From a simple muscle strain to slipped or bulging spinal discs, there are a number of things that can cause lower back pain. Unfortunately, one of the more common causes is also most often overlooked: tight hip muscles and jointsight hip muscles and joints could actually be what’s putting stress on your lower back.
See, when a muscle is constricted or tight, it keeps tension on everything around it. If there’s too much tension, it’ll actually pull forward everything that’s connected in order to help ease the tension. When your hips are too tight, your body shifts forward and you naturally start to put pressure and strain on your lower back.
So here are a few quick exercises that will not only help you open up your hips, but will also help relieve that pressure in your back. The best part? Each move takes a couple of minutes, so the whole sequence will only run you about 10 minutes a day.
Stretch it out: There are plenty of stretches designed to help you start opening up your hips. Here are a few to get you started.
1. Spinal twist
This move helps relieve pressure by gently relaxing your back muscles as it opens up your hips.
Laying on your right side, pull your top (left) knee up to a 90-degree angle and use your bottom arm to gently hold that knee down so you’re only working the stretch one way.
Drop your head down, take a deep breath in and on the exhale, gently grab your ribs with your left hand and rotate back to the left as far as you can. You should be feeling a good stretch in the low and mid back. You can adjust the knee to feel the stretch at a different spot in your back. As you go down, turn your head so you’re looking over your left shoulder.
After five breathes, drop your left arm to the ground. Try to get your left should to relax and breathe, working your shoulder as close to the ground as you can. Stay here for a minute, then switch sides and repeat.
2. Thoracic bridge
This move will help stretch and strengthen your muscles at the same time.
Start in a “crawling position” on your hands and feet, knees bent a few inches off the ground. In a controlled motion, lift your right hand and left foot simultaneously, bringing your chest up to face the ceiling. Once your chest is facing up, place your left foot back down so you’re in a modified tripod (right hand is still lifted).
Making sure your left shoulder is engaged, drive your hips up. This will activate the glute, maintain stability in your shoulder and give you a nice thoracic rotation. Come back through and repeat on the other side.
3. Pigeon pose
This is a great stretch that helps open up the hips and stretch the glutes.
Start on all fours, then slide your right knee forward. You’ll probably feel a little tension, so angling your knee at around 2 o’clock helps relieve that. Slide your left leg as far back as you can and keep your hips square. Hold for 15-30 seconds (or more if you’re really feeling it), and then repeat on the other side.
4. IT band foam roll
Don’t get me wrong: foam rolling can be painful. But it’s also one of the fastest ways to see results. This move works the muscles and fascia around your IT band.
Lie on your side and support your body weight with your arms and legs. Place the foam roller on the upper outside portion of your thigh. Roll and let the foam roller travel down along your leg to just above the knee. Return to your original position. Repeat a few times.
5. Glute foam roll
Sit on top of the foam roller and cross one leg over the other. Lean slightly toward the direction of the side/leg you’re trying to stretch. Slowly roll your way down the muscle … but don’t fall off! You don’t need to move very far to work this stretch really well.