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stretching woman's hip and thighs

Hip and Back Pains? Your Body Badly Needs These Stretches!

For today’s article, "Hips and Backs NEED these TWO Stretches to Resolve Hip and Back Pains", we talk about all things hips. Particularly interesting are the two stretches that help resolve the common hip and back pains.  This is especially advantageous to those who constantly sit for long periods of hours who may occasionally experience lower back and hip pain. And this is quite true also for people with occupations that require them to stay in a variety of uncomfortable positions for any length of time. Plumbers are a PERFECT example of having an occupation that leaves them flexed, rotated, side bent, back bent, crouching, and all manner of odd positions. When I see these clients, they almost ALL present with lower back pain especially in the morning.

Which Occupations Mostly Suffer from Hip and Back Pains?

So if you think about your clientele who you treat for back and hip pain, how many fit this demographic?? Occupations that put them in tight and awkward body positions will undoubtedly increase the risks of having them experience lower back and hip pain. These include plumbers, carpenters, electricians, mechanics not to mention those who sit for hours each day. The mechanism of injury is extended periods of forwarding flexion which loads the posterior chain of the body – excessive glute contraction, and also hamstring and the erector spinae fatigue. Our contralateral muscles often co-contract leading to tight hip flexors, tight adductors, and a restricted capsular hip joint.

The Two Powerful and Effective Stretch Techniques

Let’s address both lower back and hip pain using two powerful and effective stretch techniques.
  • Let’s start with the client supine.
  • Take the affected leg into hip flexion.
  • Now externally rotate their leg until you get the end feel of the tissues in the gluteal region. This can include glute Maximus, minimus and minimus, deep rotators, and/or piriformis. You may also feel the end of the range in the actual joint. Depending on the flexibility of your client, you should be able to externally rotate their leg till the ankle nears their opposite hip.
  • Then you apply a little bit of pressure using your body weight by leaning forward into the client’s raised leg while holding the adjacent hip using your other hand. Fixating the hip stops the pelvis from moving into counternutation or rotation.
  • While in this position, try to flex, externally rotate. Abduct the leg as far as they can manage while stabilizing yourself using your client’s opposite hip. Make sure that the stretch is deep but comfortable. They should be able to breathe through it.
  • You should ask your client for feedback, where they feel the stretch. Any pain felt is usually in the socket and the deeper hip rotators i.e. obturators and Gemelli.
  • Now reposition yourself into a position where you can grasp the full thigh with both your arms. Take the femur into a supportive hug and keep the external rotation and abduction.
  • From there, lean backward away from the table, distract the thigh putting the abductors under stretch. You hold each of these positions for 20 – 30 seconds to allow for some soft tissue ‘creep’.
  • Repeat these two manoeuvers twice more each time going much deeper into the stretches and distractions and leaning more of your body weight.

Watch out for Compressive Groin Pain

  • Now, this stretch is not applicable if your client complains of compressive groin pain. This can be a multitude of reasons including:
    • arthritis,
    • bony spurs,
    • bursitis in the lessor trochanter trochanteric tendonitis, etc.
  • We can address this by getting a pillow slip or hand towel, put it at the proximal medial region of the thigh i.e. the groin or crotch area. Further, distract the femur with the material. You are creating a wedge to encourage the head of the femur further into the posterior lateral region within the acetabulum. This should reduce pain when the client's leg is taken into flexion/adduction/external rotation.
  • Repeat the steps with the other leg and see the difference in the range in motion as you rotate the legs forward and backward.
Now that’s a stretch!!! It focuses on abduction and adduction restrictions, gluteal hypertonicity, tight hip flexors. It can give your clients great relief for both lower back and hip pain. That’s just about it for now with "Hips and Backs NEED these TWO Stretches to Resolve Hip and Back Pains". See you in the next article!
self stretching for head to the left

Self-Stretching to Soothe Sore Neck Muscles Fast

Are you one of the many people CONTINUALLY complaining of neck pain? Have you ever wondered why you usually feel pain in your neck muscles and what you can do about it? Answer this “What Can I Do To Get RID of this DAMN pain?” Let’s first talk about why you might be having this issue in the first place, why EXACTLY is your neck sore??

Why is your neck sore?

People usually experience neck pain for several reasons. But most of the time, one feels pain or stiffness of their neck muscles due to poor posture or overusing your neck. Sometimes, a bad fall or an injury causes neck pain. In our industry, we say ‘misuse’, ‘disuse’, ‘abuse’ or ‘overuse’. Actually most of the time, the pain usually subsides if left for a few days, the body simply self-heals. Neck pains lasting for more than a week needs some serious attention. Especially if accompanied by other symptoms which might include burning pain down the arms, weakness of the muscles of the neck and arms, severe headaches, etc. You should consult a doctor or therapist for further investigation and treatment. But if you feel that your neck is due to your posture or more like the muscles are always TURNED ON, then there a few self-stretching activities that you can do at your home. Do you suffer headaches that feel like they are coming from your neck or shoulders? Can you turn your head sideways properly when reversing your car? Do you get shoulder pain or eye tension?

SCM is the Culprit

If you answered yes to some of these then perhaps, we need to look at a neck muscle in the front of your body. The SCM is quite often the culprit that causes many of those problems. If your SCM or sternocleidomastoid muscle, which is attached to the skull just behind the ears and then glides in a long sweep to the center points of your collar bone. The role of the muscle is to:
  • turn your head
  • to help tilt it to the sides
  • and when STRESSED it pulls your chin forward into a chin tuck position.
This is a protection position but if left untreated will compress the back of your neck. Symptoms of this shortening and compression of the suboccipital muscles are:
  • headaches,
  • eye strain,
  • vertigo (sometimes), and
  • tinnitus with lots of general neck pain
  • in chronic states also upper back pain
By making the SCM muscle longer, it encourages our head placement from chin poke into a more healthy “normal” head position and neck alignment. The stretch that I’m going to teach you is pretty easy and you can do this anytime in the comfort of your home. Here are the steps that you should do to do this stretch.
  1. Go to a mirror because you need to look at your SCM muscle and get an idea of what it does. You will see the SCM muscle when you turn your head sideways, it is that strong thick muscle at the front of your neck, it may or may not be visible but you can generally feel it with your fingers.
  2. Next, we shorten and therefore soften your SCM muscle by turning your ear to the front and lowering your head so the ear is dropping down to your collar bone.
  3. Now take hold of that softened muscle and gently starts to bring your head back up to normal and then extend the head so that the opposite ear is directed to the shoulder blade. You’ll feel your fingers sliding down your SCM muscle every time you repeat this shortening and lengthening movement. This promotes a stretch that is also called an active stretch or a myofascial release technique. Shorten your muscle then come up and gently pull your muscle down to get a really good neck stretch muscle.  And you need to do these steps three times for each side of your neck.
  4. Once you completed on one side, you need to do the same steps on the other side of your neck. So again, do the head movements into neck flexion with an ear to the front and then back into neck extension with the opposite ear to the shoulder blade. You might feel a few lumps, bumps, painful spots along with the SCM muscle. That’s perfectly NORMAL for someone with neck issues. Over time these will ‘iron’ out and your head position return to one your therapist will be happy with. You’ll also feel a nice long stretch all the way along with this overused muscle group. Now repeat these steps again 3 times.
So there you have it. I hope you find this article useful for you. These stretches are simple, easy to apply, and can be done pretty much anytime or anywhere. The tip is whenever you feel neck pain or any symptoms related to SCM muscles you know the first of many options is to apply this stretch.
women stretching thighs and legs

Hook Hip Lift For Stronger Glutes! Quick & Easy

Today, let's focus on hook hip lift!  Do you complain of tight hamstrings or been told you have weakness in your lower back? Do you want to strengthen those glute muscles? I mean you should! They are the big drivers when we sit to stand, push ourselves forward, and need more balance than we probably give credit to. If you are and you do, then this article is right for you! This is perfect for people with short and tight hamstrings which correlates quite strongly to a feeling of a weak or unstable back, and those who want to strengthen their butt muscles in order for more back health. You can easily follow the steps I’m going to share with you.

Why this tightening of hamstrings and weaker backs happen?

But before we dive into anything, you may be wondering why you experience tightening of hamstrings and weaker backs or why you would want to get more power and strength you’re your buttocks. Your muscles can weaken from a few causes, the most common being poor posture, repetitive movements, and sitting for long periods of time. This can be due to work at home or the office or because of a sedentary lifestyle; the result is a weak butt and hamstring group that tighten up to protect and support an unstable pelvis. What happens is that when there is a limited range of motion, your hip flexors find themselves in a continuous-shortened position. Though genetics can be another factor i.e. genetically you are born with short hamstrings. This goes the same for weak backs. Sitting at your desks all the time or lack of physical activities causes all your core muscles to weaken which often leads to lower back pain. This situation does not only cause you pain but also affect your posture, making your back sore, weak, and stiff.

Why Suffer?

You don’t have to suffer from this postural anomaly – we don’t HAVE TO live with tight hamstrings and poor strength in the glutes and lower back. I will teach you what you can do and how to do this exercise correctly so you can alleviate those imbalanced muscles.

How to Strengthen your Glute Maximus?

You’re going to need a tennis ball to perform this technique, we focus on and target strengthening the Glute Maximus during this exercise. Next, follow the steps below. 1.The first thing you need to do is lie down on your back and bend your knees and rest your feet on the ground. Take the ball in your left hand and settle it on the lower ribs directly below your breast tissue. Let’s do this on the left side to start with.
  1. Now that ball is resting there, bring the left knee up to hug the ball and secure it from moving during the exercise.
  2. Let’s make the RIGHT glute do some work! You are about to do a one-legged bridge pose which we know really works the butt efficiently. We need to tweak this up a bit before you start.
  3. Keep the heel down but lift the ball and toes off the floor. This encourages a small heel dig which gives more power to the buttock.
  1. Let’s start the bridging pose now! Your hips will lift up towards the ceiling by contracting the right Glute Maximus, squeeze at the top, hold it for 2 seconds before going down.
  2. Then, pull your hips up and hold it again for 2 seconds before going down. Repeat this again for 8 times the last time before doing the steps again for the other leg. A total of 10 sets for each leg every day to get the full benefits of this exercise. You will feel dramatic changes in the strength of your glutes, your hamstrings are less active in this exercise and overtime should feel less need to help keep the pelvis stable. When that happens their length improves oh yes and your lower back will also benefit from this exercise because a strong bum means a happy back!!

How to address your compressive hip issues?

For those who have compressive hip issues where you can’t bring the legs all the way up to your chest, here is an alternative exercise for you.
  1. First, cross your leg over on top of the other.
  2. Then, press the leg that is crossed over, applying a little bit of pressure. If you notice that your hip rolled to the side of your raised leg, press your hip using your other hand so that you stay on your back while doing this exercise.
This exercise is nice for people with arthritis that want to get a glute stretch and eliminate tight hamstrings and weak backs. So that’s it for now. I hope you found this exercise helpful. See you again in another article.
woman stretching her legs

5 Best Post-Workout Stretches to Prevent Hip and Back Pain!

When doing any physical exercise at home, your main goal is to strengthen and tone your muscles. But after those activities, you always need to do stretches to allow your muscles to return to their normal resting tone. The 5 BEST Stretches to UNRAVEL Back and Hip Pain is what we will be discussing here in this article. But why is it important to make sure that after you have a full program or workout, you need to do stretches? In our previous articles, we have talked about the different benefits of doing a stretch especially on affected areas when you constantly sit down or in a stationary position. For today’s article, we will talk about why stretching is important after physical exercises and the 5 MOST beneficial ones that that TARGET regions that can cause back pain. But first, let me answer our previous question.

Why stretch after a workout??

Stretching is an important phase not only done before any physical exercise in the form of movement through full range to warm the tendons and joint capsules but more so after your workout or any strenuous activities that you did. This is crucial because it not only helps in boosting your flexibility but also helps you avoid the risks of injuries. It also decreases the muscle tension you create when you work-out and keeps your muscles in their preferred resting tone. What’s great about stretching after is that once completed, you’ll feel much more limber, movements more fluid, your joints will have better motion range, and you will be able to move through the balance of the day/evening feeling UNRESTRICTED. Now let’s get into our 5 powerful stretches i.e. "the 5 BEST stretches to unravel Back and Hip Pain" that you can do to keep your muscles flexible and in their normal tone. This is most especially applicable to those office workers, sedentary workers, drivers or anyone who works from home.

Quadriceps and Hip Flexor Stretches

So let’s start with the first two stretches on quadriceps and hip flexors. 1.The first thing you need to do is to lie down on your side, grab your top ankle and pull it toward your buttocks, try to get your heel as close to your buttocks as possible.
  1. If you feel tightness in the hip region then focus more on pushing the hip further forward to target the upper portion of your thigh muscles.
  2. Hold that position for a minimum of 20 to 30 seconds. And if you have chronic tightness, hold that leg for a good 1 minute.
  3. Do these steps for the other leg for 20 to 30 seconds or up to 1 minute if needed.

Glutes Stretch

Once you have completed both sides, now in your sitting position, you can now proceed to the next type of stretch for your Glutes.
  1. From your initial sitting position, lie down on your back and cross your right leg over the other.
  2. Bring up the left leg (so that it carries the right one up) towards your chest, grab that leg behind the knee and pull them both as close to your body as you can. You should feel a deep and wonderful stretch in your butt (Gluteus Maximus and Gluteus Minimus).
  3. Repeat these steps starting by crossing the left leg over the right and really spend time exploring the tight areas of the buttocks any loosening those fibres.

Hamstring Stretch

The next set of stretches is for your hamstrings.
  1. Go back into a sitting position. This time straighten out your legs but make sure you don’t LOCK the knees. This needs to be a muscle stretch and not targeting the nerves.
  2. Then reach your arms out towards your ankles or toes with your both hands.
  3. Try to keep your back as straight as you can simply pivoting from the hip joints. You want to feel the stretch along the back of the upper leg, your hamstrings, and possibly your calves and avoid feeling too much in your lower back.

Inner Thighs Stretch

Now, let’s proceed to our adductors, these are the muscles of your inner thighs and can get extremely tight. Many people forget to stretch them but in my EXPERIENCE these groups can cause a lot of issues to the hips, buttocks and back. In fact when was the last time you stretched your inner thighs?????
  1. Now again in your sitting position, spread your legs apart as wide as you can, try to keep the feeling of your sit bones on the floor so you don’t roll into a low back curve. If it’s too difficult perhaps sit up against a wall to keep the back straight. You want to feel your adductors stretching.
  2. Reach out with your arms, hands, and with the straightest back you can manage try to get your elbows and possibly your chest to the floor. We can increase the effectiveness by targeting one leg at a time, grab one foot with both hands, lean your body down towards that leg. Rest into the stretch for 30 seconds. In this way you are also working on the deep rotator muscles around the hip joint.
  3. Repeat these steps into the other leg.

Pectoral Muscle Stretch

For our final stretch, we are going to focus on our chest. Our previous 4 stretches focused on the lower body but our chest muscles are so often tight from inactivity or post bench press types of weight training. We want to open up the chest region, stretch the pectoral muscles and underlying smaller rib stabilizers by using a foam roller.
  1. Lie down place your foam roller along the line of your spine, you should feel a little unbalanced because you are only one the roller and very little of your back is in contact with the floor.
  2. Open your arms wide and rest them on the floor, this will stabilize you, now you can feel the stretch, your chest is fully open. Feel the extension of your back as well and enjoy that wonderful stretch of opening up the chest and front of your shoulders.
So there you have it, the 5 BEST stretches to unravel Back and Hip Pain, in less than 5 minutes you’ve set yourself up for happy muscles.
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