The most common musculoskeletal problem, low back pain is costing Americans approximately 50 billion dollars in treatment cost. This number is staggering and will only continue to grow if Americans do not change their habits and movement quality. Low back pain is very difficult to treat with or without medication because the underlying problem is difficult to change or has never been addressed.
We have become a sedentary population; researchers have estimated that Americans sit between 7-10 hours a day. This means that your hamstrings and hip flexors remain in a shortened position for a minimum of 7 hours a day, possibly longer. If you sit in front of a computer, your chest muscles begin to tighten, shoulders begin to protrude forward and your low back muscles are stretched almost to end range. Let’s not forget that your discs are being compressed and pushed out toward your nerves.
How do these muscular changes cause low back pain with daily and recreational activities? Well, it prevents you from performing one of the most FUNDAMENTAL and PRIMITIVE movements correctly, the HIP HINGE! A correct hip hinge during a forward bend or while lifting, places most of the weight in your hips and legs instead of your low back. This allows an individual to return upright using their glutes and hamstrings, two large muscles groups more than capable of performing such a task. On the other hand, if you do not perform a correct hip hinge, most of the stress will go to your lower back muscles, which are not designed to handle such a repetitive work capacity. This problem leads to acute back pain then eventually chronic back pain because your hip hinge never changes!
The hip hinge should be an effortless movement that is developed during the toddler stage. The more I think about it, I can not remember ever seeing a toddler bend forward while keeping his knees locked. Most toddlers are learning how to stabilize themselves during movement to prevent from falling. So, it makes sense that they used the hip hinge or deep squat to lower themselves to the floor without falling.
So, if the hip hinge stabilized a toddler who can barely walk, then why aren’t people reverting to this movement pattern?
Proper hip hinge mechanics include anterior rotation of the pelvis while maintaining a neutral spine with your weight shifted posteriorly, and your knees bent approximately 30 degrees. Remember to keep your neck and spine in alignment throughout the movement.
At Rebound Physical Therapy, our goal is to get you back to what you enjoy doing! We stand behind our philosophy which embraces both empowering and educating our patients through reducing or eliminating pain, improving strength and coordination and preventing future sports injuries.