Solving low back pain – hip mobility

As a chiropractor, the most common complaint I hear from people is about their low back pain. It is estimated that 85-90% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lifetime. Whether or not it becomes a serious issue depends on how well you take care of yourself before getting back pain, and how well you address it once you do develop back pain.

Here in Schuylkill County, you’d expect that since this seems like a blue collar area, most people that I see would get back pain from heavy manual labor, lifting and bending, etc. However, this isn’t the case. Most people I see for back pain have jobs that require them to sit for long periods of time or stay in certain positions for long periods of time (like factory workers). These static postures are tough on the body and can lead to mobility problems, particular in the hips, legs, and upper back and shoulders. I’ve covered the upper back and shoulders in another post, so here I will focus on the hips and legs.

The most common cause of low back pain that I find is poor hip mobility. The reason being that if you cannot bend well through the hips, the low back has to make up for it. This places excessive stress on the muscles, joints, and discs of the low back and can lead to repetitive microtrauma over a period of time that can culminate into a serious injury.

Here are several exercises that I will often recommend to help with hip mobility with the goal of reducing back pain or reducing the risk of developing a back injury. If you’re having pain, you should be evaluated before doing the exercises. Working through pain may only cause further injury and may cause your body to compensate further worsening the situation.

NOTE: If you have pain in a specific area of feel like you cannot perform some of these exercises due to tightness, pinching, or restriction, discuss with me on your next visit. We may have to use muscle work and/or manipulation to correct issues that are preventing your body from moving properly. Also, some of the videos do not thoroughly cover the exercises and proper performance. These videos are posted to supplement what I teach people in the office, not to act as a stand alone exercise prescription.

The first few videos are fairly basic and tolerated well by most people. They show how to do a piriformis stretch and knee to chest stretch. This stretches the posterior region of the hips.

The next two exercises stretch the anterior region of the hips (hip flexors). They are the quadraceps and hip flexor stretches. Be careful to stretch the hips and not extend the low back. Extending the low back can cause pain and discomfort. You should not feel this at the low back, but at the front of the hips.

The next video shows an example of the toe touch progression that I cover in the office. This is not appropriate for everyone and should not be performed if it worsens symptoms into the legs.

This next exercise is similar to the toe touch progression, but working from the bottom up.

This next exercise works well, but go easy in the beginning.

And here’s almost the same exercise, but this involves balancing in position. This can be very difficult, so be careful.

This is a much more advanced maneuver, but a very good one. Pay attention that what you are feeling is a stretch and not pain.

And last but not least, another one from Pavel demonstrating the “windmill” maneuver. Start without any weight to make sure you can perform it correctly. This is very advanced and those of you with low back pain must be careful. It works on both hip and low back mobility, while requiring good core strength.

Thanks for checking out this post. These exercises/stretches work very well when performed on a regular basis. Along with muscle work and manipulation in the office, these can help normalize your posture and body mechanics. Just be aware that as you make (good) changes to your body, you will be sore. If you have any concerns or any pain that seems excessive, stop the exercises and bring this to my attention during your next appointment.


Buddy Touchinsky, D.C.
Chiropractor, Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County

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