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Stand Tall, Move Free: Improving Hip Mobility to Decrease Low Back Injury Risk.

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

“I simply do not have enough time to stretch or warm up. I barely even have enough time to workout!’

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had one goal in mind when working out: building muscle. Like every other early twenty something, juggling classes, relationships, and internships were enough in my day let alone adding an additional 15–20 minutes to a workout to warm up and improve mobility.

It wouldn’t be until my clinical career as a physical therapist that I really began to realize the importance of joint mobility (particularly spinal and hip mobility) and the noticeable association with those experiencing low back pain. I have treated thousands of clients with low back pain and the ones that improved the quickest were the ones with better joint mobility. These individuals would typically perform prescribed movements better and recover faster.

In the case of low back pain, a condition 84% of the general population will experience sometime in their life and nearly 1 in 4 will experience chronically, which is pain lasting greater than 3 months (Roach, et al. 2015). It is important to recognize and implement mobility activities to protect, reduce, and recover effectively as possible. You still may be thinking “Ok, but I don’t have enough time to do a bunch of stretches. What is the ONE movement to focus on.”

The #1 motion Roach identified was: hip extension range of motion (Roach, et al. 2015).

I am sure there are many theories as to why people may lack hip extension but two primary reasons are:

  1. ) Tight hip flexors (the muscle that runs down the front of your hip)

  2. ) Weak glutes! (everyone knows where that is)

So what causes these two primary deficits? A major contributor is prolonged sitting. AKA sedentary jobs. When you’re sitting on your glutes, you’re not using them. Also when you’re sitting, your hip flexors are in a “shortened position” causing tightness in the hips. So to improve hip extension and strengthen the glutes, these are my favorite exercises. These exercises can be done WITHOUT EQUIPMENT and NO GYM MEMBERSHIP.


Hip Flexor Mobility Exercise:

Hip Flexor Strengthening Exercise:

Start to implement these exercises 2–3 times a week throughout your program and see if you can feel the difference.

In conclusion, hip mobility is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy back and reducing the risk of low back pain. Limited hip mobility can lead to compensatory movements in the lower back, resulting in pain and injury. Incorporating hip mobility exercises into your daily routine, such as the ones discussed above can help improve your range of motion, improve strength, decrease your risk of injury, and may alleviate any existing low back pain. Remember to always consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or are experiencing chronic pain. Taking proactive steps to improve hip mobility can have a significant impact on your overall well-being and quality of life.

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