Here’s how to use the heel slides exercise as a tool to relieve hip and back pain now and strengthen your body to keep the pain away.
Years ago when I was experimenting and trying to cure my own pain hip and back pain, I discovered the beautiful simplicity of the Heel slides exercise. At the time, I used this fabulous, multi-purpose exercise to help strengthen the stabilizing muscles in my hip and low back.
This helped relieve the pain in my hips and low back. So, I started using this exercise with my clients who were struggling with hip or back pain. They started feeling better, too.
The secret to getting what your body needs from each Heel slide is your intention and focus.
Here’s what you need to know to do the most meaningful, beneficial, pain-relieving Heel slide exercises with every single rep.
Related: If you’re searching for simple, effective ways to relieve pain; sign up below to get your free copy of The Fast + Easy Way to Relieve Hip + Back Pain and learn my #1 trick to help clients relieve pain right now!
So, how can one exercise help relieve both hip + back pain?
Can one silly exercise really help my hips and back feel better? you might wonder.
Yes, it sure can.
Oftentimes, what is causing your hip pain is also what’s causing your back pain (or vice versa). The main culprit for hip pain is a muscle called the piriformis, and one of the main muscles that cause back pain is called the psoas.
These two muscles work together like cranky best friends—always mad at whomever the other one is mad at. By strengthening and stretching these muscles, you begin to relieve pain in both your hips and back.
So, as long as your pain is from muscular issues, doing Heel slides regularly will help you be able to get back to doing the activities you love. However, if your pain is from structural issues, the Heel slides exercise won’t help.
What are structural issues?
Simply put, structural issues mean something inside you other than your muscles is causing your pain.
Some examples of structural issues that would cause hip or back pain are:
- spinal disc degeneration or a breakdown of the hip socket lining,
- hereditary issues that might cause deformity or odd shape to your bones, and
- torn or damaged tendons and/or ligaments.
Make sure you don’t have any of those issues before you practice the Heel slides exercise.
How do Heel slides relieve hip + back pain?
When vital stabilizing muscles near your hips and back don’t work correctly, it can cause pain.
Think of electricity in your house. (I know, this sounds unrelated, but hang in there with me.)
You’ve got a light switch. It works to turn the lights on or off. There’s no in-between.
Perhaps you also have a dimmer switch. This is a little different from the regular light switch because you turn the lights on and adjust the level of brightness. Of course, you can also turn the lights off, too.
Also, you have outlets. Whether you are using them or not, these devices always have a constant, low level of electric current running, just waiting for you to need them.
Believe it or not, this is how your muscles are designed in your body. Some muscles work in that on/off way. Others operate at a low level all the time.
But then, there are the dimmer switch-type muscles. These muscles are often responsible for stabilizing your joints. When they’re working correctly, the kick on and work with just the right amount of effort.
However, when they’re not working correctly, they try to be an on/off muscle. They freak out when they’re asked to work, default to an “off” mode, and that’s when you get injured.
The key is to remind these dimmer switch muscles that they have varying levels. They don’t have to be just on or off, they have a full range in between.
How do you get them working again? you may wonder.
The answer is simple. You intentionally exercise them.
Heel slides are one of many exercises you can do to wake up your stabilizing muscles and relieve pain yourself.
Related: If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself hip + back pain relief that will give you permanent results, check out my course Spinal Rejuvenation. I’ll teach you how to use easy exercises to relieve your pain from the privacy of your own home.
How to Do the Heel Slides Exercise to Strengthen Your Hips + Back
This is a deceptively easy exercise, so make sure to take your time to set up correctly and pay attention to how your body feels while you move.
- Begin on your back with your knees bent, heels in line with your SITs bones. (Your SITs bones are the bones that press into the ground when you’re sitting.)
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- Make sure your spine is in neutral. Your low back should be naturally arched away from the floor. If your abdominals are weak, make a triangle with your hands by connecting your pointer fingers and thumbs. Place this under your tailbone (sacrum) to help keep your pelvis neutral throughout the exercise. Otherwise, let your arms rest by your side.
- Take a nice, deep inhale.
- Completely exhale. Feel the air leave your abdominal cavity and chest, but don’t let your spine move. Let your organs get heavy and settle toward your spine.
- Lightly engage your abdominals to make sure your spine and pelvis stay completely stable as you move your leg.
The Heel Slide
- Inhale through your nose and exhale through pursed lips as you use Pilates breathing.
- Flex your foot at the ankle. Imagine a rubber band is connected from your heel to your SITs bone.
- Use your entire inhale to slide your right leg away from you, keeping your heel in line with your SITs bone. As your leg straightens, feel the tension in your imaginary rubber band increase.
- Take a moment to make sure your pelvis stayed completely in place. There shouldn’t have been any moving as your leg straightened.
- When your leg is completely straight, immediately exhale and start to bend your knee. Feel the tension in the imaginary rubber band decrease as you bring your heel toward your SITs bone.
- Take a moment to make sure your pelvis stayed completely in place. There shouldn’t have been any moving as your knee bends.
- Each time your heel slides, feel your organs settle and your abdominal cavity hollow.
- Do 5-10 reps.
- Switch legs.
Pro tip: Make sure your heel slides to and away from you in a straight line. If it tends to veer away from you or come too close to the midline of your body, it’s a sign that the muscles on the inside (adductors) and outside (TFL + IT band) of your thigh need balancing, too.
For the Visual Learners…
Sometimes, it’s just easier to watch someone do an exercise and then follow along to their verbal directions.
Want to learn more exercises to relieve your hip + back pain?
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