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Stretches for low back and hip tightness


There are plenty of reasons for low back and hip discomfort. Different diagnoses, muscle, disc or nerve involvements and pathologies require specific movements and modifications. Rather than getting into those details or specifics, I’m going to touch on general stretches for the lower extremity, hips and lumbar spine. These are basics that each and every one of us should be doing to maintain good range of motion, tissue flexibility, improve trunk posture and find relief from tension and tightness.

1.       Hamstring Stretch

Stand on a single leg. Place other foot on an elevated surface.  Straighten lifted leg. Keep hips facing forward without rotating pelvis open. Lean forward from hips with a neutral spine. Stretch should be felt in that back of the leg. *You can pull toes towards shin for calf involvement or move your foot like a windshield wiper for a more dynamic stretch reaching all three hamstring muscles.


2.       Hip Flexor Stretch in 1/2 kneeling

Kneel on one leg while the other is forward with knee bent and foot planted in front of you. Tuck your hips under (tipping your pelvis backwards), pull abdominals in and lunge forward. Stretch should be felt in the front of the hip of the kneeling leg.

3.       Piriformis Stretch

In sitting, place one foot on top of opposite knee. Press lightly down on elevated knee as you lean forward from the hips without rounding the spine.  Stretch should be felt deep to the rear of the lifted leg.

4.       Quadratus lumborum Stretch

Lay on your back. Bend both legs and cross one over the other – try with thighs touching or with one ankle resting above opposite knee, whatever feels best. Reach one arm out to the side and turn your head towards outstretched limb. Let legs fall in opposite direction of arm. It’s ok if hip and spine lift off floor. Stretch should be felt in the low back, back/side of waist and lateral hips.


5.       Cat/Camel into Child’s Pose

Start on hands and knees. Inhale and round your back as if a string is attached to your spine between the shoulder blades and pulling upwards. * In this initial movement focus on rounding the low back as well, rotating the pelvis by contracting lower abdominal muscles (below the belly button). Exhale and arch your spine to allow your chest to fall while pulling your shoulder blades together. After 5 or so repetitions of this dynamic movement, bring your rear end towards heals and reach forward with outstretch arms. Take a few deep breaths and let the gentle traction of your spine stretch your low back. Stretch may also be felt on the sides of your rib cage. Hold child’s pose for anywhere between 20 and 45 seconds, whatever feels good to you.

*Each stretch should be held between 15 and 30 seconds, whatever is tolerable for you. Repeat each position on both sides.  Do not stretch to or beyond pain.

There are many ways to do each stretch. At Northwest Wellness, our Physical Therapy team will identify and tailor stretches and exercises required for specific injuries, pain and diagnoses. We can modify and adapt every movement and position based on individual needs and restrictions.

Contact us for a Physical Therapy consultation or examination.

Northwest Wellness

34730 Pacific Hwy South

Federal Way, WA 98002