If you’re experiencing back pain, it could be a sign of tight hips. Add this five-minute yoga hip stretch into your daily routine to help relieve the pain.
Back pain is pretty common these days. Prolonged sitting and repetitive activities like jogging and cycling are all risk factors for hurting your back. Fortunately, by adding a daily stretching routine to relieve tightness in the hips, you can undo some of the damage to your back.
Here’s why stretching your hips will help with back pain: Imagine your legs in a seated position. Your knees are bent, leaving the hip joint rotated outwards. This leads to a cascade of problems in your lower back.
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The hip flexors, hamstrings, and glutes all play a role here, and can contribute to pain when they’re out of balance.
Let’s start with one of the hip flexors: the rectus femoris, which bends the leg at the hip joint. When in constant flexion or overuse from sitting or exercising, the rectus femoris becomes tight, which pulls the pelvis and spine out of alignment. (1)
The hamstrings are made up of three muscles that bend the knee. When the knee is in constant flexion, those hamstring muscles become tighter. (2) That’s why it feels harder to extend your legs after sitting for a long period of time!
Last but not least the glutes, especially the piriformis, cause pressure in the back when you’re slouched in a chair all day. The piriformis runs from your sit bones to your thighs. A tight piriformis causes the entire leg to be out of balance in the hip socket, which ultimately puts pressure on the lower back. (3)
While it’s easy to let these important muscles get tight, it’s just as easy to start a stretching routine that targets all those achy spots. Anytime you’ve been sitting for more than an hour, or after a long jog or bike ride, follow this quick and easy yoga stretching routine. The best part is, you’ll be done in under 10 minutes!
Kneeling Lunge | 20 sec per side
This lunge variation stretches the groin and the hip flexors. You can use a blanket to cushion the knee.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width distance apart.
- Take a big step forward with your right foot. Lower your back knee to the ground and bring your hands down to rest on the blocks. If you need a deeper stretch, remove the blocks and place your hands on the ground.
- Gently press the hips forward and down towards the ground as you breathe here for 20 seconds.
- Switch to the other side.
Half Split | 20 sec per side
Use blocks here to control how deep you need to get into this pose. You’ll feel a satisfying stretch in the hamstrings and calves.
- Continue in your low lunge position.
- Straighten out your front leg by setting your heel on the ground, sending your hips over your back knee or foot. Flex the front foot and straighten your leg as much as you can. Rest your hands on blocks at whatever setting feels best.
- Stay here for 20 seconds, or if you want to go deeper, you can bow over your front leg.
- Switch legs.
Standing Thigh Stretch | 20 sec per side
Use this simple stretch anytime your thigh muscles need a break.
- Start standing near a wall, with your feet hip-width distance apart. Place your hands on your hips.
- Bend your right leg and grab for the top of the foot or ankle with your right hand. Keep your knees lined up, your back long, and your abs engaged. If you need help balancing, rest your other hand on the wall.
- Hold for 20 seconds, then switch sides.
Wide-legged Forward Fold | 20 sec
Stretch your hamstrings, inner thighs, and groin all at the same time.
- Widen your stance. Set the blocks on the ground underneath your shoulders.
- Inhale to stand up straight, then exhale to fold forward. Rest your hands on the blocks, or on the ground if you can. Let your head hang heavy to release tension in the neck.
- Stay here for at least 20 seconds, then slowly bend your knees and lengthen your back to come back to standing.
Standing Figure Four | 20 sec per side
This variation of a classic glute stretch is a great way to focus on one side at a time. Use the blocks for support.
- Set your blocks on the highest level on the ground in front of you. Stand in front of them with your knees bent.
- Cross your right ankle over your left thigh and flex your right foot.
- Lift your right hip diagonally up towards the ceiling. Keep lifting the hip as you bow forward, placing your hands onto the blocks in front of you.
- Hold for 20 seconds.
Tip: If bending all the way down isn’t accessible, hold onto the back of a chair or place your hands on a wall for more support.
Butterfly Pose | 20 sec
This seated pose stretches the hips and groin. Go slowly, and don’t force the stretch!
- Come to a seated position with your legs out long out in front of you.
- Place the soles of your feet together, letting your knees drop out wide. Bring your heels as close to your body as you comfortably can.
- Rest your hands on your ankles. Inhale to elongate the spine and exhale to hinge forward at the hips. Keep the back long to avoid rounding.
- Hold here for 20 seconds. On each inhale, try to elongate the spine even more. On each exhale, focus on softening the hips and groin.
Tip: If it’s difficult to sit up straight here, elevate your hips by sitting on a rolled blanket or a block.
Constructive Rest Position | 1 minute hold
This is a safe and comfortable position to help relieve lower back pain with little effort.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the ground about 12 inches away from your buttocks.
- Walk your feet a couple of inches out wider than hip-width distance, letting your knees meet together.
- Rest your arms alongside your body, palms facing up. Close your eyes and relax here for at least one minute.
Believe it or not, you CAN
eliminate chronic back pain in
just 10 minutes a day, without
any surgeries, painful exercises,
Believe it or not, you CAN
eliminate chronic back
pain in just 10 minutes a
day, without any surgeries,
painful exercises, or pills.