MOVE BETTER. LIVE BETTER.
Your hip inflexibility or weakness may be contributing to your lower back pain
If you are currently experiencing pain in the low back, there may be several reasons for your symptoms. There may be spasms in the muscles, you may have a problem with one or a few discs, you may have a pinched nerve, or your back may be simply moving and working more than it should be.
A common impairment I see in patients who come to physical therapy for low back pain is that their hips are both weak and tight. When we walk, run, bend forward to pick up an object, or stand for prolonged periods, there are certain range of motion and strength requirements from our hip muscles, such as the hip flexors and glutes. If these muscles aren’t supporting our body adequately during these tasks, our spine and spinal muscles will need to compensate. When these muscles work harder or our spine moves excessively, irritation or inflammation can begin, which leads to an onset of pain. This is also a reason why there are failed back surgeries or negative findings in MRIs or Xrays.
When a physical therapist performs an initial evaluation, he or she will perform tests for your back, of course, but will also test other joints, such as your hips, knees, and ankles. More often than not, the site of pain is not where the cause is. By improving flexibility and strength in the hips, you will help to decrease your risk of developing pain. If you currently have pain, I would suggest focusing on hip stretches and exercises. Better yet, set up an initial evaluation to get a full assessment by a physical therapist.
By Ryan Kahanu, PT, DPT