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9 Simple Stretches for Tight Hips and Lower Back Pain

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Let’s just take a moment and take in this statistic: 31,000,000 Americans experience low-back pain at any given time – and that’s a number which continues to grow. It’s not surprising either considering that over half of the nation works long sedentary days at desk jobs. As it stands, according to the UNC School of Medicine, “more than 80 percent of Americans will experience an episode of low back pain at some time in their lives.”[1-3]

As you know, when one body part suffers, the whole body also suffers. For anyone suffering from lower back pain, especially from sitting for hours at a time, the hips can grow extremely tight and limit your mobility.

As poignantly explained by Kelly Collins, a certified NASM personal trainer and registered yoga teacher:

“All of this sitting can cause tightness in the hamstrings, shoulders, and hip flexors, as well as a weakening of the core (abdominals, lower back, and glutes).”

Arguably, one of the most important and affected muscles – your deepest hip flexor – is the Psoas. Since your psoas muscles run on either side of your spine from your lumbar spine to your femurs, tight ones can cause additional strain on your lower back.[4]

Giving your lower back and hips some tender love and care is crucial for optimal and pain-free living. That’s why we’ve compiled a simple nine-stretch routine that offers much-needed hip and lower back pain relief.

9 Stretches for Lower Back Pain and Tight Hips

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Before you start, if you would like, make sure you have an area rug or yoga mat handy. The added cushion will help support your back and allow you to confidently execute these pain-relieving moves. Other than that, this routine doesn’t require any equipment. Getting in looser comfy clothes doesn’t hurt either. All right, ready? Let’s get started!

Note: For each pose, you can hold it for 30 seconds (per side, if necessary) and repeat as needed.

1) Child’s Pose

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What You’ll Stretch: Entire back and glutes to open your hips

  • Begin on your hands and knees with your toes together and your knees slightly wider (like ‘V’ shape with the point starting at your toes)
  • Sit your hips back enough so that your bum is resting on your heels, then slow walk your hands out in front of you and your arms straight
    • But, try not to let your shoulders touch your ears
  • Aim for your forehead to touch the ground but, if that’s not possible, just hold the pose when you feel a comfortable stretch

2) Happy Baby

What You’ll Stretch: Hip flexors and opens up your lower back

  • Lay down on your back
  • Bend your knees and raise them up towards your chest
  • With your arms between your thighs, reach for the outside edges of your feet (or ankles)
  • Try to keep your lower back pressed against the floor (If you can’t keep your back pressed to the flower, hold on closer to your knees)
  • Gently rock side to side without losing control to help massage your lower back

3) Seated Twist

What You’ll Stretch: Glutes, piriformis, and opens the lower back

  • This pose is a bit more challenging, so start with your knees bent and feet on the floor
  • Straighten out your right leg and lift your left leg over (so your foot is beside the knee)
  • Lean back on your left hand to support yourself and place your right arm on the outside of your bent left leg
  • Using your left leg for leverage, push against it in the same (left) direction while keeping your spine and neck upright
  • As you breathe in and out, hold the pose as you look over your shoulder

4) Supine Figure 4

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What You’ll Stretch: Glutes, piriformis, lower back, and also reduces hip pain

  • Lay down on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor (hips-width apart)
  • Next, bend your left knee and place your left ankle above your knee so it’s resting against your thigh
  • Put your left hand through the ‘4’ opening and link fingers behind your right thigh
  • Keeping your head and shoulders planted against the floor, bring your right thigh towards you (If you’re doing it right, you’ll feel a stretch through your left outer hip. Then switch.)

5) Butterfly

What You’ll Stretch: Hip flexors and lower back

  • Sit on the floor and, instead of crossing your legs, bring the bottoms of your feet together
  • Using your hands, hold onto your feet and gently push against your knees with your elbows
  • If you can, lean forward for a deeper stretch

6) Runner’s Lunge

What You’ll Stretch: Quadriceps, abdominal muscles, and hip flexors

  • Begin on your hands and knees, then gently move into a push-up position
  • Slowly slide one leg up so that it’s parallel with and in between your hands
  • Then, press your hips forward for that much-needed stretch before switching legs

7) Knee to Chest

What You’ll Stretch: Lower back and glutes (it even helps align your pelvis)

  • Lay flat on the ground with your back pressed against the floor
  • Bend one knee and gently draw that leg up to your chest (while keep your other leg fully extended and against the floor)

8) Cow Face Legs

What You’ll Stretch: Lower back and outer hips

  • In a seated position, stack one bent knee on top of the other (it’s like over-crossing your legs)
  • Make sure to flex your feet to support yourself but, more importantly, to protect your knees
  • Once your balanced in this position, straighten your back and breathe deeply

9) Cat and Cow

What You’ll Stretch: Whole back and core (abdominal muscles, lower back, and glutes)

  • Get onto all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees spread right beneath your hips
  • Inhale and, as you do, arch your spine in time with your breath
  • Next, on the exhale, tighten your core and round your back like a cat

How’d you find that?

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Whether you’re using these nine stretches to relieve pain or prevent it, there is no better time than now to start! You can do them basically anywhere, too. While you’re watching your favorite show, in your office, at the foot of your bed, etc. We hope these simple stretches help relieve your hip and lower back pain.

[1] Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People without Back Pain | NEJM. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8208267

[2] Freburger, J. K., Holmes, G. M., Agans, R. P., Jackman, A. M., Darter, J. D., Wallace, A. S., . . . Carey, T. S. (2009, February 09). The Rising Prevalence of Chronic Low Back Pain. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4339077/

[3] Chronic low back pain on the rise: UNC study finds ‘alarming increase’ in prevalence. (2011, February 24). Retrieved from http://www.med.unc.edu/www/newsarchive/2009/february/chronic-low-back-pain-on-the-rise-unc-study-finds-alarming-increase-in-prevalence

[4] Northrup, C. (2016, December 06). Why Your Psoas Muscle Is The Most Vital Muscle in Your Body. Retrieved from https://www.drnorthrup.com/psoas-muscle-vital-muscle-body/

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