Your movement is killing your back

“But I just bent over to tie my shoe! Am I really that out of shape?”

Stories similar to this one happen every day.  You do something you have done thousands of times before with no pain, except this time you end up on the ground writhing in pain.

How does this happen?

The answer lies in the lack of attention people place on quality of movement.  Thousands of people are storming the gyms today.  They are lifting free weights, pushing machines, stretching and running.  While all of these activities are good, they won’t necessarily lead to an injury free lifestyle.  In fact, several times these activities are the ones that lead to injury.  The reason is because of dysfunctional movement patterns. If we don’t move correctly, then loading on 100 pounds of weight on top is not going to help.

While it does take an expert trained in body movement to pick up many movement dysfunctions, there are several easy tips everyone can use to correct their movement dysfunction.

Today we will look at one major movement dysfunction as it relates to back injuries.

Dysfunctional Hip Movement

While there are several movements which may be dysfunctional in the hip, today we will focus on hip flexion, or bending the hip towards your chest.  How does this relate to back issues?  If you don’t move well at your hip you are going to be overworking your low back.  You need 120 degrees of hip flexion range of motion to tie your shoes in the morning.  If you don’t have that much mobility, you are going to be bending at your back.  You need around 115 degrees just to sit down.

So how do you test this? 

The best way is to have your physical therapist measure for you, however here is a quick check you can do on your own.

  1. Lie on your back on a firm surface
  2. Keep one leg flat on the ground with the knee straight
  3. Pull your other knee to your chest without letting your low back arch off the ground
  4. You should be able to almost have your knee reach your chest (within 10 inches or so)
  5. If you have any pinching type pain in the front of your hip, you might have a joint restriction in your hip.  If you feel stretching restrictions in your butt, you probably have muscular tightness.  The muscular tightness is easier to resolve than the joint restriction.
  6. If you have a muscular restriction, I’ve put together a few simple exercises you can do to help with this.  To access these exercises, go to my website and enter the code MTP5675  in the Exercise Program Log In Box on the right side of the front page.

On the next post, we are going to look at another source of restriction to hip mobility- your hamstrings.

Did you clear the test?  Tell me how you did.

As with anything I post on this blog, if you have pain or a current injury, you should get it evaluated by the proper medical professional.  This is not intended to diagnose, or treat any injury.  The purpose of these posts is for injury prevention only.

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