Hip Stretching

Hip muscles are significant in low back pain because they derive part of their attachment from the low back.  Therefore, when hip muscles are tight, they can cause low back pain.  Here are some choices for stretching hip muscles:

Lie at the edge of the table or bed with the right knee pulled up to your chest, and your left leg hanging over the edge of the table.  This will stretch the right hip extensor, and the left hip flexor (Note that in the picture above, the young man’s left thigh is not able to reach the table.  This is due to a tight left hip flexor).  From this position, you would want your left thigh to drop below the level of the table.  If you can relax in this position, you will get a good hip flexor stretch.  Hold 30 seconds.  Repeat by reversing which leg is in each position.

The above picture shows another method of stretching hip flexors.  Place one foot on a step and keep your hips tucked under (like a dog tucking its tail).  Keeping your body upright, lunge forward toward the front leg.  The stretch should be felt in the front of the leg that is on the floor.  Hold 30 seconds.

You may also try a kneeling hip stretch:

To stretch the right hip, kneel on the right knee.  Keep your hips tucked under while you lunge forward toward the left foot.  Keep your torso upright throughout the stretch.  Hold 30 seconds and repeat. You may also stretch the opposite hip in the same way.

This one is for the piriformis, a deep rotator of the hip:

This one is a bit complicated to learn, but a very effective stretch:  To stretch the right side, bend the right knee and place your right ankle over the left knee.  Next, bend your left knee up toward your chest, and use your arms to pull the left leg up further, giving an additional stretch to the right side.  Hold 30 seconds.  Repeat for the left side.

The following is an alternative stretch for the deep rotators of the hip:

Lie on your back and pull your knee toward the opposite shoulder.  Hold 30 seconds.  Repeat with opposite leg. 

*note:  Stretches should not HURT.  you should stretch the muscle to the point of tension, and maybe some mild discomfort.  Do not stretch into pain!  A relaxed muscle stretches better than a painful, tense one! 

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