Lower back ache due to tight hips?

As the centre of our body the hips has an important job to balance us in all directions and connect our lower body to our upper body. However sitting still for long periods of time will start shortening the muscles at the front of your hip, connecting your abdomen to your thighs.

If you then stand up and your hip is tight rather than lengthening, the pelvis will be tipped forward, so the opposite to what happens if you have tight hamstrings (read more about that here).

That forward tilt will shorten and compress your lower back and increase the natural curve we have there. With your hip locked in that forward position your lower back will also have to do a lot more work, for example when you bend forward to pick something up the movement will come from your back rather than your hip.

So if you constantly feel pressure, pain or niggles in your lower back and massage or stretching doesn’t seem to do anything the problem could be your hips being to tight.

You might also have heard that it is common to store stress and negative emotions in your hips, and there is actually a scientific reason for this.

A while ago (when we were hunters and gatherers) we were surviving and relaying a lot on our instincts, fight or flight. So when something stressful happened, like an angry looking bear (or boss) coming charging towards us, the middle part of our body (the hips) would tense up and prepare us to either use our legs to run or our arms to fight.

So as with most bad things it is easy to end up in a negative spiral, where your tight hips causes your body to think that something stressful is happening, which results in you being stressed and therefore tense up your hips even more.

To break out of this spiral you might have to do some gentle hip stretches and actively trying to relax and release tension in your mind and your body, specifically your hips.

 

Try Baddha konasana – bound angle pose

Sit down on the floor (you can always raise your hips slightly if you feel you lower back curving by sitting on a block or a book) and place the sole of your feet together, let your knees fall out to the side. Try to relax your hips here and let gravity do the work rather than forcing your knees close to the ground.

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Followed by Gomukhanasana – Cow face pose

Start sitting cross-legged on the floor and then pull which ever foot is closer to you to the outside of the other hip, so if your left leg is closer when you are sitting cross-legged, bring your left foot to the outside of your right hip. Then try to place your right knee right on top of your left with your right foot placed to the outside of your left hip. Then do the other side.

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These two poses stretch the inside and the outside of you hips and can comfortably be done in front of the TV.

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