Hip and lower back pain are extremely common nowadays. Considering that most of us spend hours every day sitting in one spot, it’s no wonder our lower body suffers the brunt of it. Luckily, there’s a way you can relieve these aches, and it involves simple stretching exercises. This article will provide you with ten easy stretching and strengthening exercises that will alleviate any lower back and hip pain. As a bonus, they might even help you get fitter.
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What Causes Hip and Lower Back Pain?
When we sit around for long periods, our muscles lose their strength, so our spine doesn’t get the proper support it needs. Most of our core muscles are connected to the lower back in some way, especially the obliques. So, unless we exercise regularly, our muscles will become tight and cause pain.
And the sooner we start, the better — right now, over 30 million people worldwide aged 20–64 have lower back pain issues. That’s an alarming number that won’t go down if current trends continue.
Living a sedentary life doesn’t just affect our lower back. It also hurts our hamstrings, shoulders, hip flexors, abdominals, glutes, and psoas.
Some Pre-Exercise Notes
Before you start exercising, do some light cardio as a warm-up. A brisk 15-minute walk will do the trick. Also, if you happen to feel any pain that prevents you from stretching, take a break first. Put some ice on your hips and back until you feel better, then proceed with the exercises below.
The 5 Essential Strengthening Exercises
This list contains core-building exercises that don’t exactly fall under “stretching.” However, they are quite important since they help build up your muscle mass. Once you’ve bulked up, your muscles can help support your body’s weight, taking some pressure off of your joints.
Each of the following exercises is designed to strengthen your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, as well as your lower back. You should start with 3–4 of these exercises and complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees slightly. Take two dumbbells and hold one in each hand, with your palms facing you. Your arms have to be straight throughout this exercise.
- Next, with your back straight, bend slowly forward toward your hips. You should feel a stretch in the back of your thighs. The dumbbells you’re holding ought to be in front of your legs.
- From the position described above, start lifting your chest and squeezing the muscles of your lower back, buttocks, and thighs. Stand up straight against the pull of the dumbbells in your hands. Repeat this exercise ten times.
Deadlifts are perfect for strengthening the hamstrings and lower-back muscles.
- Get on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Your wrists ought to be under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Next, extend your left leg back and your right arm forward. Your back should be straight, and your hips must align with the floor at all times. If it helps, imagine “pushing” your left foot toward the wall behind you.
- Squeeze your abs firmly, then return both your arm and leg in the starting position.
- Repeat the same movement with your other arm and leg. Each set should last about 30 seconds.
Bird dogs engage all of the core musculatures. Also, they are perfect for developing balance and stability.
- Spread your feet, making sure they’re a little over shoulder-width apart. With the dumbbells in your hands, bend your elbows and rest the weights on your shoulders.
- The next move is similar to taking a seat in a chair. Bend both knees and push your buttocks backward. Your knees must not bend beyond your toes.
- Try sitting down, as low as you can, then stand back up. Do a series of 10 reps of this exercise.
Weighted squats help stabilize your spine and work your lower back muscles.
Tabletop Leg Press
- Lie on the ground face-up. Lift your legs and bend both knees in a 90-degree angle above your hips.
- Contract your abdomen; this will press your lower back into the ground. Crunch up a few inches, then put your hands in front of your quads.
- At the same time, drive your quads into your hands AND push them away slowly. If you feel strong tension, you’re doing it right.
- Hold this position for as long as you can.
We use tabletop leg presses to build up our body’s strength and stability.
- Lie on your right side, and press your right hand into the ground. Push up until your elbow is in the right position. Your upper body ought to be in the air, and your left hand underneath your left shoulder. Make sure that your legs are stacked up on top of each other.
- Lift your hips above the ground. This action should let you line up your legs, back, and neck. Maintain this position for up to 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat it two more times; switch sides, and do it again.
- For some extra exercise, lift your upper leg towards the ceiling while you’re in the side plank position.
Side planks are difficult to pull off, but they do an amazing job of strengthening both your hips and your lower back.
The 5 Essential Stretching Exercises
The stretching exercises in the list below are not as demanding as the strengthening exercises. However, they will help alleviate the pain in your lower back and hips if you perform them regularly. Try to do at least 30 minutes of stretching per exercise before moving on to the next one.
- Stand with your feet wide apart and your heels in; your toes should point out at an angle of 45 degrees.
- Squat low and place your hands on your inner thighs. This motion is similar to trying to sit in a chair.
- With your hands still on your inner thighs, slowly press your legs open, and hold for at least 30 seconds. You should be able to sense a stretch through your groin and your inner legs.
This exercise is also known as a hip opener. Its purpose is to open up the hip flexors and adductor muscles.
- First, get on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Next, put your right foot in front of your right hand, like a runner preparing to sprint. Your ankle should be slightly in front of your knee. Make sure to keep that left knee down.
- Press both of your hips forward until you feel a stretching sensation in the front of your body. Remember to keep your hands firmly on the ground.
- Hold this position for at least 30 seconds, and after that, switch sides.
The runner’s lunge is a great exercise for the quadriceps, hip flexors, and abs.
- Sit down, with your feet firmly on the mat and your knees bent. Your left heel should go towards your right sit bone. Then try crossing your right leg over your left one; your right foot should be “outside” your left knee.
- Sit up tall, with your fingers tented up behind you. Take a deep breath and straighten your spine as you inhale. When you exhale, twist to the right and wrap your left arm around the front side of your right shin.
- Make sure to keep your neck straight. You can either look straight ahead or over your right shoulder. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds; when you inhale again, untwist your body and switch sides.
While it might look complicated, the seated twist is an excellent exercise for relaxing the glutes, the lower back, and the piriformis.
- First, lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the ground. They should be roughly hip-width apart.
- Next, bend your right knee and put your right ankle above your left knee, on your thigh. Loop your right hand through the space between your legs. Interlace your hands behind your left thigh.
- Draw your left thigh toward yourself. Make sure that both your head and shoulders are on the ground. You should feel a stretching sensation through your outer right hip. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then switch sides.
The supine figure covers the same muscle groups as the seated twist. It also greatly helps reduce hip pain.
- With your hands and knees in the tabletop position, spread your knees apart and bring your big toes together.
- Sit with your hips on your heels. Next, start stretching your arms forward on the ground. Do that until your forehead touches the floor.
- Once it does, keep stretching until your arms are straight. Relax both of them on the ground and stay in that position for at least 30 seconds. Make sure your shoulders are pushed down away from your ears.
Out of all the stretches, the child’s pose is the best exercise for your back.
The exercises listed in this article will greatly help you reduce hip and lower back pain in a matter of weeks. They will also build up your muscle mass and improve your balance. However, if the pain persists, make sure to see your doctor as soon as possible.