Do you have a “snapping hip,” or a hip that frequently pops? Worse yet, do you feel as if your low-back is always tight? And no matter how much you stretch, push, or pull nothing seems to change?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these, hopefully I can add some clarification. I’m going to outline some basic anatomy, biomechanics, etc. and illustrate the “how” and “why” behind muscle imbalances and joint dysfunction. Feel free to skip down to the next section if this bores you!
First and foremost, we all come in different shapes and sizes; and though we all have anatomical (bone, muscle, joint) similarities, issues like: previous injuries, lifestyle, body weight etc. tend to HEAVILY influence the way we move. So keep in mind that everyone uses a different “strategy” to move, breath, and hold themselves up against gravity – there is no “one size fits all” exercise.
The lumbopelvic-hip complex is anything but simple. It’s comprised of the Sacrum, ilium (two), femoral-acetabulumn (two), and the last five vertebrae of your spine (lumbar).
The irony is that our lumbar spine is designed to be strong and supportive, while our femoral-acetabular joints (hip joints) are designed to be strong, mobile, and flexible – their structure is very similar to the shoulder, ball-in-socket joint.
The point is, over time, due to lifestyle and previous injuries, we become extremely limited with our hip mobility/functionality, and as a result, our body begins to compensate with our low back – typically leading to overuse, injuries/pain.
This is where the vicious cycle begins, are you ready? The muscles that chronically “feel” tight, stiff, etc. are OVERWORKING – and almost always, our response is to stretch, crack, pop, the areas of tightness – because it gives temporary relief… key word being temporary. In short, you are simply perpetuating the cycle. Stretching tight muscles has little long term effect.
Are you starting to see the big picture? As this cycle persists, we create joint-instability and joint dysfunction by OVER STRETCHING and OVER MOBILIZING (popping or cracking) our joints and muscles that are actually designed to be strong.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying stretching is evil and should never be done; however, whether its stretching, foam rolling, or soft tissue release, it must be combined and balanced with muscle re-education/exercise. Otherwise, those same muscles will simply end up “tight” and painful because you have changed the way you move!