Posts Tagged ‘hip flexor’

Salvere Blog: Ahh — Stretch for that Aching Back

June 2, 2015

Last month, we discussed the correlation between tight hips and low back pain. Specifically, we looked at how tight hip flexors can exert a forward tug on the pelvis which causes a similar pull on the low back, and voila, back pain. Image your pelvis is like a cereal bowl full of milk and cereal.  Optimally, we want everything to stay in the bowl by keeping it level.  Tight hip flexors could cause the milk and cereal to spill out the front by tipping the bowl forward.

For those of you who enjoy a visual of the actual muscles involved:

Hip-Flexor diagram

In the weeks to come, we’ll offer a few quick and easy exercises you can do to alleviate and prevent low back pain caused from tight hip muscles. The first exercise can be done before you even get out of bed in the morning!

Place a firm blanket or pillow toward the edge of your bed and have a seat on it. Your legs should be hanging off the bed with the edge of the bed touching the back of your knees. Slowly lower yourself onto your back. Draw both knees into your chest. Gently press your low back into the blanket or pillow. This will prevent you from overarching your back.

Keeping the right knee drawn-in toward your chest, extend the left leg toward the floor, over the edge of the bed. You will soon start to feel a stretch across the top of the thigh near the hip of the left leg. Be sure to keep the other leg bent in order to keep your low back pressing toward the bed and to protect your low back. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.  To feel the stretch more, scoot yourself a little so the knee hangs a little more off the edge of the bed.  Repeat same technique switching legs.

Here’s a visual of the stretching position, imagining the table as the end of the bed:

supinehipflexor-edge of bed

Remember, this is only one stretch of many and should not cause pain. If so, it might not be appropriate for you.  As always, pay attention to your body and how things feel, specific to YOU.

by Lynne Olsen , trainer at Salvere Health and Fitness. If you’d like to contact Lynne, email her at LynneO@SalvereHealthAndFitness.com or call her at (443) 540-7564.

Salvere Blog: Oh My Aching Back!

May 11, 2015

If you suffer from chronic, or even occasional low back pain, you are not alone. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time. Over 80% of us will experience low back pain at some point in our lives. Back pain is the second most common reason that people visit their doctors, second only to upper respiratory infections (acatoday.org). The good news is that your low back pain may originate someplace other than your back and it may be curable.

 

It might come as a surprise to you to learn that some low back pain stems from tightness/shortness of the muscles of the hips.   Specifically, when the hip flexor muscles are overly tight/short, they can cause discomfort in the low back.   The hip flexors are comprised of two muscles; the illiacus and the psoas.   In conjunction, you might have heard them referred to singularly as the illiopsoas or simply, the “hip flexors.”

 

The name, “hip flexor” comes from their function of lifting the knee (a.k.a. flexing at the hip) as when you climb stairs, walk, or run.  If you’re a runner or a cyclist, you are certainly familiar with these muscles and they are probably tight. On the flip side, if you sit at a computer all day, these muscles are likely to be short and weak.

 

Here’s where we connect the hipbone to the backbone; or more accurately, the illopsoas to that pain in your back. Due to the fact that the illiopsoas attaches at your hips and at your spine, when the illopsoas get tight/short, it causes your pelvis to rotate forward (anterior pelvic tilt).   This increased curve in your low back affects the alignment of your entire spine which in turn leads to a forward (jutting) head position and pain between the shoulder blades. Got that too? Of course, tight/weak hip flexors and an anterior pelvic tilt are magnified tremendously by wearing high heels, spending hours in front of a computer monitor, driving a car, and sitting on the couch!

 

Back to the good news: proper conditioning exercises combined with improving range of motion might help relieve your back pain. Bear in mind that it is always best to rule out a structural issue or mechanical injury such as a herniated disc. In the event that no injury is found, find a conditioning program and stretching that you can do safely to feel better!

 

by Lynne Olsen , trainer at Salvere Health and Fitness. If you’d like to contact Lynne, email her at LynneO@SalvereHealthAndFitness.com or call her at (443) 540-7564.