According to the American Chiropractic Association, about 31 million Americans suffer from low back pain at any given time. Most of these pains are from mechanical stress, mental stress and wear-and-tear upon the spinal joints over time. Most of the time, back pain is associated with tight hips and weak core muscles, which provide the base of support for your body. You can prevent most of these problems by doing proper postural exercises daily to counteract the stress in your life and be aware of how your body moves.
Gray Cook, founder of Functional Movement Systems in Danville, Virginia, points out that tight hip muscles from lack of activity causes the tissues and muscles in your hips to lack proper range of motion and strength. When they get stiff, your lower back has to compensate the work by doing the hip's job of flexing and extending the leg and hip. For example, if you rotate your body to the left without moving your right hip and leg, then your back and outer abdominal muscles have to do most of the rotation.
Tight hips and lower back pain both contribute to numerous problems associated with movement and joints, such as arthritis, bursitis, muscles spasms in the back, and shoulder and neck pain. Sciatica is also another common symptom caused by tight hips and back pain, which is the irritation of the sciatic nerve or its nerve roots in the lower spine. They also cause limited mobility in your body which inhibits you from doing simple tasks, such as sitting down, getting out of bed or carrying a half-gallon water jug. These problems often cause people to be discouraged from being physically active which can lead to weight gain, muscle atrophy and weakness, and weaker cardiovascular and respiratory system.
The best way to prevent back pain and tight hips is to move frequently. Avoid sitting or standing in any position for a long time, and take periodic breaks from work so you can stretch, walk and move around to increase blood circulation and alleviate muscle tension. This will also help you mentally focus better for work even after a three-minute exercise break.
According to Lenny Parracino, owner of Kinetic Conditioning in Montrose, California, avoid exercising on resistance training machines that require you to work one muscle group at a time or in a seated position. Instead, do full-body exercises that emphasizes different movement patterns that require you to use your core for balance and strength.
For example, rather than using a leg press machine, do bodyweight squats or lunges which strengthens your entire body without external support. The squat and lunge require you to use your core and hips for strength which can prevent back pain, if done properly.
If you have chronic pain, see a qualified chiropractor, massage therapist or physical therapist who works with soft tissues and joints. They can help you alleviate the symptoms and the source of the pain, and provide corrective exercises for you to do daily to maintain the treatment.
- "Athletic Body in Balance"; Gray Cook; 2003
- "Pain-Free Program"; Anthony Carey; 2005
- American Chiropractic Association; Back Pain Facts & Statistics