Are Your Hips Killing Your Back?
Are you like many people, with an aching back at the end of the day or worried about lifting an object due to your back going out? You are not alone, over 80% of the population will suffer back pain at one time or another in their life according to CDC data. It is the price we pay for walking upright on two legs. However, the majority of back pain is non-specific, meaning that there is not a primary cause, such as a fracture or disc protrusion. In fact, the mobility and strength of your hip joints is often a major player in the causes of back pain.
As physical therapists, we know that a high percentage of people suffering with back pain actually have 3 common problems or a combination of them all:
- Poor posture
- Weak core and gluteus muscles
- Poor hip flexibility
How hip ligaments hurt your back
Your hip joints have to travel through a very large range of motion. There are thick Y shaped ligaments that surround the hip joints called the iliofemoral ligaments, which provide support. However, with prolonged sitting over weeks, months or years, these ligaments shrink, reducing the natural movement of the hip joints.
Whenever you walk, instead of your hips moving naturally, the ligaments yank and pull on the pelvis, which is attached to your spine. This causes inflammation, strain and pain to the back muscles. Furthermore, the loss of hip motion can even cause your pelvis to tilt, altering the posture of your spine and increasing strain. By improving hip mobility, back pain can typically be relieved quite quickly.
When you suffer from back pain, make sure that you have an expert physical therapist look at your movement. Even though your back may ache, it may not be the source of your problem. Call us today to discover how our SPINE Program can pinpoint the cause of your pain, relieve it quickly and teach you how to maintain a healthy spine.
Two simple tests to see if your hips are causing your back pain
You can easily check your hip motion by doing the following tests. If you discover your hip motion is limited, or you feel pain or strong discomfort, it’s time to get your hips checked by our physical therapy professionals. Try these tests and see how mobile your hips are:
Hip Mobility Test
- Lie on your back with your legs straight out.
- Cross one ankle above the other knee cross-legged in a figure 4 position.
- Keep your ankle pressed on the other leg, but now lower the raised knee to the side. Does it lower close to the ground?
- Repeat on the other side and see if there is a difference.
- If so, this might indicate a hip motion problem and cause pain in the back on that side or even the opposite side.
Hip Squatting Test
- Stand next to a counter for balance and gently hold on.
- Keep your knees parallel facing forward.
- Squat down as far as you can keeping your feet and heels flat on the floor.
- If you feel a lot of pressure in your knees or calf muscles, you could have a hip movement problem.
- Try again in front of a mirror. Does your body want to go to one side? This can indicate a hip motion problem on one side.