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The Importance of Pilates and PT for Lumbar Pelvic Hip Complex (LPHC)

in Southfield, MI

The Importance of Pilates and PT for Lumbar Pelvic Hip Complex (LPHC) 

BY: Stephanie Ruopp

Photo By: Fredericksburg Chiropractic

Have you ever considered how the upper body and lower body work in tandem? How they really connect with one another?

Maybe not.

But the region in the center of your body, called the lumbopelvic hip complex (LPHC), has a huge influence on the structures above and below it.

And any dysfunction of the upper or lower body can lead to trouble in this central region – and vice versa. Fortunately, there’s Pilates and PT for LPHC strengthening and stabilizing.

The Function of the LPHC

Think of the LPHC as a junction. It’s essentially the center from which all movement and power is generated.

This complex is often referred to as the core. But when most people think  of the core, they think of only the abdominals. In reality, the core, or LPHC, is so much more than just the abdominals.

While the LPHC is comprised of the abdominals, it is also the lumbar, pelvis, and diaphragm. Furthermore, it includes all the musculature attached to them.

The LPHC is considered the integral link in the kinetic chain that transfers energy from one segment to the next. All movements incorporate this transfer of energy.

And during this transmission of movement and power, stability is absolutely critical. Otherwise, other parts of the body will overcompensate and this can result in potential injury. 

Injuries Resulting from Weak or Tight Pelvis

When the pelvis is tight or weakened, it can cause the femur to rotate more internally. This, in turn, causes the foot to be turned more inward toward the midline.

But it can also cause the opposite problem too – creating too much external rotation.

In both cases, these can lead to IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and/or patellofemoral pain.

Furthermore, if the pelvis is anteriorly tilted, it can cause Illipsoas syndrome. This can lead to the tightening of the gluteus maximus and the eventual need for the hamstrings to take over hip extension.

This all equals a potential hamstring strain.

LPHC Dysfunction

The hips and diaphragm are more susceptible to dysfunction for a few reasons:

1. Breathing

Strange as it sounds, most people don’t know how to breathe properly. That is to say, they breathe through their mouths. And when breathing through the mouth, the diaphragm is not utilized.

Why does this matter?

The diaphragm is the component of the LPHC that generates intra-abdominal pressure, or IAP. IAP serves to create the tension that’s necessary for the abdominal muscles and lumbar stability.

Without IAP, there is a crucial functional segment missing in the abdominal and hip connection.    

Intentional breathing through the nose engages the diaphragm which, in turn, activates IAP.

2. Sitting

The hips are the center of gravity in the body. Therefore, all balance starts there.

But when the body is required to sit for long amounts of time, the LPHC can become unlinked.

Among the many hazards of sitting is the hips tilting back (posteriorly) and the spine countering by rounding forward. This puts the thoracic spine in flexion.

With this constant rounding of the thoracic spine comes strain on the neck and shoulders and eventual loss of mobility.

So it’s plain to see that when one part of the LPHC becomes dysfunctional, it affects the entire complex. And beyond.

3. Muscular Isolation Training

Hardcore strength training that focuses on isolating certain muscles can also cause LPHC dysfunction.

If larger muscles outside the LPHC become stronger than the LPHC, the LPHC becomes weaker over time. This creates strength asymmetries and imbalances.

Using Pilates and PT for LPHC

The bottom line is this – a poorly functioning core leads to poor performance and potential injury.

Core stability training such as that found in Pilates or specialized physical therapy retrains the deep local muscles of the core while maintaining focus on proper alignment.

When addressing LPHC dysfunction, Pilates utilizes functional exercises to enhance the stability of the hips, torso, and shoulders.

For example, a forward plank is executed keeping a straight line through the body, preventing the hips from sagging toward the floor.

A side plank also focuses on maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels in order to prevent side bending.

And a Pilates bridge requires you to bend your knees to roughly 90 degrees, press your feet firmly into the floor, and then squeeze the glute muscles to lift your hips off the floor. Once again, the idea is to bring the  shoulders, hips, and knees into a straight line.

In the same fashion, physical therapists design specific core stabilization exercises to educate or re-educate those deep local muscles. Clinical tools and techniques are utilized to carefully assess which local muscular exercises will be of the most benefit.

A physical therapist well-versed in LPHC dysfunction can institute a regimen that can prevent or even correct motor control problems that are responsible for injury and the improper use of the core.

How Stable Is Your Core?

It’s clear that the strength and stability of your LPHC are important factors when it comes to connecting your upper and lower bodies.

That’s why there is an increasing number of core stabilization techniques being incorporated into fitness, preventive, rehabilitative, and wellness programs.

If you suspect that your core could be stronger and more stable, it might be time to try Pilates and PT for LPHC dysfunction you might have.

Contact us today to get more information.