A woman stretching out on her yoga mat at home

The Surprising Ways Tight Hips Can Ruin Your Posture and Cause Back Pain


Written by fitness expert Chris. Last updated:

The hip flexors consist of a group of muscles which have a significant impact on our daily movements and play an essential role in in our functional tasks. The hip flexors connect the lower body. Specifically, they are a group of five muscles that connect the femur to the pelvis and move in over of two ways. Maintaining a seated position for a long period of time tends to cause tight hip flexors. When you keep your hip flexors in a flexed position for long periods of time during the day, this will lead to loss of their flexibility. Tight hip flexors can lead to a number of physical deficits you may not realize.  In fact, tight hips may be ruining your posture and causing back pain.  Many people who present with poor posture often associate more of their upper body to be contributing to the way they slouch. However, poor posture actually stems from your lower body and can be linked to tight hips.  Here are the surprising ways tight hips can ruin your posture:

Tight Hips contribute to back pain

An old man having problems with his back and hips in the gym

If you have tight hip flexors, it is most likely you have experienced a postural deviation known as anterior pelvic tilt.  This is when your hips are pushed forward and your back stiffens.  Anterior pelvic tilt shortens your hip flexor muscles, therefore, causing tight hips. Tight hip flexors can cause you to slouch or hunch over at your desk.  To understand this better, know that the muscle groups of your hip flexors and glutes are pertinent in activating power in your lower body.  If these muscles are not working to their maximum potential then the muscles in your lower back will need to fire up for support.  All of this extra force may cause back pain which will in turn negatively affect your posture.  When all of these muscles are compromised, it is difficult to maintain good posture.

Poor circulation in your lower body

Tight hips caused by prolonged sitting may decrease circulation in your legs.  This potentially has the effect of weakening the bones in your hips and legs, once again leading to poor posture. If you sit for a prolonged period of time and do not practice proper ergonomics, chances are your posture will not get better.  Anterior pelvic tilt leads to decreased muscle strength in your core all the way down towards your feet. When the muscles in your hip flexors shorten, they become weaker and in turn prevent blood flow to your lower extremity.  This may have a negative impact on your ability to reach down to down your socks or in more extreme cases, walking.

Tight Hip Prevention

A woman having physio on her tight hips

To prevent tight hip flexors, incorporate a combination of stretching, strengthening, and practicing good body mechanics on a daily basis.  Standing pelvic tilt is also crucial to add.  Try standing up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.  Next, tilt your pelvic bone forward while keeping the rest of your body in alignment.  Hold for a few seconds before relaxing and then repeat.  Standing pelvic tilt will help open up your hips and work your lower back and glutes.

Yoga and pilates stretches are great ways to position your body in optimal hip opening positions. Some yoga poses to try include half pigeon, crescent lunge, happy baby, and hero pose.

Hip strengthening exercises to try include lunges, skater squats, and straight leg raises.

Practice good body mechanics and ergonomics while seated at your desk by following these principles:

  •       Keep your back straight, maintain natural alignment of your spine
  •       Distribute your weight evenly on both hips
  •       Keep your head and neck aligned over your shoulders
  •       Sit back in your chair; your back should be supported by the seat back
  •       Adjust your chair height so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees
  •       Be sure your feet are supported by the floor or a footrest
  •       Avoid sitting for long periods of time; get up from your chair at least once every hour
  •       Do not twist or bend your back from a seated position

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