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Lower back and hip stretching.

Lower back and hip stretches don't have to be hard. Honestly, it takes just a few minutes and the relief can be long lasting. I like to refer to the hips and lower back as the lumbopelvic complex. They are so closely related that you can’t stretch one without stretching the other. This makes sense when we talk about hip and lower back treatment as well. We need to treat the lumbopelvic complex, both the hips and lower back need attention to have long lasting relief. Let’s go through some of the best ways to stretch your hips and lower back throughout your day. One is standing and one is sitting. They are virtually safe for everyone! It’s time to loosen up your body!

Discliamer: While these have worked for many people and I include evidence based treatments, the best approach is to receive a comprehensive physical examination buy a healthcare provider.

Reach out if you are the Ponte Vedra and Nocatee Florida area and you are looking for high quality care for your lower back pain.

Stretching can help with morning stiffness and loosen up lower back muscles. Most of the time we feel that we need to stretch after sitting for a long time or after just waking up in the morning. This is due to a few reasons but mostly because of fluid accumulating in our joints. I often hear of people reporting joint pressure with stiffness.

Top 3 things to consider when stretching your hips and lower back.

I have never heard of someone feeling worse after they loosen up their hips and lower back. Dialing in the perfect routine for your body can be challenging but that’s why learning your body and trying different stretches is important. Hip and lower back pain stretches are essential to help people avoid more invasive treatments.

Give your body a little TLC so it can last you a lifetime! 

However, there are some things to keep in mind:

  1. There is no once size fits all approach. After years of treating hip and lower back pain you learn very quickly that if you treat everyone the same, people don't achieve the outcomes they deserve. The first step should be figuring if your pain was true hip or lower back pain. This may help you with this.
  2. I would try stretching, strengthening, and other conservative measures before pursuing imaging such as an MRI. The risk of something seriously wrong is low and MRIs have an increase likelihood of receiving surgery, injections, and etc. MRIs for lower back pain are not as necessary as some may think! 
  3. Soreness doesn’t equal harm. Your body needs to be a little sore. Growth is always uncomfortable. Just think about the first time you lifted weights. Soreness is apart of the process but it feels very different than pain. Soreness and pain can be in the same area but soreness is often tender. If you are really tender to touch, it is often muscle soreness. To loosen up tight low back muscles, you need a good amount of force and tension through the muscles. The best outcomes come from stretching followed by strengthening. After learning to stretch, it can be helpful to learn what exercises to avoid with lower back pain.

Hip and lower back stretches can be done in sitting and standing. Standing is really convenient but sitting may be a little more focused. Try both and see what you like best.

Best hip and lower back stretch standing.

The reality is, most of us want to be really efficient when it comes to stretching. It needs to be easy, quick, and effective. Well, to achieve this we need to combine movements. This exercise allows us to stretch multiple hip and lower back muscles at once. This led me to really enjoy this standing stretch to help loosen up the hips and lower back. This stretch is very convenient and is relatively safe lower back and hip stiffness. Here are the steps I often go through when completing this stretch.

  1. Take a large step backwards after starting your feet together. You will be a stagger position. Then very slight bend the back leg.
  2. Rotate towards the leg in front of you. This will stretch both legs and the lower back. You can feel it in the front of the back leg as well.
Standing hip and lower back stretch hip flexor focus
Standing hip and lower back stretch hip flexor focus starting position
Standing hip and lower back stretch hip flexor focus end position
Standing hip and lower back stretch end position

I really enjoy this stretch. One of the great things about physical therapy is learning convenient ways to improve your body.

Best hip and lower back stretch while sitting.

This may be more appealing for those with poor balance or if you have to sit a lot during the day. Sitting can be a nice way to learn how to feel the difference between stretching your back vs. stretching your hips.  

This next exercise is often referred to a seated piriformis stretch. This muscle attaches to your hip so you can often feel it into your lower back and hips. Here are the steps I use to feel that good hip and lower back stretch.

  1. When sitting, cross one leg over the other with the outside ankle bone of the top leg just past the leg that has the foot on the ground.
  2. Place one hand on the top leg near the ankle and the other about 5 inches away. Don't worry if your top leg isn't parallel to the ground! 
  3. Gently press down with the elbow that is near the knee of the top leg. Slowly apply pressure as you lean forward. This is key! 
  4. Keep your back tall as you lean forward. You should feel a good buttock or lower back stretch. If you have knee pain you may want to lighten the pressure.
  5. Press, hold, and lean for about 2-3 seconds then relax! 
Seated piriformis stretch

I love this stretch to loosen up tight hip and lower back muscles. Now don't forget to stretch your hip flexors as well! 

Hip and lower back stretch routine

Developing the perfect hip and lower back stretch routine is important! Every body is different. In an ideal world, you would set up an evaluation with a physical therapist to help you learn about your body and learn where to start so you can really dial in what is appropriate for you! If you are the DIY type then explore some videos and educational pieces to help guide you when you are learning some new stretches. Here are the muscles I like to focus on when building hip and lower back stretching routines. Ideally your want to shoot for a routine that you can do in about 10 minutes. Any longer, I find that people just don't do it. Don't be that person! 

  1. Hip flexors. These nasty little guy can get really tight especially if you sitting most of your day. They start in your lower back and attach to your hips so they are low hanging fruit! 
  2. Glutes. There is a lot of meat in your buttocks! Loosen them up and enjoy.
  3. Quadriceps. Long and strong. That's the story of the quads. They attach to your pelvic and can pull you into a little bit of lumbar extension.
  4. Hamstrings. These can be especially tight in the morning. I promise you it will be easier to bend over after you loosen your hamstrings.
  5. Lower back. Let's make sure it address the lower back.

These are some ways to address the biggest and often problematic areas of your hips and lower back. The feeling after doing some good stretching is well worth the time commitment! Yoga is a good substitute. if you feel that yoga is something you have always wanted to try, then go for it! 

In summary, it takes time and effort to stretch the lower back and hips, but it's well worth it! Especially if it can help you feel better avoid more costly and risky interventions. You can do these lower back and hip stretches in standing and sitting to give you relief wherever you are. Finding that perfect routine for your body is important. Give your body a little TLC so it can last you a lifetime! 

If you want to know more about improving hip and lower back pain check out this free webinar. It covers differences between hip and back pain as well as common treatments for both as well as best evidence for recovery! 

Revision Health Services now offers telehealth for Florida residents as well as massage and physical therapy locally in, Nocatee, Ponte Vedra, and St. Johns, Florida. To find out if our services could be the best fit for you, reach out and let's chat!

Until next time, stay healthy, keep moving, and take care of yourself.

Dr. Michael Derry is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and board certified in orthopedics. He is very passionate about treating lower back pain and helping people build their resiliency. He has spent time assisting at universities as well as managing large clinics before starting his own practice in Jacksonville, FL.

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