Mobility for the Lower Back
In our practice, we’re teachers first and foremost. We find ourselves helping patients understand that the joint, muscle, and connective tissue surrounding their hip and pelvis provide them the structure for basic stability and mobility for the lower back. Their ability to hinge and squat are reliant on a hip joint that pushes back while maintaining a stable core – this properly loads the glutes and hamstrings. Ideally, we get patients to do this without much thought.
However, and this may resonate with you – the idea of these movements sometimes scares the hell out of them before we guide them through it.
Mobility describes the range of motion (ROM) of a healthy joint. Stability is your brain’s ability to control that joint throughout your range of motion. The two work unison, not apart. In fact, too much mobility will cause the same amount of pain as too little.
Every joint in your body is designed to move through an optimal range of motion. The inability to reach the full ROM forces other joints to bear more force than intended. Athletes and every day people with hip and hamstring tightness often suffer from low back pain because their hips are unable to push back to their full range. This forces the low back and knees to do more work than they’re intended to do.
Athletes with excessive mobility – i.e. hyper mobility – often suffer from lower back pain because of their inability to control movements at end range. The optimal range of motion in the hip is a neutral spine at the bottom of the squat. In hyper mobile athletes, the hips push past their optimal range, often causing a butt wink leading to increased lower back pain.
The Real Goal
Understanding the basics of mobility and stability goes well beyond just the joints and tissues. Joints with optimal range of motion keep you injury free so you have the ability to experience physical freedom. You work so hard in the gym so you have the capacity to enjoy life. If you don’t know if your mobility and stability scores are optimal, how do you know you’re not just screwing yourself out of that enjoyable life?
Our colleagues at The Low Back Fix wrote an article discussing how the basics of mobility and stability can lead to physical freedom. To view the full article, click here.