Modern humans tend to love very lopsided lives when it comes to sports, daily habits, how we sit for work and how we hold babies, purses, backpacks etc.
Many people are walking around with a pelvic or hip instability issue without even knowing it. This is because the human body is amazing at compensating. It will compensate and compensate, sometimes for years without any pain at all…until one day it can’t take any more, and that’s when we get a pain signal.
The list of possible injuries or pain patterns that can happen due to a hip instability pattern are so numerous we’d be here all day if I went into them all, but the big surprise is plantar fasciitis.
If you’ve tried all the typical routes or methods of eliminating plantar fasciitis and your pain persists, it could be due to an underlying hip or pelvic instability issue. (Click here to learn about the most common causes of plantar fasciitis).
The short story on this complex issue:
Due to one or more imbalances in the fascia of the legs, your pelvis can experience a tilt, shift or rotation (or some combination thereof). This means it could be rotated forward on one or both sides, tilted to the left or right or otherwise shifted out of alignment.
When this happens, it is my belief that your brain detects potential danger to the central nervous system and spine (which requires a neutral pelvis to be at optimal health), and recruits one or more muscles of the low back or hip to contract neurologically to bring you back into balance.Often, it’s the gluteus medius that is recruited this way and when it is – that muscle is no longer able to be recruited for its normal duties.
What does the gluteus medius do?
Gluteus medius and minimus abduct the thigh when the leg is straight and during gait (walking or running) these two muscles function to support the body on one leg to prevent the pelvis from dropping to the opposite side.
With the hip flexed, gluteus medius and minimus internally rotate the thigh. With the hip extended, they externally rotate the thigh, or more accurately they act to prevent internal rotation. Without this action the knee migrates inward, creating stress on the structures of the hip, knee and foot.
As you can tell, gluteus medius (and minimus) are critical for hip stability in ALL kinds of everyday actions. If one or both of these muscles is no longer able to do its job, it has to be done by other muscles.
How glute inhibition or hip instability leads to plantar fasciitis:
If gluteus medius is actively engaged to compensate for pelvic instability and unable to perform its regular hip stabilizing duties, then your foot may start to grip the ground during any movement that requires leg stabilization. The list for this is endless! It includes walking, running, hiking, lunging, squatting, dancing, martial arts and much more.
When this happens for an extended period of time, your plantar fascia and/or calf fascia will get likely get extremely tight and restricted because they’re working overtime…and this can lead to plantar fasciitis, or pain on the bottom of the foot or heel. You may or may not also experience knee pain, hip pain, low back pain or hip flexor issues, to name just a few!
How to know if you have a hip instability issue:
To know for sure, you’d want to seek out a really good chiropractor or kineseologist, someone who does muscle and nerve activation testing. They can test your glute muscles to see if they’re active and firing properly. A really good personal trainer may be able to determine this with you as well.
Signs that point to hip instability and especially glute inhibition:
If you have more than one issue on the same side of your body, such as hip, knee, ankle or foot problems, and possibly shoulder issues as well (an unstable hip can lead to an unstable shoulder). Low back pain is almost always a sign of hip instability. So if you have plantar fasciitis on only ONE foot and it’s accompanied by any of the above as well, then you may have a glute that isn’t firing because it’s been recruited to stabilize your pelvis.
Before assuming this is your problem, rule out the simple answers first!
If you have plantar fasciitis, don’t assume you have an unstable hip. You may be one of the 80% of people that I believe fall into a simple category of plantar fascitiis, and the solution will be simple as well.
If you want immediate help getting out of pain, check out this easy to follow course that will walk you through understanding and eliminating your plantar fasciitis: