Wellness

Using the Pelvic Clock to Strengthen Your Core and Relieve Tightness in the Hips and Lower Back

Photograph by Emma Hartvig

Using the Pelvic Clock to Strengthen Your Core and Relieve Tightness in the Hips and Lower Back

Using the Pelvic Clock to Strengthen Your Core and Relieve Tightness in the Hips and Lower Back

Yana Blinova

Nearly two decades ago, Yana Blinova’s doctors recommended an invasive spinal surgery to repair her back injuries. Instead, Blinova used her knowledge of body mechanics—from her career as an Olympic gymnastics coach—to support her back health with stretching and strength exercises.

And eventually, she invented the Pelvic Clock Exercise Device to help others achieve flexibility, strength, and symmetry in the lower back, pelvic floor, and core—in order to prevent pain. Whether you subject your lower back to too much sitting, cycling, golfing or you’re simply pregnant, Blinova has exercises designed for you.

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For Tight Hips and Backs

“Back pain and hip pain are in most cases mechanical,” says Blinova. “It doesn’t happen out of the blue. The inflammation comes from a mechanical imbalance. People may not even realize that they are standing unevenly. If you move over and over with an imbalance, you’ll eventually develop pain. There are four main imbalances that are very common—where the hips may not be even. People tilt to one side, or they tilt their pelvis forward—as in pregnancy—or backward. And the pelvis can be twisted, for example in golfers.”

Where do you start with the device?

“The Pelvic Clock can help stretch contracted muscles and correct these imbalances to help you regain symmetry,” explains Blinova. “You don’t have to feel too much stretch. With the Pelvic Clock, you have about two inches of elevation from the floor, and you are at ten to twenty degrees of spinal and hip extension—and this is as much as you need.”

How to Use the Pelvic Clock: Starting Position

starting pelvic clock position
  1. Lie down on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

  2. Place the Pelvic Clock under your sacrum, with the rounded side on the floor, the flat surface facing up, and 12 o’clock toward your head.

  3. The sacrum is the large triangular bone at the bottom of the spine, just above the tailbone.

  4. Says Blinova: “Find a neutral position for your pelvis and spine, not sticking out your stomach. Finding this and registering it is already significant.”

For Your
Hip Flexors

“Most people who sit at the computer a lot have tight hip flexors,” says Blinova. (We know, we say.) What to do: “Rock gently side to side to release the hip flexor.” Blinova recommends this move for cyclists in particular.

How to Use the Pelvic Clock: Hips Move

  1. Lie down with your feet flat on the floor.

  2. To restore symmetry in the hips, gently rock side to side, back and forth, from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock.

  3. Try to keep your knees in the middle.

  4. Spend more time on the hip that doesn’t go down as easily.

  5. To release your hip flexors, stretch both legs straight out on the floor and repeat the hip movements to 3 and 9 o’clock, dropping your left and right hips and coming back to center.

  6. Repeat ten to twenty times.

  7. This develops strength and flexibility in the back and hips at the same time.

  8. Spend more time on the weaker side.

For Pelvic Tilts and Pregnancy

“Around 70 percent of pregnant women have occasional back pain,” says Blinova. “The sources of pain are mechanical: Joints become overflexible, and the baby pulls the body forward and tilts the pelvis forward.” To counter this, Blinova recommends tilting the opposite way.

If you’re having a hard time picturing it, an anterior (forward) tilt looks like this:

pregnant woman

How to Use the Pelvic Clock: Pelvic Tilts

  1. When the pelvis tilts forward (anterior tilt), for example in pregnancy, counter that by pulling the pelvis to 12 o’clock.

  2. On your exhalation, pull the pelvis toward 12 o’clock and feel a little stretch in the lower back.

  3. Inhale and come back to neutral or, if it feels good, go toward 6 o’clock.

  4. On an exhale, go back to 12 o’clock and hold it briefly. You are stretching your back muscles and contracting your abdominal muscles.

  5. Repeat ten to twenty times.

  6. If you want more—and depending on the stage of pregnancy—bring your knees to your chest and stay there for a while. (As with anything else in this realm, consult your doctor first.)

  7. When the pelvis tilts back (posterior tilt)—for example, in someone with a rounded lower back or a sway back posture—counter that by rocking the pelvis to 6 o’clock instead.

  8. When you rock forward to 6 o’clock, you’re stretching your abdominals, and if you put your hand on your back, you’ll feel an isometric strengthening.

For Occasional Sciatic Trouble

“The concept of Pelvic Clock exercises is that there is always an opposing muscle group to every muscle,” says Blinova. “Your back muscles are opposed by your stomach muscles, and if we are stretching the back, we are strengthening the front.”

“The sacroiliac joints are at 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock, bony bumps on either side of the sacrum,” she says. “Normally it is the sacroiliac joint on one side that gives women trouble. It’s hypermobility of the sacroiliac joint that makes it go out on a regular basis. This is why I invented the device—so that you can deal with it right away. This is for pregnant women and for anyone with occasional sciatic pain that radiates from your buttock and may go down your leg. The exercise does a similar thing to what a chiropractor would do: brings one side of your pelvis up and the other side down.”

For reference, this is what Blinova is referring to:

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How to Use the Pelvic Clock: Sciatic Care

  1. Go to 1 o’clock on an exhale then return to the neutral position or continue farther to 6 o’clock.

  2. Go to 11 o’clock on another exhale, then back to neutral.

  3. Next time, hold each position for a couple of breaths.

  4. Repeat ten times.

  5. Spend extra time on the tighter side.

For Core Work

“You don’t need a lot of repetitions to work your core with the Pelvic Clock,” says Blinova. “This exercise is good for postpartum women, even long after having children.”

How to Use the Pelvic Clock: Core Exercise

  1. Lift your legs with knees bent and shins parallel to the floor.

  2. Raise your arms straight up.

  3. Take five deep breaths in this position.

  4. Your abdominals have to work to keep you balanced.

  5. Straighten one leg and lower it almost all the way to the floor, taking five deep breaths while in this position.

  6. Come back up and repeat on the other side.

For Pelvic Floor Strength

“To strengthen the pelvic floor, use the Pelvic Clock together with Kegel exercises,” instructs Blinova. “You can increase the benefits by working out the pelvic floor and the abdominals simultaneously.”

How to Use the Pelvic Clock: Kegels Combo

  1. Take a deep breath through the nose and expand the rib cage.

  2. Exhale with force while tilting to 12 o’clock and hold.

  3. Next time, while doing a complete exhalation and a pelvic tilt to 12 o’clock, add in a simultaneous Kegel contraction.

  4. Hold for five seconds.

  5. Inhale, relaxing the pelvis and pelvic floor muscles.

  6. Repeat ten times.

  7. (A Kegel exercise refers to contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor. You should feel a contraction around a finger inserted in the vagina and not feel a contraction in the abdominals or buttocks.)


Yana Blinova is a former Olympic coach and currently a lower back exercise consultant in New York City. She received her master’s in exercise science from Perm State Pedagogical University in Russia and coached the Soviet army rhythmic gymnastics team and the Italian national rhythmic gymnastics team. She is the inventor of the Pelvic Clock Exercise Device and the founder and CEO of Flect, LLC.


This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.

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