Are Your Hips Killing Your Back?


Are you like most people? Does your back ache at the end of the day? Are you worried about lifting heavy objects? You are not alone. Over 80% of the population suffers with back pain at one time or another in their life, according to CDC data. It is the price we pay for walking upright on two legs. However, the majority of back pain is non-specific, meaning there is not a primary cause, such as a fracture or disc protrusion. In fact, the mobility and strength of your hip joints is often a major player in the causes of back pain.


As physical therapists, we know that a high percentage of people suffering with back pain actually have three common problems or a combination of all three:


  1. Poor posture
  2. Weak core and/or gluteus muscles
  3. Poor hip flexibility


How hip ligaments hurt your back

Your hip joints have to travel through a very large range of motion. There are thick Y shaped ligaments that surround the hip joints called the iliofemoral ligaments, which provide support. However, due to prolonged sitting, these ligaments shrink, reducing the natural movement of the hip joints.


Whenever you walk, instead of your hips moving naturally, your ligaments yank and pull on your pelvis, which is attached to your spine. This causes inflammation, strain and pain to your back muscles. Furthermore, the loss of hip motion can even cause your pelvis to tilt, altering the posture of your spine and increasing strain. Back pain can typically be relieved quite quickly, by improving hip mobility.


It is important to have a physical therapist look at your movement if you suffer from back pain. Even though your back aches, it may not be the source of your problem. Call us today to discover how our spine program pinpoints the cause of your pain, relieves it quickly and teaches you how to maintain a healthy spine.


Two simple tests to see if your hips are causing your back pain:


You can easily check your hip motion by doing the following tests. If you discover your hip motion is limited, or you feel pain or strong discomfort, then it’s time to get your hips checked by one of our physical therapists. Try these tests and see how mobile your hips are:


The Hip Mobility Test:

  • Lie on your back with your legs straight out.
  • Cross one ankle above the other knee, so that you are cross-legged in a figure 4 position.
  • Keep your ankle pressed on the other leg, but now lower the raised knee to the side. Does it lower close to the ground?
  • Repeat on the other side and see if there is a difference.
  • If so, this might indicate a hip motion problem and cause pain in the back on that side or even the opposite side.


The Hip Squatting Test:

  • Stand next to a counter for balance and gently hold on.
  • Keep your knees parallel facing forward.
  • Squat down as far as you can keeping your feet and heels flat on the floor.
  • If you feel a lot of pressure in your knees or calf muscles, you could have a hip movement problem.
  • Try again in front of a mirror. Does your body want to go to one side? This can indicate a hip motion problem on one side.