Hip mobility for a healthy low back

Low back pain is a common injury amongst the population. One of the things that continues to come up in a lot of patients suffering from low back pain is poor hip mobility. Why do we get so tight and immobile through our hips!? Think about how much time you spend sitting each day either at your work desk, driving, watching TV in the evening. When we sit for long periods we are positioning a few of our hip muscles in a shortened position. When we then stand up, these shortened muscles can pull on the pelvis creating altered alignment and increasing stress on the low back when we move.

In the image below you can see how the pelvis is tilted forward which creates a reverse ‘C’ shape in the low back (lumbar extensions or lordosis). This can be caused by tightness through the muscles attaching to the front of the pelvis (the hip flexors). When we walk, the amount of functional hip extension that can be achieved will be limited. When we get to our limit in hip extension, the body will find an alternative way to move to get the desired outcome (walking) and will extend into the low back, rotate outward at the hip and lower leg, causing shearing stress on the low back. Over time this can cause degeneration in the lumbar and sacral-iliac joints. To help prevent tightness in the front of the hips, try the stretches below 1-2 times a day to open up the front line of the body (especially after sitting for any length of time). 

Stretches                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Kneeling hip flexor                                                                                                                                                                                    2.Standing hip flexor                                                                                                                                                                            3.Runners lunge                                                                                                                                                                            4.Runners lunge with quadricep stretch 

Written By: Paula Lamont, PT, DPT, CAFS, RYT

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Kneeling hip flexor stretch 

Kneeling hip flexor stretch 

Runners lunge

Runners lunge

Runners lunge with quadricep stretch 

Runners lunge with quadricep stretch