If you have lower back pain and you notice an imbalance in your hips, you could be experiencing a "lateral shift," in which the one of the spine's vertebra moves to one side in response to movement of another vertebra. This can sometimes cause the body to "list" to one side in response to pain. If you stand in front of a mirror and can see one shoulder dropped lower than the other, it may be due to a lateral shift. It's always best to seek the help of a medical professional to deal with spinal issues. In terms of exercise, a few lateral shift exercises can help you strengthen the muscles of the trunk and obliques -- but if you're in pain, don't try them until you talk to your doctor.
Sitting on Ball
Sit on an exercise ball and place both feet firmly on the floor, keeping the feet a few inches apart. Clasp your hands together and hold them in front of your chest with your elbows bent to provide you stability throughout the exercise.
Engage your core muscles and sit up straight, and then shift your hips to one side, allowing the ball to roll slightly in that direction while working to keep the knees in the starting position.
Shift toward the right and then to the left, moving in each direction a total of 10 times.
Lying on Ball
Sit on the exercise ball and place your feet about hip-width apart. When your feet are stable, sit back and walk your feet outward until your upper back is resting on the top of the ball. Throughout the exercise, keep your trunk parallel to the floor.
Position your arms out to the sides with your palms facing upward. Keep your feet on the floor as you shift your weight to the left side, rolling the ball under the left shoulder. As you do this, you'll notice a shifting motion in your hips.
Pause for a moment with the ball under the left shoulder, and then shift your weight to the right side and move the ball under the right shoulder.
Shift back and forth until the ball has rolled under each shoulder 10 times.
Things You'll Need
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.