by Dr. Troy Vander Molen, PT, DPT
In our previous article entitled 5 Reasons Why Your Back Hurts When You Walk, I outlined the most common root causes of this type of back pain:
- Limited hip mobility
- Decreased hip strength
- Stiff upper back
- Limited Foot and Ankle Mobility
- Spine Arthritis and/or Stenosis
Before I share some simple hip mobility drills, I want to emphasize that there are many different reasons you may develop a feeling of hip tightness. These include: shortened muscles, tight hip capsule, neural tension, bony alignment issues, previous tissue injury, and protective muscle spasms.
The Root of the Problem
When you lack mobility at a particular link in the kinetic chain, your body tends to compensate by increasing movement in neighboring regions. As a result, the body part that is in pain isn’t the true problem. It is simply the part that is experiencing increased stress because of the root problem.
The following hip mobility drills can be effective if you have tight muscles or limited hip capsule mobility. If your hip tightness is the result of other factors or you don’t experience results after performing these drills, please consult a rehab professional equipped to assess your personal situation. If you want good outcomes, it is always better to assess than to guess.
Mike Reinold, a PT with Champion Physical Therapy, created an online primer entitled “6 Hip Mobility Drills Everyone Should Perform.” These are hip mobility exercises I use with many of my clients experiencing lower back pain. I welcome you to watch these brief videos to see those exercises in action:
Hip Mobility Exercises
- Quadruped Rockbacks – This simple exercise loosens up the hip joint to move better into flexion. You may want to consider doing these barefoot to enhance both ankle dorsiflexion (i.e. moving your foot so that your toes get closer to your knee) and great toe extension.
- Adductor Quadruped Rockbacks – This drill is a slight variation on the previous one that emphasizes flexibility of the groin muscles. Perform this and the following movement drills on both sides.
- Half Kneel Hip Flexor Stretch – To stretch the front of your hip and not overload other areas, be sure to keep the trunk vertical from your hips to your shoulders while you move forward into the stretch.
- Posterior Hip Stretch – To perform a deep gluteal stretch, this exercise on all fours does the trick.
- Figure 4 Stretch – The most basic and safest way to start the Figure 4 stretch is while you are on your back.
- Spiderman – This is an advanced exercise that requires you to be able to bear weight on your hands in a prone position, like the start of a push-up. Don’t try this exercise until you’ve perfected the previous ones, and stop it if you have any upper extremity pain while attempting the drill.
Get Help with Back Pain
Remember, the biggest predictor for lower back pain is a past experience with lower back pain. So, even if you’re not experiencing lower back pain currently but have dealt with it in the past, you’d likely benefit from the help of a knowledgeable physical therapist who can find and fix the issues that contribute to the pain. Fixing those root problems will reduce the likelihood that your lower back pain will return.
We have successfully helped hundreds of people from right here in Iowa eliminate their pain and get their lives back. If you’re ready to fix the root problems of your lower back pain and move on with your life, give us a call at 866-588-0230 or email us to schedule a free 20-minute back pain screen today.