Saturday September 1, 2018


How to Eliminate Back Pain:

The Top 6 Hip Mobility Exercises

Dr. Troy Vander Molen, PT, DPT

In our June 1, 2018 article entitled 5 Reasons Why Your Back Hurts When You Walk, I outlined the most common root causes of this type of back pain:

  1. Poor hip mobility
  2. Decreased hip strength
  3. Stiff upper back
  4. Limited Foot and Ankle Mobility
  5. Spine Arthritis and/or Stenosis

Continuing on in our How to Eliminate Back Pain series, let’s dive deeper into poor hip mobility and how you can overcome this problem.

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 (or any tightness for that matter) including but not limited to shortened muscles, tight hip capsule, neural tension, bony alignment issues, previous tissue injury, and protective muscle spasms.

When you lack mobility at a particular link in the kinetic chain, your body tends to compensate for that by increasing movement in neighboring regions. As a result, the body part that is in pain isn’t really 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 than what’s on this list or you don’t experience benefit after performing these hip mobility 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.

One of the colleagues I respect greatly, Mike Reinold, a physical therapist with Champion Physical Therapy and Performance in Massachusetts, created an online primer entitled “6 Hip Mobility Drills Everyone Should Perform.” These are hip mobility exercises I use with many of my clients with lower back pain, so I welcome you to watch these brief videos to see those exercises in action:


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. Posterior Hip Stretch – To perform a deep gluteal stretch, this exercise on all fours does the trick.


  1. Figure 4 Stretch – The most basic and safest way to start the Figure 4 stretch is while you are on your back.


  1. 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.


In upcoming articles, the Kinetic Edge team and I will provide practical information on how to eliminate back pain by enhancing hip strength, improving mobility of the upper back, enhancing foot and ankle mobility, and managing spine arthritis and/or stenosis. If you can’t wait for that information to be released, I welcome you to attend one of our upcoming free workshops later this month where you will learn about the root causes of your low back pain and how we have successfully helped hundreds of people from right here in Iowa eliminate their pain and get their lives back.


Thursday, Sept. 20 @ 6:00 PM in Oskaloosa – 1412 A Ave W, Suite A

Saturday, Sept. 22 @ 10:00 AM in Ames – 4700 Mortensen Rd. Suite 101

Saturday, Sept. 22 @ 10:00 AM in Des Moines – 516 3rd St. Suite 100 

Tuesday, Sept. 25 @ 5:00 PM in Newton – 1715 1st Ave. East 

Tuesday, Sept. 25 @ 7:00 PM in Pella – 604 Liberty St. Suite 227  


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.


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 to schedule a free 20-minute back pain screen today.