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A common dysfunctional pattern for hip and lower pain is overuse and tightness of the gluteal muscles at the back of the hip. This pattern can be seen as a deep concavity in the sides of the buttocks when standing relaxed (as shown – red lines).
This tightness changes the way the ball and socket joint of the hip moves, compressing the front of the joint which predisposes to a variety of hip complaints. The figure 4 exercise helps to “open up” the back of the hip, reducing compression and restoring proper muscle balance and movement.
Figure 4 exercise for hip pain relief:
- Set up as shown: Hips and shoulders square. Front shin parallel to shoulders (or as close as possible). If you have difficulty laying the shin flat place a pillow under the knee for support. Support on hands (beginner) or elbows (advanced). Spine straight.
- It is likely that you will not achieve the ideal position immediately. The goal will be to move towards ideal positioning during the stretch or over the coming weeks.
- You should feel a deep stretch on the outside on the buttock on the side of the forward shin.
This exercise can be made more challenging by slowly reaching one hand (the side of your forward leg) forward and backwards. You should feel this intensify the stretch in the buttock. Repeat 10-15 times.
This exercise can be made easier by placing the front shin higher (or a sofa or table) and then supporting on the back knee or foot.
In patients with very tight hips, performing self-massage or self-myofascial release before the stretch can make it easier to achieve the correct stretch position.
- Place a massage ball on the floor.
- Cross the leg to be worked on over the opposite knee and place the ball under your buttock.
- Roll over the ball until you reach a tender point deep in the gluteus muscles, and then hold this position for around 60 seconds or until the tenderness eases.
- Roll further along the glut muscle until you fine another tender spot and repeat the process.
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‘Figure 4 Exercise for Hip Pain Relief’ was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more infomation about Steffen click here.