2 Movements to Save Your Life

Have you ever had a stiff lower back after sitting for just 20 minutes? Have you ever felt too tired to bend over to pick up the sock you dropped on the floor? Believe it or not, either of these could be due to tight or weak or imbalanced hips. Our hips are our body’s primary engine (or perhaps more accurately, the primary drivetrain). By drivetrain I mean that while the spine (the driveshaft if you will) provides the base and stability for all our movement, our main locomotion is driven by hip flexion and hip extension. Let’s talk about these 2 basic, fundamental movements, hip flexion and extension, and how they help you every single day.

Hip flexion is essentially the movement that brings the knees toward the chest. This is accomplished by contraction of the hip flexors (iliacus, psoas, and rectus femoris muscles). Hip flexors have a tendency to shorten and become overly tight so we need to release them. The bulk of these muscles attach to the front of the lumbar spine, so when they shorten and tighten they pull the lower back into an arched position. Individuals who sit for a good portion of their day with their hips in a bent or flexed position are especially prone to insidious lower back pain. Even though these muscles are located in front of the spine, the effect of their tightness is usually felt in the back. The following are a couple good stretch for the hip flexor muscles
Hip Stretch
…There are other effective ways to release this muscle group. Call our office today to find out how chiropractic adjustments can help remedy hip flexion restrictions and lengthen tight hip flexors. Don’t let insidious lower back pain sneak up on you.

Hip extension is the primary motion whenever we go from sitting to standing. When we squat down we must extend our hips in order to stand back up. Jumping, sprinting, climbing, pushing, and lifting all require powerful “hip drive” (hip extension). Athletes know the importance of hip drive in generating power to move their body or an object as quickly and efficiently as possible. For those competing on the field of life who are mindful of the importance of maintaining and enjoying physical independence and freedom, this is called “making life easier”. As we maintain and improve hip extension all other work and recreation feels easier. Everything from vacuuming to carrying groceries to picking up kids to picking up dropped keys takes less effort. So how do we improve this? Squats and lunges are the best candidates for working on hip drive/extension. For today let’s focus on the squat. There can be a lot to discuss and/or correct in this important movement, but the essential components are:

  1. Feet shoulder width apart

  2. Look straight ahead

  3. Maintain lower back arch

  4. Drop the hips down and back to below the knee

  5. Keep weight in the heels not the toes

  6. Keep chest up
    Air Squat

Call our office today if you have any questions regarding the content in this article. Also, to be sure any hip extension restrictions are “cleared out”, please make an appointment to be adjusted soon.

Challenge: Once you get comfortable with say 20-30 squats try this challenge: Stand facing a wall with your toes 3-8 inches away from the wall (or touching for a real challenge). Now squat all the way below your knees without falling backwards. How many can you do? Shoot us an email and let us know! (Print Article)