If your hips and back hurt, you should try these yoga poses to loosen those hips and relieve lower back pain.
You don’t have to go far to hear someone complaining about tight hips and lower back pain. Back pain is the third most common cause of doctor visits in the US, with a surprising 25–30% of people actually seeking treatment for their pain.
You’re not alone, in a typical working week, people spend on average 5 hours and 41 minutes sitting at their desk every day day. This is inevitable if you work in an office. Luckily, there are some lower back stretches and hip openers that can help to take the pressure off this area and lower your chances of experiencing lower back pain.
Ten yoga poses that can help loosen tight hips and relieve lower back pain:
- Child’s Pose
- Pigeon Pose
- Eye of the Needle Pose
- Reclined Twist Pose
- Cat and Cow Pose
- Lizard Pose
- Garland Pose
- Low Lunge Pose
- Cow Face Pose
- Happy Baby Pose
Humans are built to stand upright, but, unfortunately, the majority of people tend to work jobs where you sit for long periods of time. In general, your body works more efficiently when you’re active. Things like your heart, bowels, bones, and energy levels all benefit from being physically active.
Americans are sitting for longer than any other time in history. That’s a pretty bold and terrifying statement. It’s not so much the sitting itself that leads to poor health but the effects of moving too little in general. According to the American Heart Association, sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950. That’s not to say that if your work requires you to sit at a desk all day that you can’t counteract the effects of sitting for long periods of time.
By understanding how your lifestyle affects your body and the link between your hips and lower back, you can look to loosen up your hips and release tension from your body.
What Causes Tight Hips and Lower Back Pain?
Like any pain, there are many potential causes, and lower back pain is no different. However, when it comes to hip tightness, one of the most commonly cited causes is from sitting for several hours a day. The health of your lower back region can be directly affected by hip flexors and hamstrings.
When you sit for long periods of time, hip flexors can get tight. This effect increases the likelihood of lower back pain. Your hip muscles are in a shortened position for a prolonged time which doesn’t do you any favors. If you don’t have the time to step away during a work day, you can still reap the benefits and do yoga at your office desk.
Tight Hips and Lower Back Pain
When a person has tight hips, they are referring to their hip flexors. The hip flexors are a group of muscles around the top of your thighs. They connect the top of the leg to the hip. These are the muscles that allow you to bend and lift your legs. Many people suffer from tight hips; from people who sit for several hours a day to athletes and gym-goers.
With tight hips, you may not only experience hip discomfort but lower back pain and hamstring strain too. Tight hips can lead to issues in the lower back and knees. Tight hips not only feel uncomfortable, but they can affect your workout and your range of motion. This can impact everything from how low you can squat to the efficiency of your running.
Yoga is a great way to open up your hips and loosen up the lower back. Hip-opening stretches can relieve tightness and strengthen your hips. Stretching not only helps your hips but is beneficial to your overall health.
As with any body movement, always listen to your body. A stretch may feel sore to begin with, but this will eventually lead to relief. If you feel any sharp pain whatsoever, then slowly move out of the pose.
Hip-Opening Yoga Poses and Stretches for Tight Hips and Lower Back
Who doesn’t love sinking into a deep child’s pose after a yoga session? This position stretches your knees, shins, hips, arms, and spine.
On your mat, start on your hands and knees with your toes pointing behind you. Spread your knees wider than your hips but not wider than the mat. Then sink back on your heels and lower your stomach to your legs while reaching your arms out straight in front of you. Breathe deeply for 10–15 counts and then release.
Pigeon pose is one of the most effective hip openers because you can focus on one hip at a time.
A double benefit for your hips, Pigeon pose helps to externally rotate the hip joint while also lengthening the psoas.
To practice, from a down dog position, raise your right leg high in the air and then bring your right foot to your left hand and place your leg down by bringing your knee to the right side of their mat. The shin should be parallel with the top of the mat, or as close to it as possible. Keep their right foot flexed to protect the knee. Rotate your left thighs inwardly, ensuring that the front of your thigh is firmly on the floor. Your left leg should also be in line with their left hip. If it feels comfortable, rest forearms on the ground or lay your whole body on top of your right leg and relax. Breathe deeply for 10–15 counts and then release and repeat on the left side.
Eye of the Needle Pose
This pose is ideal for stretching out your lower back, glutes, knees, and hips. It’s can also be helpful in relieving sciatica pain.
Start by laying on your back with your knees pointing towards the ceiling and feet on the mat, hip-width apart. Raise your right foot and place on top of your left thigh.
This is where you thread the needle, put your hands around your left leg and hold the back of your left thigh. Finally, pull both legs towards your chest for as long as you can, then release. Be sure to keep your back flat on the ground. Take a breath and then switch legs.
Yoga can be deceptively uncomfortable, but the rewards on the body and mind make it worth it. This post-yoga chai green smoothie is a good motivator to keep you hitting the mat.
Related: Yoga-Motivator Chai Green Smoothie
Reclined Twist Pose (Supine Twist)
This spinal twist is a comfortable and supportive pose, especially on the lower back and hips. It also stretches your neck, shoulders, and chest.
Lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest. Breathe deeply and on the exhale, let your legs fall gently to the left. Position your arms to the side of your head or just the right arm for a deeper stretch. Relax your shoulders to the floor and shift your gaze over the right shoulder. Hold the position, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Repeat on the other side for a full body stretch.
Cat and Cow Pose
Transitioning between cat and cow pose stretches your entire back, hips, core, neck, and chest.
Start on your hands and knees on the mat with your shoulders above your hands. Make sure your fingers are spread wide. Breathe in and arch your back, look up to the ceiling and lift your tailbone. As you breathe out, round your spine and tuck your tailbone and chin against your chest. Switch between the two positions for 10–15 breaths.
The perfect pose for tight and uncomfortable hips, Lizard Pose stretches the hips, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
Begin in Downward-Facing Dog. Take a deep breath in and on the exhale, step your right foot forward to the outside edge of your right hand. Both of your arms should be to the left of the right leg. Lower your left knee onto the mat. Your right knee should be directly over your right ankle. Sink your weight into your body, balanced evenly on both hips.
If it feels comfortable, lower onto the elbows, keeping the chin lifted. For a deeper stretch curl the left toes and press up onto the ball of your foot. Hold the pose for 5–10 breaths then repeat on the other side.
Another great hip-opener, this pose strengthens and increases motion in the ankles and hips, stretches the back muscles and abdomen.
Start by squatting with your feet close together. If you can’t keep your feet flat on the mat, use a folded mat or blanket to support them. Separate your thighs so they are wider than your torso. As you exhale, lean your torso forward so that it’s between your thighs. Place your hands in a prayer position and push your elbows out to the side, pressing your knees open. Hold for at least 5 breaths.
Low Lunge Pose
A low lunge is a simple yet effective move to open up the hips and release some tension. It targets certain muscles in the hip flexors to strengthen and lengthen muscles. Similar to Lizard Pose, but you’re lifting the chest instead of falling forward. This pose can help to relax the hip flexor muscles and release any built-up tension. The movement also stretches the groin and thighs and opens up the chest which is a bonus.
Start in Downward Dog, exhale, and step through with your right foot. Place your feet between your hands. Stack the right knee over the right heel. Lower the left knee to the floor. If you need more support, you can fold a blanket or put a pillow under the left knee. Slide your left leg back until you feel a stretch in your hip and groin. Place the top of your left foot on the floor. Lift your torso and swipe your arms above your head. Hold for up to 1 minute. Come out of the pose slowly and repeat on the other leg.
Cow Face Pose
Performed properly, Cow Face Pose provides a deep stretch for the hips, thighs, shoulders, and chest. It’s an essential pose for opening up the hips. As many of you already know, the hips can be a hotspot for stress build-up in the body. Sitting in this pose regularly and breathing deeply can help to relieve tension in the hips.
Sit with your hips on the mat with your left knee on your right knee stacked in a straight line. You can use a blanket or block to sit on if one of your hips is higher than the other. Remain sitting upright or if you need a deeper stretch, fold forward. Hold for 4 to 5 breaths then repeat on the other side.
Happy Baby Pose
Another excellent hip opener, Happy Baby Pose helps to reduce tension and stress in the hips. It also exercises your back muscles and helps the muscles surrounding your spine to get moving. This pose also helps to release tension in the sacrum, lengthen the hamstrings, and massage the kidneys.
Start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift your feet off the floor and grab the outside edges of your feet. Gently spread your knees hip-width apart and raise your knees to your armpits. Your shins should be perpendicular to the floor. If you need to you can support the lower back with a block or blanket. Hold the pose for up to 1 minute.
Sometimes sitting for long periods of time is inevitable. If you work from a desk, which a large majority of the population do, you do end up sitting throughout the day. But if you can integrate active moments during your day, you can begin to combat the effects of sitting and relieve tension in the hips and body. Practice these poses daily to increase blood flow and loosen your lower back and hips.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 08, 2019 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.