Assess lower back pain with hip flexor stretches.

When you consider that muscles that cross from the torso to the legs can act like a pulley system on the lower back, it makes sense that when they get tight, pain can develop. This article explores the hip flexors and their relation to lower back tension. In another article we will explore the hip extensors. If stretching a muscle provides pain relief, a clue to the source of discomfort is revealed. Here is a strategy to assess lower back pain with a few simple stretches.

Hip flexor constriction is a common with lower back tension. The hip flexors comprise of three muscles that cross the front of the legs and hips. When activated they bring the legs up to the chest. In certain circumstances, they work with the abdominals to fold the torso forward.

The roman chair exercise in the picture to the right is a classic example of hip flexor activation.

The primary hip flexors are the iliopsoas and the quadratus femoris, and the photos below show their location.

The iliopsoas is actually a combination of two – the psoas and iliacus. They are the photos on the right. Please take notice of how they integrate both with the lower back and the legs.  When this muscle group gets tight, lower back pain can develop.

These photos on the right side show another hip flexor. It is called the rectus femoris, and it is the only quadricep muscle group that crosses the hip bone. Imagine that if it were a string that you could pull on what action it would have on the body. Can you see now how it acts in folding the body forward and lifting the legs toward the chest? When it gets shortened, this muscle will tilt the pelvis forward and create a “sway” in the lower back.

Hip flexors and “sway back” or lordosis

When the hip flexors  become tight enough to pull the body into a sway back posture, it has a negative effect on posture, and lower back tension develops.

This illustration below shows a sway back posture, otherwise known as lordosis.

What can be done to get some relief?

If hip flexor constriction is the underlying cause of back pain, stretching them will provide instant relief. So, try a self assessment. Stretch this muscle group, and see if doing so provides relief. If it does, keep doing them!

Here are three stretches in successive order of capabilities that will release constricted hip flexors over time.

This is a great illustration of how to assess lower back pain with a few simple stretches. If there is improvement, that is good news. There is a strong likelihood that correcting postural imbalances will reduce or reverse lower back tension.

This is not meant to replace a visit to your doctor, and it is always a good idea to consult with a qualified medical professional when lower back pain develops.

On a final note, therapeutic massage is a powerful partner in restoring proper posture, so scheduling a few sessions will ensure the quickest results possible.

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