As a massage therapist you tend to see a lot of people with many different conditions. Lower back pain is something that everyone can relate to at some point or another. When I am explaining to my clients some of the possible causes for their lower back pain one thing I find not many people are thinking about is what is happening in front of the spine. They are not thinking about a group of muscles called the Hip Flexors, many even don’t know what they are.
The Hip Flexors are made up of two muscles attaching to the front of the spine and inside the pelvis that extend down to attach to the head of the femur. They are called Psoas and Iliacus , sometime you will hear people refer to them as the Iliopsoas. As they attach to the spine and the hip they act on both causing movement, with our feet planted they contract to move the trunk forward like if you were to touch your toes. When the trunk is stable they help lift the leg and knee forward (like going up the stair).When these muscles are tight they are going to limit the range of motion in hip extension (moving the leg behind you) as well as lumbar spine extension (leaning backwards). If they are tight when you stand up straight they pull on the front of the spine drawing it forward , the lower back muscles do not like this. So they try to tighten as well pulling the spine back to natural, a kind of muscle tug-of-war. The lower back muscles get fatigued and you get lower back pain .
These muscles are in a shorten state when we are sitting in a chair. The way our lives are now with so many people working on computers and doing desk jobs I see a lot of clients with tightened, short Hips Flexors. I am continually telling my clients things to help loosen these muscles as well as the work we are doing at the clinic. Here are a few things that can help , if you are sitting a lot with work or other things try to make sure you get up out of that chair and move around as much as possible. Make sure you do some stretches to help loosen the front of the hips , one of my favourite is a low lunge with your knee on the floor (Stephanie posing in picture below). Be kind to your back and make sure if you are lifting that you are bending your knees. Sometimes we need a little extra help getting these muscles to loosen and this is why your massage therapist is here.