#1 Maintain Proper Flexibility Through the Hips.
Our body is an assembly line of joints. When one joint isn’t moving properly or working enough, the next joint has to work even harder. Over time this can lead to joint degeneration, poor movement patterns, and pain.
When we have hips not functioning properly either due to flexibility or stability problems, the low back has to work overtime. The low back isn’t designed to have the same amount of mobility as the hips, so when the low back is asked to work overtime and bend more or support more than is safe, it leads to joint degeneration and pain.
How do we know if our hips are tight or not working properly?
The modified thomas test is a quick general assessment of hip tightness.
1. Sit at the edge of a table
2. Hug one knee to your chest
3. Rock backwards onto your back.
4. Comfortably let your lower leg relax
We want to see how much resting tension is in your lower leg. If you have adequate mobility through the front of your hips and thighs the downside leg should lay parallel or lower than the level of the table and your foot should rest directly below your knee. Most people can force their leg into this position, but that’s not the point, we want to see the resting tension in your leg. So just let your leg relax.
If your thigh rests higher than the table and/or your foot does not rest below your knee, this indicates that you have increased tension in your hips. To decrease the tension in your hips and take strain off the low back it is critical you achieve more mobility in the hips through proper stretching and stability exercises.
A common stretch for hip and thigh tightness is kneeling and standing hip flexor stretches. For instructions on how to perform these watch this video.
After performing the stretches, core and hip stability exercises are needed to help keep the range of motion changes permanent. If you are someone that stretches frequently, but doesn’t seem to get any more flexible, you may need to incorporate the proper stability exercises into your routine to make the changes permanent.