Sweat and Smiles: January!

by Jen Lausten PT and Amy Smith ATC

We mentioned in last month’s introduction that we would be discussing how our hips can be the “quiet” cause of our low back pain, or even knee or foot pain.
First of all, long and strong hip muscles, such as the Rectus Femoris, Iliotibial Band, and Psoas Major can easily become tight and cause biomechanical pain elsewhere in the body.

A typical problem for a sedentary person, such as someone with a desk job who does little exercise, is when the psoas hip flexor muscle becomes shortened and tight. This can lead to low back pain when standing up because the muscle originates from the lumbar spine, crosses the front of the hip and attaches on the thigh. This can be seen in the picture below. This tightness causes the low back to arch too much (hyperlordosis), which causes compression pain in the lumbar segments of the spine.

So what can you do about it? Here is a simple stretch for the hip flexors (psoas).

If the muscle is very tight, you may need deep soft tissue work from a physical therapist.
Another common problem is having Iliotibial band (ITB) tightness.

As you can see this muscle attaches to the top of the pelvis, runs down the side of the leg and attaches to the tibia below the knee. This is an unusual muscle because it consists mostly of fibrous tendon and doesn’t have much of a muscle belly. When tight, this can cause hip bursitis or lateral knee pain. This occurs commonly with avid cyclists and sedentary people. Here are a few easy stretches below:


The one above with the roller is painful at first but is very effective!

Now you are probably wondering how in the world the hip can cause foot pain. If you think of the body in a biomechanical sense, you will see that if the body cannot achieve movement in one place, it will find it somewhere else. The body will always take the path of least resistance. So for example, if the hip isn’t moving well, one way the body may accommodate is by rolling the ankle inward.
Tune in next month for more on this type of foot pain, as well as Plantar Fasciitis, a common source of foot pain, and the biomechanical solutions next month!