For the past year, I’ve had problems with my lower back and hips being really tight and painful. I knew that the best way to fix things was to stretch my muscles and strengthen my core, but I had thrown my back out twice before and was worried that it might be too much for my back to handle.
On April 24th, I was truly in agony and nothing seemed to be helping. Not anti-inflammatories, not ice packs, not heating pads. I decided that day that I wasn’t going to live that way anymore. I decided to strengthen my core slowly and gently.
Fast forward to today, May 4th, and I’m happy to say that just TEN days later, I feel like a new woman.
Three super simple things helped me relieve my tight lower back and hips, and I’d like to share them with you. :)
3 Simple Ways to Relieve Tight Lower Back and Hips
I’m currently reading Younger by Dr. Sara Gottfried (a must-read for any woman over 40), and Chapter 7 made me realize that I’ve been sitting way too much and how it’s affecting my back and hips. She says,
“Yes, sitting is the new smoking because of how it increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease – but it can also make your belly look fat by tightening your poor hip flexors and increasing your waist circumference. Here’s how that works: When you slump in a chair, abdominal muscles go slack while lower back muscles tighten, leading to swayback. The sway in your low back pushes out the abdomen, and your hip flexors are too tight to pull the belly back into the core.”
In other words: me. LOL.
Between working from home (and sitting at my computer for most of it) and waiting in school pick up lines, I realized that I sit for about 5 hours each day. While my sitting time is lower than the average American who sits for 8 hours a day, it’s still a lot of sitting.
So, how do we sit less? Here are a few simple suggestions:
- When waiting in school pick up line, get out of the car and get some fresh air
- Reserve the last 10-15 minutes of every hour to get up from your desk, stretch, and walk around a bit – if you work from home, do some jumping jacks, jump rope, or jog in place
- Try a standing desk or a treadmill desk (you can find them on Amazon)
- Watch less TV – take a walk instead and listen to an audio book
We all know that stretching is the best thing for tight muscles, but mine were so tight, that even basic stretches were impossible.
I searched through my DVD collection to see if I had anything that might help, and found Yoga for Energy and Stress Relief by Rodney Yee. I scanned the back to see what it was about, and zeroed in on the second sequence which uses a chair for support, called Gentle Relaxation. It said, “Use your breath to relax the body and quiet the mind. This practice is designed to help you release tension in the hips, back, and side body.”
Bingo! That was the one for me.
On April 25th, I started doing that 20-minute sequence every day and by Friday, April 28th, I noticed a remarkable difference in my lower back and hips. For the first time in over a year, they didn’t hurt and I could actually sit in a cross-legged pose without wanting to cry. The “quieting the mind” part of the sequence also made me realize that I hold all of my stress in my lower back.
Now when I’m feeling anxious about something (like, oh I don’t know… my daughter getting her driver’s license ;), I know to (and this might sound weird) inhale deeply into my lower back and exhale all the tension out.
Strengthen your core
After a few days of doing the yoga DVD, I decided to add some gentle core strengthening exercises to the mix.
Doing standing exercises was still too much for my back and hips, so I chose these floor exercises to help strengthen my hips, butt, and abs. I started off with 10 reps of each exercise, and now do about 25 reps of each of these 6 exercises, for a total of 50 reps per body part. When I’m feeling stronger, I’ll add more. :)
Floor exercises for hips, butt, and abs:
- Hips: Set 3 and Set 4 of these exercises
- Butt: The Glute Bridge and Donkey Kicks from these exercises
- Abs: Regular crunches and these bicycle crunches
Who knew it could be this simple?
These three simple things totally relieved my tight lower back and hips in under two weeks.
Today is May 4th and I have zero pain in my lower back and hips. I can bend and stretch easily, and I can even tie my shoes, sit in lotus pose, and clean the tub without wincing. :)