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Ease low back pain - 3 stretches to loosen tight hip flexors

If you are like most people these days you spend a lot of time in front of the computer, watching TV, driving, or looking at your smart device. What do all these have in common? Sitting. Sitting for long periods of time causes all sorts of problems not the least of which are tight muscles. Because the hips are bent, the muscles that cause those joints to bend become tight and pull other structures more than they should. In the case of hip flexors, that other structure is the low back. Consequently, if you have tight hip flexors you will have a sore low back. If you don’t already, you will.

The Fix

There are three steps to easing tight hip flexors – releasing, stretching, and strengthening. For a detailed description of the muscles involved, and how to release them, check out this blog post. Strengthening exercises will be covered in the next blog post so be sure to check back next week. Meanwhile, this post will cover 3 different ways to stretch the hip flexors. Each one has its own advantages depending on your location and targets the muscles slightly differently. Let’s get to it.

Do one of the following daily.

Lying – best done at home

  1. Sit on the edge of a stable table or bench

  2. Lie down on your back and pull both legs toward your rib cage with your hands

  3. Your low back should be pressed against the surface

  4. Grab your left leg between your thigh and lower leg to protect your knee

  5. Slowly extend your right leg until it hangs freely in the air and relax for 10 seconds

  6. Resist by lifting your right leg toward the ceiling 1 to 2 inches and hold for 5 seconds

  7. Deepen to a new stretch point by relaxing the leg and hold for 10 seconds

  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 three more times

  9. Repeat other side

To increase the stretch in the muscle, hang a weight or a bag from your right leg.

Half-Kneeling – best done on a carpet

  1. Kneel with your left knee on the ground and your right foot on the ground front of your left knee.

  2. Tuck your hips under until you feel the glutes of your left leg contract – pretend you are a scared dog, and you want to hide that tail

  3. Keep the torso upright without arching the low back

  4. Raise the right arm up and over your head and hold this stretch for 10 seconds

  5. Relax your arm down while you isometrically contract the hip flexors by trying to pull the bottom knee forward along the floor and hold 5 seconds

  6. Relax the contraction and lean the whole body forward to a new stretch point and hold 10 seconds

  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 three more times

  8. Repeat other side

This version has the added advantage of stretching your shoulders.

Standing – best done at the office

  1. Stand facing a wall approximately 2 feet from it and place your hands on the wall for balance

  2. With both feet pointing straight forward, stand back with the right leg approximately 1 foot

  3. Tuck your hips underneath you (like the dog mentioned above)

  4. Hold this stretch 10 seconds

  5. Isometrically contract your hip flexor by trying to pulling your right foot forward and hold for 5 seconds

  6. Relax the contraction and lean your whole body forward slightly to a new stretch point and hold 10 seconds - don't arch the low back

  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 three more times

  8. The right buttock muscles should be tight during the entire process

  9. Repeat other side

This version has the added advantage of stretching your calves. Any of these stretches should be done daily to relieve hip flexor tightness reducing the pressure on the low back.


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