Updated: Mar 30
By Alyssa Brunt, MScPT, BScKIN (HON)
The best Stretches for Your Hips:
Most of us have experienced some type of lower back or hip pain in our lives and we can tell you that it is no F-U-N. Unfortunately, in today’s society, our jobs, daily commutes, and Netflix binge watching sessions don’t provide a lot of opportunities for movement. For most of us, we sit while we drive or take public transit to work, sit all day at our office, and then sit when we get home because we’re so tired from sitting all day. To top it all off, we slouch in our chairs, are hunched over our phones and books, and sink into the sofa at the end of the day.
Over time, this lack of movement in the lower back, hips and pelvis accumulates and we develop a lot of tightness and muscular imbalance within the pelvic girdle. Suddenly one day we wake up, feeling about 40 years older than we actually are, having no idea what we did to cause the discomfort.
And that’s where I come in ☺ The body can really only handle so much stress before it begins to fight back. In today’s blog, we’re going to be talking all about how we can integrate a few lower back and hip stretches into our daily routine to help reduce and manage those everyday aches and pains. These stretches are great for office workers, hockey moms, frequent flyers, avid runners and basically anyone who feels tension in their lower back and hips.
By doing these stretches regularly, we can reduce hip tension and lower back stress. It’s important to remember that our jobs and daily commutes aren’t likely to change which means it’s up to us to take some initiative and invest our time into our personal health. Luckily for all my visual learners out there, there is a video attached to this blog providing you with both verbal and written instructions, so you should have no problem trying these out at home!
I cannot stress enough that if you are currently experiencing any lower back or hip discomfort that you please go and see a physiotherapist for a proper assessment. Exercise programs need to be individualized to your body and these exercises below may not be suitable for everyone. So come see me and I will help get you back in tip top shape!
Dive into the best stretches for your hips and a video tutorial below!
Stretch #1 – Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
In the front of the hip, there are a group of muscles called the hip flexors. – responsible for bringing your thigh towards your chest. There are two major hip flexors, the rectus femoris, which forms part of the quadriceps muscle in the front of the thigh, and the iliopsoas which sits higher up, inside the hip and connects to the lower back. With increased sitting, these muscles can become shortened and tightened, altering the position of the hip and lower back. Because these muscles attach to the front of the pelvis, they can pull it forwards and rotate the hip increasing the stress on the lower back and knees.
To stretch the hip flexors, take a half- kneeling position on a mat, ensuring your back leg is straight and not twisted behind you. It’s important here to keep the back straight rather than leaning so far forward. From here, think if you had a tail and were tucking it between your legs. This causes your pelvis to tilt backwards or posteriorly. If you feel a stretch, you can continue to hold here. To deepen the stretch, engage the glutes and lean slightly forward keeping the back straight. For an even deeper stretch, bring the same arm overhead and to the opposite side. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat 2-3x on each side.
Stretch #2 – Seated Stretch
Tight muscles can really be a pain in the butt! Especially the piriformis muscle. It’s a smaller muscle located deep in the buttocks, underneath our gluteus maximus. The biggest nerve in our body, the sciatic nerve runs right beneath this muscle. This means that when it gets too tight, we can experience sciatica pain or numbness down the back of the leg. Most people associate this pain or discomfort with the spine but it can also result from our piriformis muscle being too tight.
You will most commonly see this muscle stretched while laying on your back, however, I prefer to take a seated position for this. It makes it MUCH easier for people to stretch while they are working, flying, or just sitting on the couch.
Begin by sitting slightly forward on your chair so that your back isn’t touching the backrest. Next, bring your foot onto your opposite knee forming a number 4. Keeping your back straight and your shoulders lifted, lean forward, hinging from the hips. You should feel a stretch in the glute or buttocks of the bent knee. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat 2-3x on each side. As the stretch begins to feel comfortable, lean forward to further deepen it.
Stretch #3 – Sloppy Push Up/Press Up
Unlike the other two exercises, the sloppy push up is more of a postural correction exercise than a stretch. This exercise is great for people who sit a lot throughout the day in a slouched, rounded posture. You may notice that it resembles cobra pose in yoga but it is slightly different. This specific movement is part of a treatment technique called the McKenzie Method.
To perform this exercise, lay flat on your stomach and bring your hands underneath your shoulders. Next, press through your hands lifting your shoulders and upper back off the ground, keeping your hips and lower back relaxed.
Try to fully extend through the elbows, if comfortable, and pause at the top for a few seconds. Think of relaxing your buttocks, hips, and pelvis into the floor. Relax back down to the ground and repeat 10x.
The exercises above are very effective ways to stretch the lower back and hips. With no equipment needed, they are very easy to integrate into our everyday lives. As mentioned before, if you do have lower back or hip issues, please come for an assessment today to make sure these exercises will help realign and reduce stress in YOUR body specifically! As physiotherapists, we are specialized in providing patients with individualized exercise programs to meet their body’s needs.
Want to learn more type of hip stretches? Or do you experience lower back, hips and pelvis pain and/or tightness? Learn more regular stretches by booking a meet and greet with Alyssa!
Hip flexor picture: http://synergympt.com/blog/?p=60
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