Back pain of some sort is almost a guarantee anymore. There are many reasons, weak back muscles, weak abdominals, tight hamstrings and the list goes on. One major reason I am going to address in this article is tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors are a major contributor to low back pain in many people. One of the biggest reasons is that a lot of people spend their days sitting on their butts. Whether it is on an airplane, in a car, at a computer, or in the lazy-boy, people like sit around. As a society we are very lazy. Unfortunately when in the seated position, the hip flexor muscles (in particular the Psoas) are contracted or shortened. When in this position for a long period of time the hip flexors want to stay this length, making it harder for them to return to their correct length. Why does this impact the lower back? Simple, even though the hip flexors attach to the front of the upper thigh bone, they run through the hip joint and attach to the lumbar vertebrae
When the hip flexors get tight, they pull on the lower back. Many times this can be misdiagnosed and the patient is told to stretch the low back and strengthen the abs, but the problem persists. One of the best ways to get rid of this low back pain is to simply stretch the hip flexors daily. A very effective stretch is the kneeling hip flexor stretch.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
- Begin by kneeling on one knee with the other leg out in front
- Lean forward keeping the chest and head up and the shoulders back
- Once you feel tension in the upper thigh/hip reach over your head with the arm on the same side as the hip you are stretching
- Rotate slightly toward the leg that is not being stretched
- You should feel this stretch from the upper thigh/hip all the way up into the abdominal area
- Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and perform 3-5 stretches daily
- If you have a job that requires you to sit for long periods, stretch your hip flexors multiple times throughout the day
Performing the hip flexor stretch by itself will not get rid of back pain. If you experience acute recurring back pain see a doctor or a specialist immediately. Flexibility is only one component of a healthy back program. Making sure to strengthen your back is an absolute must. Remember, a weak back is almost guaranteed to give you problems. Make your back strong and stretch your tight hip flexors and I can promise your back will feel 150% better!