If you are suffering from lower back or hip pain, you are not alone. More than 26 million Americans, between the ages of 20 and 64, experience back pain (1) and, very often, lower back and hip pain are related.
Our deepest hip flexor, the Psoas, is directly connected to our lumbar spine. So if our hip flexors get tight, they will begin to tug uncomfortably at the lower spine, thus causing stiffness and achiness in the lower back and uncomfortable hip pain.
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Fortunately, regularly stretching can help reverse some of this tightness. Here are 9 easy stretches that can be done just about anywhere to relieve lower back and hip pain.
Child’s Pose | Hold 30 sec
This basic yoga pose stretches the entire back and helps to open up the hips by stretching the glutes.
- Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Bring your big toes together and take your knees out wide.
- Sit your hips back on your heels, and walk your hands forward until you can lower your forehead to the ground.
- Once your forehead is on the ground, continue walking your hands out in front of you until your arms are straight. Then, let your arms relax on the ground. Try to keep your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for 30 seconds.
Supine Figure 4 | Hold 30 sec per side
This stretch reduces hip pain and releases the lower back by stretching the glutes, piriformis, and the lower back.
- Begin by lying down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground, hips- width distance apart.
- Bend your right knee and place your right ankle above your left knee on the thigh. Loop your right hand through your legs and interlace your hands behind your left thigh.
- Keep your head and shoulders on the ground as your draw the left thigh towards you. Feel the stretch through your outer right hip. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Figure 4 Twist | Hold 30 sec per side
This stretches the lower back and helps to increase external hip rotation to reduce hip pain.
- Start by lying down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground, hips- width distance apart.
- Bend your right knee and place your right ankle above your left knee on the thigh. Cactus your arms by your head and flex your feet.
- Allow your knees to gently fall to the right, keeping the right ankle over the left thigh, to bring your body into a twist. Keep your feet flexed as you feel the stretch through your left hip. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Runner’s Lunge | Hold 30 sec per side
This stretches the hip flexors, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles.
- Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Step your right foot outside of your right hand. Heel-toe the foot forward and out a couple of inches so that your right ankle is slightly in front of your right knee. Keep your left knee down.
- Keeping your hands planted inside of your right foot, press your hips forward to feel a stretch through the front of your hips.
- Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Adductor Opener | Hold 30 sec
This stretch opens up the adductor muscles and the hip flexors.
- Begin standing with your feet out wide, heels in, and toes pointing out at 45 degree angles.
- Squat low like you are going to sit into a chair and then place your hands on your inner thighs.
- Press your thighs open to feel a stretch through the inner thighs and groin. Hold for 30 seconds.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold | Hold 30 sec
This stretches the glutes, lower back, upper back, and hamstrings.
- Start standing with your feet out wide and your toes pointing straight ahead.
- Bend into your knees as you fold your chest over your legs and bring your hands to the ground.
- Keep the generous bend in your knees, and let your head hang heavy. Let the weight shift slightly towards your toes. Feel the glutes, lower back, and hamstrings release. Hold for 30 seconds and then slowly stand by rolling up one vertebrae at a time.
Cow Face Legs | Hold 30 sec
This stretches the outer hips and the lower back.
- Starting in a seated position, place your bent right knee on top of your bent left knee. Try to have your knees perfectly stacked, one on top of the other, and to have your feet flexed to protect your knees. Both of your sit bones should be pressing into the ground. If this is not possible, then prop your hips up onto a blanket or pillow to allow equal and even weight on both sit bones.
- Sit up nice and tall, and take some deep breaths into your hips. If you feel like you want to go a little deeper, you can walk your hands out in front of you, making sure to keep your sit bones pressing down.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
Seated Twist | Hold 30 sec per side
This stretch releases the lower back, glutes, and piriformis.
- Start seated with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Draw your left heel in towards your right sit bone. Cross your right leg over your left to bring your right foot outside of your left thigh. If this feels too intense, prop your hips up on a blanket or pillow.
- Tent your fingertips behind you and sit up tall. Take a deep breath as you lengthen through your spine, then exhale to twist to the right, wrapping your left arm around the front of your right shin.
- Keep your neck long and gaze straight ahead or over your right shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and then slowly untwist on an inhale. Switch sides.
Happy Baby | Hold 30 sec
This stretch opens up the lower back and stretches the hip flexors.
- Begin by lying down on your back.
- Bend your knees and draw them up towards your chest. Bring your arms inside of your thighs and reach for the outside edges of your feet or ankles. Make sure that your lower back stays pressing into the floor. If you need to, hold on closer to your knees, so that you keep the lower back on the floor.
- Take some gentle rocks side to side to massage the lower back. Hold for 30 seconds.
(Your Next Workout: 7 Easy Exercises for Mild to Severe Lower Back Pain)