October 5

Hips Don’t Lie, Or Do They?


In the music video of Shakira’s song “Hips Don’t Lie” (YouTube video above), we see a dynamic performance of what the hips can do. *Cough, *Cough…. It is a sexual song and I will leave it to you to interpret what it is about.

As a clinical exercise physiologist who used to coach athletics, I am more interested in the movement.

What Shakira did in her music video was an astounding demonstration of her great control of her muscles in her ‘core’ (mid-section) and hips.

In anatomy, a movement can be defined according to the plane of movement.

There are three planes:


Shakira can execute her hip movement in uni-planar or multi-planar direction. For example, she flexes one hip laterally (i.e. lifting one hip up from the side) during 2:21-2:24 then continued with multiplanar hip rotation during 2:24-2:28 of the video.


Due to the complexity and difficulty, it is less common for me than a dance instructor to teach a person to do a hip rotation like Shakira’s.

The difficulty of performing such a multi-planar movement is higher than a uni-planar movement. It may be easy for a dancer but not for someone who does not exercise or explore human movement regularly.

The most common movement I coach clients to do is the pelvic tilt in the sagittal plane. It is undoubtedly the most important, fundamental movement one needs to be able to do.

If you don’t know what is a pelvic tilt, keep reading.


First it is the foundation of performing any abdominal exercises correctly and safely.

Second, if you can pelvic tilt as you wish, you can control the position of your pelvis and consequently your spinal alignment, particularly your lumbar (low back) section and hence affect low back pain. Third, the gluteus (buttock) muscles work in coordination with the lower rectus abdominis (i.e. six pack muscle) to tilt the pelvis forward (anteriorly) or backward (posteriorly). Hence, if you want to maximise contraction of gluteus muscle to tone your bum, it is important you learn how to pelvic tilt!

Finally, I suspect it is part of the anecdotal belief why a person who can dance is probably also good in making love…*Cough *Cough…


Using the pelvic tilt movement as an example, we can find out whether your hips lie. If you are pedantic, the answer is of course NO! Hips can’t talk, LOL! But if you have a crazy sense of humour like me, you will be patronising in following my thought process.

When performing any movement, our brain interact or communicate with our bodies through our neural pathways.

Movement that are fundamental often occurs at a subconscious automatic level. For example, when we want to walk from point A to B, we do not continuously think of lifting one knee and foot then straightening that knee to land our heel on the floor to complete one step forward. It will be too mentally-consuming.

Therefore, what you think or perceive yourself doing may not be exactly the same.

To answer the question, let’s ask another question. Is there a difference between the following hip movement performed by 1) King of Pop Michael Jackson, 2) a random group exercise shown on TV,  and 3) actor Jim Carrey?


If you answered that all of them were doing the same action, your hips have just lied!
Michael was pelvic tilting, the people in exercise class was hip thrusting and Jim was hip thrusting plus tilting simultaneously.
This is a pelvic tilt:


A hip thrust is just shifting the whole pelvis forward relative to your feet.
So if you can only hip thrust, it is time to ‘power up’ and learn how to pelvic tilt.In my next article, I will explain why a lying (pun intended) hip thrust may actually aggravate lower back stiffness or pain.The article is written by Dan Chan (PhD, AEP, ESSAM) and it is his perspective as an exercise physiologist. Consult the appropriate exercise professional if you are uncertain in performing any movement or exercise mentioned. 


hip, hips, pelvic, pelvic tilt

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