Hip mobility is key to the health of the spine. When we lack the motion at our hip joints, the spine will take up the slack by moving into flexion or extension. Here I am trying to lift my leg backward. Compare the two pictures. You can see the increase of the lumbar curve on the left, this is called extension. This creates compression and degeneration of the tissues and tension in the back muscles. This picture on the right shows my true hip motion without compensating by getting more motion through my spine.
Now, here I am lying on my back with my knees bent. On the pic on the top, the dots demonstrate having a level pelvis. As I bring my knee toward my chest, I moved past my actual motion at my hip joint and my pelvis tilts posterior or toward the floor. This action creates flexion at my spine and places more stress on the lumbar discs making me more susceptible to a disc herniation or degeneration.
Restore mobility to your hips, and save your spine from wear and tear from all that extra motion! Below are 10 of my favorite Restorative Exercises™ to free up the hips and the spine! Unless stated otherwise, hold the stretch for one minute each side.
Susan McLaughlin is a physical therapist who specializes in the management of pelvic floor and orthopedic dysfunctions. She is the owner of ALIGN integration|movement in Salt Lake City, UT. Helpful tips and other self care strategies can be found at www.alignintegrationandmovement.com.