Last month, we started working on posture from the ground up, with your feet, ankles, and knees. Today, we’re going to continue to move up the body and address common postural problems at the hip and lower back. As I mentioned in my previous article (https://re-kinect.com/posture-hack-1-how-to-improve-duck-feet/) “Donald Duck” posture isn’t the problem, rather it’s the result of other things going on within your body. Specifically it’s a result of the excessive wear and tear on your joints created by muscle imbalances which can occur in your everyday moments (walking, running, walking upstairs, etc.) If allowed to go unchecked, it can eventually lead to causing more pain and more dysfunction—even injury.
We modern humans sit too much. This, combined with less walking (how much do you walk versus drive in a day?) leads to shortened hip flexors (the muscles in the front of the hip.) Short hip flexors lead to inhibited glutes (butt muscles.) This is problematic because your butt is your motor. Your butt should be pushing your body forward with every step you take. If the butt can’t do its job, the body finds another strategy to keep you walking, like using the hamstrings and/ or the muscles of the lower back. So now, the hamstrings and lower back are over-working with every step you take. No wonder your back hurts!
Zone 2: Hips and Lower Back
Stand side-ways (parallel) to a mirror with your feet shoulder-width. What do you see? Is there a nice straight line from the top of your pelvic bone to your pubis bone? Or does the top of your pelvis tip forward? If you answered the latter, you have short hip flexors. Now take a look at your lower back. If your hip flexors are tight, you’ll likely notice that your lower back has a big curve in it (it should have some curvature- just not an excessive one.) If you notice that increased curve, you’re likely over-using your back muscles every step you take!
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet on the mat. (Use a pillow under your head to get your face level if lying flat strains your neck.) Pull your right knee to your chest (to prevent your back from arching.) Then straighten your left leg along the floor. Squeeze and release your left butt muscle 10 times. (You can poke it with your fingers if you can’t “find it” at first.) You should feel the front of your left hip “open” or straighten as the butt muscle engages. Be sure to do this on both sides and breathe throughout the exercise. Once you feel your butt working again, try going for a short walk—do you still feel the butt working?
Caution: If you get a hip pinch when drawing the knee to your chest, try not holding the knee so tight to your chest—just tight enough to keep the lower back from arching. If you still feel a hip pinch, or feel this exercise in your lower back, it’s time to consult a professional. Let us help you find an exercise that works better for you. Remember, you didn’t get here overnight, and permanent change will take time and perseverance. If you need a little help and some practical advice please contact me at [email protected].