How to Stretch the Hip and Lower Back

How to Safely Stretch the Hip and Back Muscles

Hip and Lower Back Stretch
Hip and Lower Back Stretch. Photo © Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

There are many different exercises used to stretch the hip flexors, and the psoas muscles (pronounced "so-as") that connect directly to the lumbar vertebrae where lower back pain occurs. When the psoas muscle is tight, it compresses the vertebrae and the discs of the spine, which can aggravate lower back issues and cause pain.

In this photo, Chicago Bears cornerback Devin Hester demonstrates a simple way to open the hips and stretch the muscles of the hips, groin and lower back.

Those who sit at a desk for long periods are prone to hip and lower back pain. The sitting position causes one muscle group to shorten, while the opposing group to lengthen to compensate. Extended periods in that position causes these muscles to become underactive, while the other becomes overactive. This is where muscle imbalance can develop.

Stretching to Counter Muscle Imbalance

Getting up to move and stretch regularly will help with this. Stretching has been shown to help lower back pain when performed safely. Tight hip flexors and hamstrings have been show to contribute significantly to lower back pain, and stretching them helps with this.

Many of us have tight hamstrings and hip flexors because of our sedentary lifestyles—and this isn't limited to couch potatoes! As mentioned, sitting at a desk for long periods leads to tight muscles, so stretching the hamstrings and the hip flexors.

The practice of yoga has many stretches that can work in the hip and lower back to reduce pain.

The stretch described here is a simple one you can do with relative ease in most any setting.

How to Do the Hip and Lower Back Stretch

  • Begin in a forward lunge position with your right leg forward. Drop your left knee to the ground.
  • Place your right elbow on the inside of your right knee as pictured.
  • Press your right elbow gently into your right knee and twist your torso to the left.
  • Reach your left arm behind you until you feel a gentle stretch in your lower back and right groin.
  • Hold the stretch for about 20-30 seconds, release and repeat on the other leg.

You can modify this stretch based upon your own anatomy, flexibility and limitations. Be sure to keep your forward knee over or behind your ankle; don't let your knee extend in front of your ankle as this stresses the knee.

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