We’ve all heard the lectures preaching how hip mobility and strength is a common answer to alleviating low back pain; and per the mobility/stability continuum (Thanks for the review, Dr. Mike Voight!), it makes sense. But can we ‘back’ it up with some data? Last year, researcher Sang Lee and colleagues conducted a study to compare hip range of motion between a lumbar stability group and a lumbar instability group. They also investigated the effectiveness of hip exercises for low-back pain patients with lumbar instability, using lumbar stabilization to strengthen muscles to support the spine and prevent low back pain.
The Effectiveness of Hip Exercises in Eliminating Low Back Pain
Seventy-eight subjects were divided into two groups: a lumbar stability group and a lumbar instability group. About half of each group was assigned to a hip-joint exercise subgroup, while the rest were assigned to a control group. Over a span of six weeks, the experimental group performed hip joint exercises along with lumbar stabilization exercises, while the control group only performed lumbar stabilization exercises. Intensity of low back pain was recorded at three weeks and six weeks after the baseline.
Those who were part of the experimental group took part in four closed-chain exercises using sling apparatus for lumbar stabilization. As for increasing hip range of motion, the subjects performed open- chain exercises using slings. For hip joint flexion strengthening, the subjects performed active resistance exercises using TheraBand elastic resistance bands (Lee et al. 2015).
Although there were no significant differences in the subjects’ age, height, weight and body mass index, the results did show significant differences between the groups in regards to pain intensity. These findings suggest that the performance of hip exercises by chronic low back pain patients with lumbar instability is more effective than conventional therapy reducing low back pain and levels of disability (Lee et al. 2015).
Basically, increasing hip range of motion and strength helps alleviate chronic low back pain, consistent with the stability/mobility continuum. There you have it.
For a list of hip exercises to improve strength and range of motion, head over to the TheraBand Academy!
Lee SW et al 2015. Effects of hip exercises for chronic low-back pain patients with lumbar instability. J Phys Ther Sci 27(2):345-8