Would you have ever associated tight hips with back pain? It’s a much closer connection than you’d think. Once you understand this, it can really help you support your body in the way it needs you to.
Firstly, it’s key that you know that the hip, and how it is flexed, is operated by the hip flexor. These hip flexors consist of a group of five muscles which have a significant impact on our daily movements and play an essential role in our functional tasks.
They are located in your pelvic area, at the top-front of your thigh. and every time you take a step, this hip flexor is at work. Leaving the hip flexors dormant – for example, sitting at your desk for a long period of time – makes them tight, shortens them, and reduces their flexibility.
In fact, tight hip flexors can lead to a number of physical deficits you may not realize, such as 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
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 compensate, 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.
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 and may even worsen.
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 movement ability such as reaching down to your feet and the floor or, in more extreme cases, walking.
Tight Hip Prevention
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 – it will help open up your hips and work your lower back and glutes.
- Stand 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.
Yoga and Pilates stretches (half pigeon, crescent lunge, happy baby, and hero pose) are great ways to position your body in optimal hip opening positions. For general exercises for hip strengthening, work on lunges, skater squats, and straight leg raises.
Finally, be mindful of your posture in everyday life. Practice good body mechanics and ergonomics while seated at your desk by following these principles:
- Keep your back straight, maintaining 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
Hopefully by now you’ll understand what a difference your hip happiness can make to your posture in back health. So work on those hip flexors, keep them moving and strengthened, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a well-circulated and supported posture and lower back.