Hip Flexors and Lower Back Pain

Hip Flexors and Lower Back Pain


It is estimated that about 8 out of 10 people around the world will suffer some form of lower back pain. While less will be afflicted with severe damage such as bulging (Herniated) or a complete prolapsed disc, the majority will be caused from tight hamstrings or tight hip flexors.

The hip flexors muscles make up the group of skeletal muscles that act to flex the femur (thigh bone). These along with others act to flex the hip joint. Often referred to collectively as the Iliopsoas made up of the Psoas major, Psoas minor and the Iliacus muscle.

The following also play a part these are known as Rectus Femoris (which make up the Quads) and Sartorius. These guys are also then linked in with the gluteal muscles (tensor fasciae and the medial compartment of the thigh involving pectineus, adductor longus and brevis and gracilis. However in this article we want to focus on psoas major and minor.

These hip flexor muscles attach from your hip and then around to the vertebrae in your lower back region. So when your hip flexor muscles are tight, they can pull your lower back into an uncomfortable position, placing additional pressure on the lumbar region. (Lower back)

Your hip flexor is a deep muscle in the front of your hip and when they are tight or shortened they can cause pain and restrict movement. Often pain can occur after walking for long periods and sitting down in an office chair for too long. As we age and don’t stretch these muscles are harder to lengthen. So the key is to stretch these regularly which hopefully will prevent pain and increase mobility. It is also good to stretch the hamstrings as well.  Often the hip flexors are the ones causing the damage and can sometimes be misdiagnosed whereby the practitioner works on the abdominals and hamstrings neglecting the hip flexors.

Try these stretches to assist with lengthening your hip flexors. Kneeling on one knee with your opposite leg out in front at 90% to the floor. Lean forward with your head up and chest facing forward, stretching the front of your hip. You should feel this pull in the front of your hip. Change legs and repeat.

Find a table at about hip height and rest your buttocks on the edge. Bend your knee and hold it with both arms. Rock back and let the other leg hang off the table. Have a friend push the over hanging leg towards the floor and push the bent leg towards your chest.

Check the internet for some visuals of these hip flexors exercise and stretches. You will be amazed at how much better your lower back will feel. 


John Hart

“Master’s In Education” (Disability) Newcastle University Australia

“Grad Cert Education” Newcastle University Australia

“Diploma Fitness/Recreation”

“Cert 4 Personal Training”

“Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach”

2 Responses to “Hip Flexors and Lower Back Pain”

  1. cindigo February 6, 2011 at 2:59 am Permalink

    Hi John
    I suffer from this type of strain every now and again and I struggle to work out if i’m stretching the right glut muscle. how do I know which one is the correct one?

    • John February 6, 2011 at 5:40 am Permalink

      Hi Chris,
      in this case its not the Gluts we are looking at its the hip flexor that needs stretching…keep up the triathlons… I love seeing older athletes still out there :)
      John Hart

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