The Hip and Low Back Connection

Although anatomically the hip and the spine aren't directly connected, one can definitely affect the other. This post will outline how hip injuries and restrictions can contribute to low back pain and why the hip should never be overlooked when assessing someones low back pain complaint.

Anatomy 

The spine is made up of 24 vertebral bones from the neck to the low back. When the spine is in the proper alignment it holds us upright, protects our spinal cord, and helps us absorb shock and compression. The spine formation allows us to move and twist, but was not designed to do all the heavy lifting and bending.

 

The hip is a ball and socket joint, surrounded by muscles, ligaments, and a joint capsule. Our thigh bone meets our pelvis, which connects to the base of our spine. It is a large joint support by large muscle groups which makes it very powerful. The hips are located in the middle of our body, near our centre of gravity and are a point of pivoting when we bend and lift. These large hip joints were made to take the brunt of the force when we move.

How do the hips cause back pain?

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When the hip doesn't function properly, whether it is arthritis, tight muscles, weak muscles, current or past injuries, it can contribute to back pain. When we bend, we should be using what we call a hip hinge, sticking the bum out and keeping our back straight. This hip hinge comes from the hip joints, many of us keep our hips still and round through our back to bend. When we bend, lift and twist the forces we encounter should be transmitted through our big hip joints. When there is a restriction here the forces move up the kinetic chain and pounds our low back muscles and joints. Our low back joints were not made to withstand these forces, thus causing pain, spasm and inflammation.

 

It's all about sharing the load and placing forces where they are meant to be. Simply by opening the hips and teaching proper hip hinge and bending/lifting form, people can relieve their chronic low back pain. No surgery, no drugs, just technique and stretching! This is why it is very important to have your hips checked for mobility and strength when you are asking about low back pain. Simple exercises to stretch and train proper form can be taught by a health care professional. Your back pain may be from injury or other conditions as well so we always advise you get assessed by a physiotherapist or chiropractor before beginning any exercise routine.