to your health articleIt’s all about the hips and the hips don’t lie. It sounds like a joke or a song you hear on the radio, but it is true. As a Physical Therapist and being an avid mountain biker, I have seen a significant increase in lower back pain and the associated hip flexor muscle (illiopsoas) tightness. We all tend to blame our muscles for the aches and pains we have, but we should really blame ourselves for not understanding that the muscles are doing what they should be doing.  

If you put them in a short position such as sitting at a desk for work, sleeping in a fetal position, or getting on a mountain bike for a few hours the hip flexors are going to adaptively shorten.  This adaptive shortening inhibits the ability for your powerhouse muscles (gluteus maximus and medius), in other words your booty, to generate the power to move well or go faster on the bike.  We need to understand that stretching the hip flexor muscle will alone improve our efficiency and power output which means more speed or it means less back pain.  

to your health blog picIf you are one of the millions of hard working Americans that sit at a desk for hours on end, whether at work or in school, you must have some maintenance program to unwind the tightness.

Ask yourself a question, do you feel like an old man or woman when you stand after sitting? If your answer is YES, then you should consider a little self-mobilization/soft tissue work and a good hip flexor stretch.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to lie your stomach and roll really high on the front of the hip on a foam roller for 2-3 minutes on each side – it should be really uncomfortable but you shouldn’t ever feel like you are injuring yourself.  One of my other favorites is to lie on a small to medium size ball right along the hip flexor. Where exactly is your hip flexor you ask? Well, take your hand to the top of your hip bone on the front side. Move one inch towards your center and one inch down. That will more or less land you on the start of the hip flexor tendon. The muscle group affected lie above that region. Lying on a ball, you can follow that line to reach the affected areas. The idea is to allow the ball to settle into the hip flexor muscle and literally try to breathe deeply into the stomach and allow the muscle to melt the tension away.  Then you follow that up with a good 1-2 min hip flexor stretch.  

If you are looking for daily simple stretches you can perform either of the two illustrated, but remember if you have any lower back pain please stop and ask a professional.

Dustin Hancock, PT, DPT.