Updated: Jun 21
Poor Conditioning and Lumbar Pain
The hip flexors are a very strong muscle group. If it is always tight, the compression is amplified along with pain. Stretching of these muscles are vital.
A chronic state of shortening can lead to an increased anterior pelvic tilt which is very harmful to the discs, especially within the L5-S1 region. A tight iliacus muscle (part of the iliopsoas) also corresponds to a tight psoas. The other hip flexor muscles mentioned above also influence the anterior pelvic tilt.
At the Workplace and at Home
Most people do not have any serious conditions other than symptoms of fatigue in the lower back after extended times of sitting. They can usually cope with this temporary discomfort and will recover quickly. However, daily activities which involve extended and prolonged periods of inactivity or even over activity will cause muscle imbalances and chronic lower back pain.
Many symptoms of lower back pain can begin with tight hip flexors or hamstring muscles. It is rare to find a person who does not have tightness in these muscles, especially the hamstrings group. When the hamstrings are too tight, they prevent the pelvis from tilting forward in a smooth manner, simultaneously with the back when bending forward to neutral. As a result, you will mistakenly bend at the back, rather than at the pelvis in order to compensate for the lack of flexibility.
Tight hamstrings are often very uncomfortable to stretch and we find ourselves trying to avoid it as much as possible. We tend to favor bending the back rather than tilting our hips because of the discomfort we feel from tight hamstrings.
The Hamstring Group
The three major hamstrings as seen below are the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus muscles. These muscle are very difficult to stretch and require sincere effort, time and patience to achieve long term results.
Tightness of a muscle is usually the result of lifestyle but can sometimes be a natural condition in an individual. The solution however, is always to lengthen the muscle with stretching.
How Lifestyle Worsens the Hamstring Group
Extended periods of sitting, as in the cases of driving, office work, sitting in front of the TV or even long periods of studying will cause tightness in the hip flexors and hamstrings. During these activities, the muscles are in their shortened positions, with blood circulation and nerve activity within the muscle also being compromised. This not only produces a tight and shortened muscle, but also contributes to overall weakness and decreased responsiveness in that muscle.
During upright and active periods, these tight and weak muscles are sometimes required to perform the job of stronger and more lengthened muscles. This is likened to using a stiff, old rubber band instead of a new, more elastic one. When these muscles are required to perform daily work in the upright position, they will do so, but with added strain on the lumbar spine and discs.
Poorly Conditioned Hamstrings Lead to Spinal and Muscular Issues
A lengthened and stronger muscle is able to extend and flex the legs with minimum effect on the normal curvature of the spine during activity. Short, tight and weak muscles will exhibit much more pull, tension and fatigue on the lumbar spine and pelvis as they are no longer as efficient at relaxing and lengthening at the times needed during exertion.
When hip flexors and hamstrings pull on the spine and pelvis with increased force and tension, the pressure on different sides on the discs increases dramatically and causes degeneration. This causes too much movement and compression on your spine and discs. They become progressively worn over time and may lead to disc and vertebral problems.
The Connection Between Healthy Hip Activity and Lumbar Safety
The fact that we must ‘keep our back straight and bend at the hips and knees’ is not really news at all to most, especially for back pain sufferers. What we must understand is that there is direct relationship and correlation with your lumbar spine and your hips that cannot be overemphasized. The more that you use your hips and legs, the less work your spine must perform.
Remember this One Simple Rule to Use Your Hips More and Reduce Lumbar Pain
It is through the combined action of maintaining strong and supportive back and abdominal muscles to control neutral posture (that ensure minimal bend in the lumbar spine) together with the hip flexors and hamstrings that lower back pain is reduced or minimized.
Getting the Right Help for Hip Flexor and Hamstring Pain
In order to reduce the discomfort of lower back pain, your hip flexors and hamstrings should be exercised in many different ways. This requires several different positions, stretches and movements. It is usually insufficient to perform common, standard stretch and strengthening methods since they don’t necessarily target ALL of the muscles of concern. The Actify Physiotherapy Method teaches specific lower back exercises that specifically target the hip flexors and hamstrings among other muscles groups involved. The exercises help the muscles and joints to move in a multitude of directions and positions. These methods teach you how to SAFELY stretch your hip flexor and hamstrings muscle without risk to your spine.
You can learn better methods to safe hamstring stretching than the common “toe touching” method that is deemed directly harmful to your discs.
For more information or for an appointment feel free to contact us at 561-366-2435.