Anyone who has experienced low back pain can relate to how it can make ordinary, routine tasks uncomfortable or undoable (is that a word?). In my practice, I would estimate that a majority of back pain issues stem from tight hip flexors. Hip flexor muscles originate from T12 -L4, attach to the hip and beyond, finally attaching to the femur or thigh bone. Their main jobs are to either bring your legs to your trunk or bring your trunk toward your legs. One of the flexors, the iliopsoas, actually crosses seven different joints, and becomes shortened and weak from sitting. In todays world, all of us basically move from one sitting position to another-thus the hip flexors become very tight and weak. An over-arched and painful lower back can result. A great exercise for when you’ve been sitting or as a warmup is called the Back-Saving Lunge. Jason Ross, D.C., C.S.C.S., recommends this exercise to patients he sees with back pain. Stand tall with feet shoulder width apart, and take a step forward with your left leg. Keeping your torso upright (tight hip flexors cause you to lean forward), lower the right knee to almost touching, keeping the left knee directly over your foot. Drive through the heel of your left foot, quickly stand tall and squeeze both your gluts (butt) and clench your fists, then repeat on the other side. Try 10-15 reps, it’s a geat warm-up. When you squeeze your gluts and fists, you activate that long, spiral line of fascia and restore length in your hip flexor muscles, which will relieve stress on your lower back. You get two for one; back pain relief and bilateral strength. I’ve been doing this for about a week, and have been amazed at how much weaker my left side is compared to my right. It was big news to me, but something I can now sink my teeth into to fix. Try it out.
Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.