Lower back pain is the number one client complaint I get daily if not hourly. Lower back pain? I thought this article was about the hips. Well my friends, the root of 99% of all back pain comes from a disease called L.B.S. This acronym stands for Lazy Butt Syndrome, which affects most office workers and avid runners. Simply put, the hips are unhappy, not working properly and taking out their vengeance on other areas of the body.
Chronic knee pain in runners = LBS. Sciatic nerve pain in office workers = LBS. The list can go and on with the root of the cause generally being weak glutes with immobility issues. Luckily there is a prescription for Lazy Butt Syndrome and the cure entails keeping the hips mobile and strengthening those lackadaisical muscles.
Foam rolling is essential for keeping your hips happy. A simple 5 to 10 minutes every day will keep your hips loose and in turn prevent unwanted lower back pain. Concentrate on all your tight areas, especially the hip flexors and hamstrings. Throw in some quad and IT band foam rolling for good measure.
Static stretching will also be important to keeping your hips happy after hours of sitting. Most stretches can even be done at your desk. Perform the following stretches once or twice per day depending on your degree of tightness. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and up to 60 seconds if you are feeling very tight.
Keep it Mobile
Standing Quad Stretch – Reach behind your torso and grab your foot to stretch the front side of your leg. Keep both knees inline and your chest upright.
Standing Hip Flexor Stretch – Take a wide lunge stance with both heels flat on the floor. Push your hips forward while keeping your torso upright.
Standing Hamstring Stretch – Prop one foot on your chair, lean towards your toes keeping your chest upright. Maintain a straight back while hinging at the hip.
Seated Outer Hip Stretch – Sit in a chair with upright posture with both feet on the floor. Cross one leg overtop of the bent knee and push gently with your hand until a stretch in the outer hip is felt.
Frog Adductor Stretch – Position yourself on the floor on your hands and knees. Widen the space between the knees with feet pointing out until you feel a stretch in your inner thigh.
The following exercises are designed to counteract extended periods of sitting and to strengthen weak glutes. Each exercise should be done no more than twice per week to ensure proper strengthening. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 reps of each exercise adding as much weight as you feel comfortable.
Keep it Strong
Lateral Walks - Squat down low and move laterally to your right and then your left. Try to keep your shoulders level and avoid bouncing up and down.
Single Leg deadlift - Using a kettlebell or free weight, hinge at your hip and lower the weight towards the floor. One leg will extend backwards to keep your balance, and keep your back straight as you lower the weight to the floor.
Side plank with clam shell - Tie a resistance band around your knees and position yourself in a modified side plank. Lift your hips off the floor and externally rotate the hip like a clamshell. Maintain the side plank the entire set.
Walking lunges - Take a wide forward step keeping your front foot planted while the back heel comes off the floor. Slowly lower your knee to the floor until your front leg makes a 90 degree angle.
Weighted hip thrust – Sit on the floor next to a weight bench and grab either end of the bench, back resting against it. With your knees bent, push your hip towards the ceiling until your torso is parallel to the floor. Add a weighted body bar as needed.
Single leg squats – Using suspension straps or a bench for balance, squat using only one leg. Extend your non-working leg out to counter balance the squat. Maintain good posture and hinge at the hip.