Limited hip mobility is a common cause of lower back pain. Watch the video to learn 8 stretches for lower back pain and hip mobility that you can start doing today to get relief.
Lower Back Pain and Hip Mobility Go Hand In Hand
If you have lower back pain, it's natural to think that you might need to stretch your lower back muscles. Often though, it's actually things that are not hurting that are causing your lower back to hurt in the first place.
Your hips can be the root cause of a lot of different types of problems such as knee pain or plantar fasciitis.
However, in this article, we'll discuss how hip mobility problems affect lower back pain.
What's The Link Between Lower Back Pain and Hip Mobility?
When you move your back and your hips in complex everyday movements, you move at both your back and your hips at the same time.
Bending is one example. Depending on how you bend, you may use either more back movement or more hip movement.
If your hips are stiffer, then you end up moving more at your lower back.
Who Needs Good Hip Mobility?
Regardless of whether you're a powerlifter, Crossfitter, or an 80-year-old who has spinal stenosis, if you have stiffness in your hips, your back is probably going to pay for it.
In this post, I'm going to share eight stretches to help your hip mobility in order to relieve lower back pain.
Really, though there are actually four different movements that these stretches target, but I'll share two versions of each.
One will be a more intense version of the stretch for somebody who's a little bit more fit and mobile. The other will be a less intense version for someone who's a little bit less mobile and more sedentary.
So regardless of your age or how fit you are, there's probably at least a few stretches that can help your lower back pain and hip mobility.
8 Stretches For Lower Back Pain and Hip Mobility
The 8 stretches for lower back pain and hip mobility are:
- 2 Stretches To Improve Hip Flexion Range Of Motion
- 2 Hip Flexor Stretches (To Improve Hip Extension)
- 2 Piriformis Stretches (To Improve Hip Rotation)
- 2 Groin Stretches (To Improve Hip Abduction)
Stretches To Improve Hip Flexion Range Of Motion
The first stretch for your hip mobility is going to be improving the movement of hip flexion. That means moving your knee closer to your chest, or conversely, your chest closer to your knee.
When you bend forward, you flex at your hips as well as flex at the lower back. There are a few different ways you can accomplish that bending task.
- You can bend mostly at the hips with your back arched.
- You can bend at your back without moving your hips much at all
- Or, you can bend evenly with a flat back hinging at your hips (which is ideal).
Depending on how you move, that's going to influence whether or not you develop lower back pain. If you move excessively at your lower back for years, you'll likely eventually develop lower back pain.
How to improve hip flexion mobility to prevent lower back pain
One good way to improve hip flexion mobility is to do an all fours rocking back stretch. This is a good stretch for both your lower back and hips.
If you're able to get down on the ground, this is probably one of the best exercises for lower back pain.
Just like with bending, there are a few different ways that you can do the rocking back stretch.
You can really round out your lower back like this:
which is a good exercise for spinal stenosis to open up the spaces where the nerves come out in your lower back.
However, for the purpose of improving hip mobility, you want to arch your lower back a little bit and then move mostly at your hips.
You'll notice there's much less range of motion this way, but that's okay.
When doing this stretch to improve hip mobility, you should avoid rounding your lower back out. This will isolate the stretch to the back of your hips.
You may feel a little bit of pinching in the front of your hips, but that's okay too. Just don't push past that point.
To get a little bit more rock back range of motion, you can spread your knees out like a frog and then sit back. This will help you keep a fairly flat lower back but get a little further back into that rocking.
And if you want to do a lower back stretch like the first image shown above, that's okay too, just realize that it doesn't stretch your hips as much that way.
Seated Hip Hinge Stretch For Lower Back Pain And Hip Mobility
If you can't get down on the floor, you can work on hip mobility while seated in a chair.
To do this, take a broomstick and keep the stick flat on your back while hinging forward from the hips.
If you spread your knees out, you can get a little bit deeper down into that motion.
So that's the first exercise to improve your hip mobility.
Hip Flexor Stretches For Lower Back Pain
The second stretch for lower back pain and hip mobility is a stretch for your hip flexors, or iliopsoas.
The iliopsoas muscle is two muscles combined into a tendon:
- The iliacus
- The posas
The psoas portion of this hip flexor muscle attaches to your lower back, and when it's tight, it can tilt your pelvis forward and arch your lower back.
This is especially harmful if you have degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis.
The muscle is a hip flexor, which means that when it's stiff, it limits you from going into hip extension.
You need to be able to extend your hip when walking so that your leg can get behind your body... or rather that your body can get in front of your rear leg.
However, if you don't have good flexibility in your hip flexors, you either have to take really short steps, or your lower back ends up arching, which can cause back pain or sciatica when walking.
In fact, for people with spinal stenosis, walking problems are incredibly common.
To improve that extension range of motion in your hip, you need to stretch your hip flexors.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
One good way to stretch your hip flexors is to kneel down in a lunge position.
If you have knee pain when kneeling, try kneeling on a yoga mat, pillow, or even a bed. (Don't fall off the bed!)
Roll your pelvis underneath of you and flatten your lower back. This is extremely important!
Then, push your hips forward without allowing your lower back to arch.
Seated Hip Flexor Stretch
Alternatively, if you just can't kneel at all, you can sit on the edge of a chair without arms. Put one knee down to achieve a lunge position similar to the one above, only his time your weight isn't going to be through your knee.
I will say that the kneeling version is a much better hip flexor stretch, but if you just have too much pain kneeling on your knee or can't get up from the floor, then this is a good alternative stretch.
If neither of these hip flexor stretches works for you, check out this other post about 4 Hip Flexor Stretches For Lower Back Pain.
Piriformis Stretches For Lower Back Pain
The third stretch for lower back pain and hip mobility is a piriformis stretch.
Many people use the stretch for sciatica but it's not always a great idea to stretch your piriformis if you have sciatica.
However, if you have lower back pain and hip mobility problems, the piriformis stretch is a great way to open up your hips in the direction of hip external rotation.
Seated Piriformis Stretch
To stretch your piriformis, sit in a chair and cross one leg over and push down GENTLY. Don't push as hard as you can. You just want to feel a gentle stretch in the back of the hip.
If you have some stiffness in your groin muscles, you may also feel it a little bit in the inner thigh or in the groin, and that's okay. But primarily, where you want to feel this is in the outside or the back of the hip.
So that's one version of the piriformis stretch.
If you're able to get down on the floor, you can also do a "pigeon pose" as it's called in yoga.
Since I can't even begin to do a full pigeon, here's how it's supposed to look:
(Sidenote: you will note that her lower back is hyper-arched here, which probably isn't good)
Modified Pigeon Stretch
To do a modified pigeon pose, start in a hip flexor stretch like before, and then you turn your front leg out into external rotation.
If you're like me and aren't crazy flexible, then use a yoga block under your hip. Then lean forward over your leg like this:
Notice that even though it doesn't look as "pretty" as the picture above, my lower back is in a much more natural position doing the stretch this way.
Groin Stretches For Lower Back Pain
The fourth stretch is for your inner thigh or your groin muscles.
I mentioned above you may feel your inner thigh muscles a bit when doing a seated piriformis stretch.
However, another way to stretch your goin muscles is doing a seated butterfly stretch.
Seated Butterfly Stretch
Sit on the floor and put your feet together so that both hips are in an external rotation position.
Grasp your feet or ankles with your hands and then push on your knees with your elbows until you feel a comfortable stretch in the groin and/or inner thigh.
If you don't feel enough of a stretch in the groin there, you can also start to lean into it again with a flat back
If you can't get on the floor, you can also sit on a bed or couch to do this stretch.
Deep Squat Stretch
The deep squat stretch is a more intense version of the groin stretch.
This is better suited for someone who does weightlifting or squatting.
To do this stretch, get down into a deep squat squat and onto your ankles. Sink down in the squat, pressing out on your knees with your elbows like this.
You should feel a really deep stretch through the groin and the inner thighs
So those were the four (or really eight) stretches for lower back pain and hip mobility.
Hopefully these stretches will help you relieve your lower back pain.
It is still important though to find the root cause of your lower back pain.
Something caused your hip muscles to get stiff in the first place or something caused your lower back to hurt in the first place, and you really do want to narrow down what that root cause was so you can keep the pain from coming back in the future.
If you need help to improve your lower back pain and hip mobility, we'd be happy to help you here at More 4 Life.
Just tap the button below to request an appointment.