At some point in your life, you are bound to experience lower back and hip pain. This is especially true if you sit at a desk for eight hours per day, or stand for the same amount of time. Sitting ruins posture, creating tension in the upper back and tightness in the hips, while standing increases the curve of your lower back and puts pressure on the surrounding spine. Life doesn’t want you to win, but you can fight the pain without ever walking into a doctor’s office. All you have to do is stretch.
The deepest hip flexor, the psoas, directly connects to the lumbar spine (in the lower back). If hip flexors tighten, they tug on that area of the spine, which is why you feel stiffness, tightness, or ashiness in the lower back. Back to the psoas muscle for just a moment. This muscle is attached around the mid-spine and connects to each vertebra as it continues down the body. It acts as a thigh and hip flexor and you can thank it for helping you move. Standing or sitting for long periods can cause this muscle to become tight, which is exactly what you want to avoid. A tight psoas is your ticket to lower back and hip pain, but these stretches can help you counteract that tightness, loosening you up to improve mobility.
Happy Baby Pose
Happy baby pose is the perfect place to begin your journey to better mobility, as it is a gentle stretch that opens the hips and stretches the lower back. Lie flat on your back and bend your legs toward your chest. Splay your legs open from side to side and lift your feet into the air above your chest, facing the soles of your feet to the ceiling. Reach your hands up to grab the soles of your feet from the outside edges. Make sure that you press your lower back into the floor, holding your knees closer to your chest if necessary. Don’t let your back leave the floor while you hold this pose for 30 seconds. If you like, you can rock side to side to massage the lower back.
If this doesn’t make your hips and back happy, we don’t know what will. During this stretch, you should feel your hip flexors lengthen, but make sure not to rush through the motions. Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, stacking your shoulders over your hands and hips above your knees. Step your left foot back so that your shin is flat on the ground, forming a 45-degree angle with your thigh. Bend the right knee to step your foot beneath your hands, making sure the knee doesn’t extend beyond your toes. Tuck the left toes under and come up onto them as you straighten your left leg. You should feel a stretch along the front of your left hip and thigh. Take a few deep breaths and hold for 20 seconds before switching sides.
This is a beautiful stretch to open up the hip adductors and hip flexors. Your adductors are the muscles that run along your inner thighs. Begin standing up straight with your feet wider than shoulder-width. There should be about a three-foot space between your feet. Point your toes out slightly and squat down as if you are going to sit in a chair. Keeping your back straight, place your hands on your inner thighs and press to open your legs until you feel a stretch along the inner thighs and groin. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
If you want to reduce lower back and hip pain, you have to stretch the glutes and piriformis, in addition to the hip flexors. This is a gentle stretch that should elongate your tight gluteus muscles. Lie flat on your back and bend your knees, placing your feet on the ground hip-distance apart. Bring your right knee toward your chest and bend it out to the side, placing your ankle above your left knee on the thigh. Reach your right hand between your legs to interlace it with your left hand behind your left thigh. Keep your head and shoulders on the ground as you draw the left thigh towards you, pulling until you feel a stretch along the outer right hip. Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides.
This is a basic yoga pose, but it provides incredible relief to your back, and it also works to open up the hips by stretching the glutes. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, stacking your shoulders over your hands and hips above your knees. Angle your knees out to the sides and bring your big toes together. Sit your hips back onto your heels and walk your hands forward until you can lower your forehead to the ground. If you cannot bring your forehead to the ground, that is completely fine. Ideally, you should feel a stretch in your lower and upper back. You can extend your fingertips and walk your hands to each side to stretch your sides as well. Hold for at least 30 seconds, or as long as you need to remain in the stretch.