If you experience both lower back and hip pain, chances are they’re related. In some cases, hip pain is a manifestation of a chronic back problem, just as lower back pain may be a result of tight hamstrings, weak abdominal muscles or inflexible hips. Stretching your back and hips can help you gently increase flexibility and range of motion to reduce — or possibly eliminate — discomfort. Before beginning a stretching routine, ask your health care provider to recommend the best stretches for your lower back and hip pain.
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Child’s pose is a classic yoga rest pose that stretches your upper, middle and lower back, as well as your glutes, which are part of your hip complex. Kneel on the floor with the sides of your feet pressed together and your knees separated approximately hip-width apart. Sit back onto your heels and fold forward, resting your torso on top of your thighs. Place your forehead on the floor, lengthening through the back of your neck. Relax your arms alongside your body, palms face up. Release your shoulders toward the floor, widening through your upper back. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Pelvic tilts stretch your lower back muscles. You can perform them in a number of positions, including lying on the floor, standing or sitting against a wall, on all fours, or on a stability ball. To perform pelvic tilts in a supine position, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Begin with a neutral spine — only your hand should fit between the floor and the arch of your lower back. Engage your abdominal muscles. Tilt your pelvis toward your torso to flatten your lumbar spine against the floor, keeping your gluteal muscles relaxed. Hold it for 30 seconds.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Having tight hip flexors is a common problem for those required to sit a lot. Tight hip flexors can contribute to back pain by placing undue pressure on your lower back. To stretch them, kneel on a folded towel. Place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you, so that your thigh is parallel to the floor and your knee is bent 90 degrees. Put your right hand on your thigh for balance. Place your left hand on your hip. Engage your abdominal muscles and shift your weight forward into your right leg until you feel a stretch that extends from the front of your left hip down into your thigh. Hold it for 30 seconds before alternating sides.
Your piriformis muscle connects the lower region of your spine to the top of your thigh bone, and assists in externally rotating your hip joint. Stretching it can help alleviate lower back and hip pain. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Engage your abdominal muscles. Cross your left ankle over your right knee, and then lift your right foot off the floor until your thigh is vertical and your calf is horizontal. Interlace your fingers behind your right thigh to hold it in place or draw it closer, deepening the stretch. Hold it for 30 seconds, and switch sides.
- “Relief Is in The Stretch: End Back Pain Through Yoga”; Loren M. Fishman, et al.; 2005
- “Healthy Moms Perinatal Fitness Instructor Training Manual”; Sheila Watkins; 2007
- MayoClinic.com: Hip Flexor Stretch
- Total Health Guide: Stretches for Lower Back Pain Relief