As we continue with our discussion on the joint by joint approach which I covered in my previous blog post http://allthingsstrength.blogspot.com/2010/01/ankle-mobility-joint-by-joint-approach.html , we now move up from the ankle and begin to look at the hip.
It is very common that hip mobility is the underlying issue with most low back pain. As I pointed out also in my last blog post, if you begin to lack mobility at segments that need mobility (i.e hips), your body will compensate by getting a stable segment to start to pick up the slack (i.e low back).
The hip is a ball and socket joint, thus it is meant to have a lot of mobility. It is important that we use multiple exercises to increase our hip mobility as it moves in all 3 planes of motion, sagittal (flexion, and extension), frontal (adduction, and abduction), transverse (internal, and external rotational).
Hip internal rotation range of motion is usually a big issue with a lot males. This can be very problematic for some populations like golfers, hurlers, tennis players, baseball players, and just about any rotational sport athlete. If you lack that hip internal rotation, you are at a higher risk of developing back pain. This was shown in a study done by Murray et al (2009), and also by Van Dillen et al (2008).
The following video is an exercise I got from Eric Cressey to improve hip internal rotation. This exercise addresses soft tissue restrictions in the external hip rotators. I like to get my athletes to perform some soft tissue work (i.e. foam rolling, use of a tennis ball) first and then perform this exercise to try to increase length in the hip rotators.
Supine - Knee to Knee Stretch
The next three videos are a split squat series that I got from Mike Boyle. I like these three exercises as they address hip mobility in all three planes of movement.
These are some simple exercises that if done on a regular basis, will vastly improve hip mobility. Also add in some hip flexor stretches and glutes bridges (to turn on your glutes) to the mix and you will be doing a lot to improve the health and longevity of your hips and low back.
Hip Flexor Stretch
With this stretch get a reebok step, or something to elevate your front foot. Angle your body at a 45 degree angle to the step. From there cross your outside leg over the leg closest to the step. Have the arm that is on the same side as the knee on the ground overhead reaching for the ceiling. Rock yourself into the stretch and hold for two seconds, and rock back. Do anywhere from 8-12 reps, or static holds for 15-20secs.
The hip flexor is often a major player in low back pain, as it attaches up onto the lumbar spine. It is generally short, stiff, or toned with most people, due to a lot of sitting. So it is good to try and stretch it a few times on a daily basis.
The key with this exercise is to ensure the you use your hips to bring you hips off the ground, and not your back or hamstrings. If you start to cramp in your hamstrings this is your body trying to compensate, because you are not using your glutes. Drive your heels into the ground, and squeeze your glutes hard as you bring your hips toward the ceiling. Make sure to also brace your core (abs), to keep the lumber spine (low back) stable.
Give these a try.
Next up, improving our thoracic spine mobility.
The relationship between hip rotation range of movement and low back pain prevalence in amateur golfers: An observational studyPhysical Therapy in Sport, Volume 10, Issue 4, November 2009, Pages 131-135Eoghan Murray, Emma Birley, Richard Twycross-Lewis, Dylan Morrissey
Hip rotation range of motion in people with and without low back pain who participate in rotation-related sportsPhysical Therapy in Sport, Volume 9, Issue 2, May 2008, Pages 72-81Linda R. Van Dillen, Nancy J. Bloom, Sara P. Gombatto, Thomas M. Susco
Joint By Joint Approach to Training - Mike Boyle