The relationship between back pain and tight hips
If I were to ask a room full of women ‘who has tight hips?’ - I can guarantee you that a majority of the room will say yes. I can almost equally guarantee that if I ask the group of women who said yes, ‘have you ever experienced lower back pain?’ - the answer would also be yes.
While lower back pain and tight hips are both common among women, they aren’t necessarily related. There are many causes of back pain and many elements to its treatment or management.
One thing is certain though – the hip flexor muscles are directly connected to your spine. The psoas is one of your main hip flexor muscles and it attaches from your femur to your lumbar vertebrae (the lumbar region is your lower back).
If your hips are tight, there is a good chance that this will pull your pelvis into what we call an anterior pelvic tilt. I like to call it a ‘duck bum!’. Easier to visualise now?
An anterior pelvic tilt is basically when your pelvis is tilted forward, causing your lower back to curve inwards. This inward curvature of your lower back can put a lot of pressure on your spine and easily cause back pain.
You may have noticed that your back will begin to hurt after a long walk or a prolonged period wearing high heels. Both of these activities can easily pull your pelvis into an anterior pelvic tilt, causing excessive load and pressure on your lower back. Too much sitting can also contribute to an anterior pelvic tilt, due to your hip flexors remaining in a shortened position while you are seated.
So if you like going for long walks and you also sit at a desk all day, you may want to check your hip health to avoid lower back pain!
While it is important to stretch your hip flexors, it is very possible that your hip flexors are tight, due to some kind of imbalance in your body. If you have lower back pain and tight hips, I highly recommend checking in with a physiotherapist or giving Pilates a go! You could very well have tight hamstrings and/or weak glutes which also need to be addressed.
For now, give this hip stretch a go! I like to do it before a workout or after a prolonged period of sitting.
Kneeling hip flexor stretch
Set Up: Start in a 4-point kneeling position and place your right foot out in front of your body, turning your knee and foot out to the side.
Inhale, straighten out your back leg and lift your back knee off the ground.
Exhale, gently pulse your left hip down towards the ground and simultaneously pulse your right knee out to the side. Repeat on the other side!
Note: You can also do this stretch with your knee on the ground.