A common complaint among my clients is tightness through one or both hips; many times, coupled with lower back pain. In my experience, the lack of mobility through the hip joints is the typical cause of the low back pain, and less commonly other way around.
How does this work? Many muscles of the low back share attachment points with many muscles in the hips, so the pull from a tight muscle in one area will effectively cause a shift in the bony attachment, straining the muscles in a neighboring area. It may be helpful to think of this as a tug-of-war, and keeping everyone peaceful and relaxed is the best way to prevent the ‘pull’ of imbalance that causes pain in the body.
I like to describe the way we create tightness in our hips as “using our hips like a hinge joint.” Think about it- our hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint, capable of moving in many directions, fluidly. Most of our daily actions, however, treat this joint as though it has the options of our elbows: forward and back, back and forth. Sitting, driving, climbing stairs, walking, and even running: forward and back, back and forth. While we aren’t quite as robotic as I’m making this sound, for a lot of us, it’s close.
What is the key to break the hip-as-a-hinge-joint cycle? It’s incorporating internal and external rotation of the hip in our day. This will strengthen underused muscles, stretch overworked muscles, increase circulation for optimal nutrition to your joints, and help maintain your range of motion. Bonus: decrease or relieve your low back pain over time, as well.
I asked local yoga teacher Samantha Harrison of YogiVibes studio to give us some simple ways to start working our hips in internal and external rotation, and I’m excited that she agreed to help us out! Check out her video below:
Samantha teaches alignment-based vinyasa yoga with an emphasis on finding the middle path during practice and in life. She teaches on average 18 classes a week that vary between corporate yoga, private yoga and group classes at YogiVibes. She has been practicing yoga since 2008 and teaching full-time since 2014. She is an E-RYT 200 and RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance after receiving her initial training at Wilmington Yoga Center and then her 500-hour training with Cyndi Lee. At the heart of her classes are community and playfulness. Her students get to know each other, build relationships and have fun while moving, sweating and breathing together. Visit http://www.yogivibesstudio.com/ for info on group classes and workshops, or her personal page at http://www.samanthaharrisonyoga.com/ to learn more about her and inquire about private sessions.
Haley Sullivan, NCLMT #12309