Mobilise your hips to reduce Lower Back Pain

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During his presentation at the UKSCA 2011 conference Bill Foran S&C Coach for the Miami Heat presented a concept I instantly liked – Joint by Joint. It originates from Gray Cook & Mike Boyle check out this link for a full explanation of the concept.

Essentially the primary needs of each joint are as follows:

Joint — Primary Need

Ankle — Mobility (sagittal)

Knee — Stability

Hip — Mobility (multi-planar)

Lumbar Spine — Stability

Thoracic Spine — Mobility

Scapula — Stability

Gleno-humeral — Mobility

For this post I’m just going to focus on the importance of hip mobility, the impact on the body when we have lost mobility and some practical exercises to improve it.

As above in an ideal scenario the hips are mobile and the lumbar spine is stable.

But when we lose hip mobility, we get lower back pain because the lumbar spine becomes unstable.

So this is the symptom you may see in yourself or your clients/athletes along with hamstring strains.

Without getting into too technical and complex terms for the non-scientists reading this the problem starts because when the muscles in and around the hips become immobile, it is the lumbar (base) spine that begins to bend and extend to produce movements due to the fact the movement is no available through the hip.

So what can we do to get more mobile at the hip?

Here are just a couple of suggestions for exercises to improve mobility to the hips and take some of the strain off the lower back.

Full Hip Lunge Stretch

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  • Start in a press up position
  • Bring your left foot up to your left hand
  • Keep the rear leg extended, chest up and glute firing on the trailing leg to force hip extension
  • Keep your chest up so your back stays straight hold in this position for 1 minute 
  • Then drive the left elbow down to the instep of your left foot and hold for a further 30-60 seconds
  • Repeat on the opposite side

You can also add in rotational movements to the stretch to get get a more three dimensional stretch through hips. I’ll add some pics for this at a later date.

Split Squats

I love split squats for a number of reasons but one of the main reasons I get people to use them is for the dynamic stretch they provide through the hip of the trailing leg as you lower into the bottom position.

As well as increasing strength they help to either improve flexibility in clients/athletes who are tight through the hips or as a strategy to maintain a good range of movement along with static stretches such as the one above.

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  • Standing feet hip width apart, take a long stride forward
  • Keeping your front knee above or behind the ankle, drop the back knee down to just above the floor
  • Keep your torso upright through out
  • Drive back up to the start position, repeat for 10 reps, then change sides

There are lots of other exercises out there but these are two I’ve found to be very effective & I’ll add some more exercises into this post as soon as I get chance, but let me know if you find they make a difference for you. If you’re a coach and you’ve got some other good options get in touch, I’m always keen to learn.

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