The Importance of Hip Flexibility for Lower Back Health.
By Osteopath, Melissa McDougall B.Clin.Sc. M.H.Sc. D.P.O.
Hip flexibility is essential in lower back health. Our hips are designed to move, and when stiff, we compensate by creating more movement in our low back and pelvis, and this sometimes results in lower back strain and sprain.
This compensation pattern can occur in children, adults and pregnant women.
The following exercise is one I prescribe to many of my patients with back pain. It is suitable for children and adults alike. Before performing any stretch it is essential that you are slightly warm (ie: not straight out of bed). A variation for pregnancy is included below.
Please note that these stretches are not designed to diagnose or treat any condition. If you have a severe low back condition, it is best to speak with your GP or an osteopath before performing this stretch. It is not suitable for anyone with a hip replacement, or people who cannot kneel due to knee pain.
1. Begin on the hands and knees.
2. To stretch the left buttock, shift the knees over to the right side, take the right leg behind the left.
3. Straighten, then slide the right leg back to sit down into the left hip.Keep the back straight, but shift the body weight slightly over the left hip.
4. Breathe and relax into the stretch. As you breath out, gently bring the lower tummy toward your spine. This activates the core muscles and helps relax the lower back.
Hold the stretch for around 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
Variation for Pregnancy:
1. Sitting on a chair, feet on the ground, feet slightly in front of the knees.
2. Lift one leg, rotate at the hip to place the ankle on the opposite knee. If the stretch is too strong at this point, slide the foot on the ground further forward in front of you.
3. Let the knee of the lifted leg relax towards the floor. Gently sit tall and ‘stick you bottom out’ behind you- just like a duck!
4. Hold the stretch for around 20 seconds if comfortable and repeat on the other side.
This exercise will provide a gentle stretch in the buttock region, if you feel any pain, come out of the exercise gently and slowly, and seek medical advice from an osteopath or your GP/obstetrician.
Have fun with flexible hips!!