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The relationship between dysfunctional hips and lower back pain

Lower back pain is extremely common. Odds are you have experienced it at some point in your life. It can be extremely frustrating because of how difficult it can be to resolve. The thing is, half the time you don’t really know what the underlying cause is, so you find yourself trying anything and everything without any success.

One thing (or two, if you count them both) worth looking at is your hips. Very often, hip dysfunction is the root cause of lower back pain. One reason for this is that many of the muscles that move the hip have an attachment to the lower back (lumbar spine). The psoas for example, goes from the femur (leg) all the way up to the L1-L5 vertebrae. That means every single lumbar vertebra has an attachment to the psoas muscle, which is one of the hip-flexors. That is one instance where “tight hips” equals lower back pain.

Other muscle like the gluteus maximus have indirect connections to the lower back. The gluteus maximus goes from the femur to the thoracolumbar fascia. The thoracolumbar fascia is one of the main structures in the lower back that creates rigidity during strenuous activity (this is usually referred to as an abdominal brace). With a dysfunctional gluteus maximus, the result is more often than not, lower back pain because of this connection.

There are numerous other indirect connections from the hips to the lower back via fascia. Many muscles attach from the femur and go up to regions on the pelvis which have other muscles connecting them to the lumbar vertebra or thoracolumbar fascia. The piriformis, obturator and coccygeal muscles are all pieces of these connections among numerous others.

The point is, if your lower back is causing you discomfort, address the hips and see if the lower back pain resolves. Start with some 90/90 progressions, blocked internal rotations of the hips, and hip airplanes.

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