I often hear the words, “my lower back feels so stiff”, my response is always “do you stretch?”, and most of the time the answer is “No, not really”. Over the next few weeks I will go through a few different muscles that can be stretched to help reduce lower back pain and stiffness.
Your hips are the bridge between your upper and lower body, and are the centre of your body’s movement. The psoas or commonly known as the hip flexor is the only muscle that connects your upper and lower body together. The hip flexor affects our posture and helps to stabilise the spine, if it’s out of balance, too tight, or too loose it can be a significant contributor to low back and pelvic pain.
Let’s think about where and how you spend most of your day. Your hip flexors control your balance, and are being engaged every time you take a step, as you walk, run, train, sit, stand, bend, reach, twist you name it. All of these constant contractions cause the muscle to shorten, which without getting too technical can lead to pain in many other areas, such as an overly tight low back. Which extends further to symptoms such as postural problems, groin pain, stomach pain, lower back pain, low back stiffness and hip immobility.
Hip Flexor stretches are one of the most important when it comes to reducing such low back pain symptoms. You do not need equipment, and there are varied levels of complexity depending on your flexibility levels. The simplest stretch would be the kneeling quad stretch. Kneel on one foot and the other knee. If needed hold onto something to keep your balance. Push your pelvis forward until you feel the stretch through the lower leg, leaning back slightly. If you cannot feel it, try lifting your knee and holding with with your hand (like the image below), or put your foot further in front so you have to stretch further forward.