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Are Your Hips Affecting Your Back?

Believe it or not, your hips play a large role in the health of your back and limited hip mobility can cause back pain.  Do you have an aching back at the end of the day and wonder where the source of your pain is coming from? You are not alone! More than 80 percent of the population will suffer from back pain at least once in their life, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. It is the price we pay for walking upright on two legs. However, the majority of back pain is non-specific, meaning that there is not a primary cause, such as a fracture or disc protrusion. In fact, the mobility and strength of your hip joints is often a major player in the cause of back pain.

If you are experiencing back pain, you probably have one of these three common problems or a combination of them all:

  1. Poor posture
  2. Weak core and gluteus muscles
  3. Poor hip flexibility

How Hip Ligaments Hurt Your Back
Your hip joints have to travel through a very large range of motion. There are thick Y-shaped ligaments that surround the hip joints and provide support. However, with prolonged sitting over weeks, months or years, these ligaments tighten, reducing the natural movement of the hip joints.

Whenever you walk, instead of your hips moving naturally, the tightened ligaments pull on your pelvis, which attaches to your spine. This causes inflammation, strain and pain to the muscles in your back. Furthermore, the loss of hip motion can even cause your pelvis to tilt, altering the posture of your spine and increasing strain. Improving hip mobility can relieve back pain rather quickly.

Two Simple Tests to See If Your Hips are Could be Causing Your Back Pain
You can easily check your hip motion by performing the following tests. If you discover your hip motion is limited, or you feel pain or strong discomfort, it’s time to get your hips checked by our physical therapy professionals. Try these tests and see how mobile your hips are:

Hip Mobility Test

  • Lie on your back with your legs straight out.
  • Cross one ankle above the other knee, cross-legged in a figure 4 position.
  • Keep your ankle pressed on the other leg, but now lower the raised knee to the side. Does it lower close to the ground?
  • Repeat on the other side and see if there is a difference.
  • If so, this might indicate limited hip mobility, which can cause back pain across your pain, on one side or on the opposite side.

Hip Squatting Test

  • Stand next to a counter for balance and gently hold on.
  • Keep your knees parallel facing forward.
  • Squat down as far as you can, keeping your feet and heels flat on the floor.
  • If you feel a lot of pressure in your knees or calf muscles, you could have a hip mobility problem.
  • Try again in front of a mirror. Does your body tend to lean to one side? This may indicate limited hip mobility on one side.

If you are suffering from back pain or have limited hip mobility, call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center at 703-450-4300 to schedule an evaluation and work with our expert physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to get you moving pain-free again.

CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.

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