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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Surprising Underlying Causes of a Stiff Back

Sep 01, 2014 08:11AM ● By Dr. Robb Blacka

Those that find their lower back is quite stiff in the morning upon wakening or that it is sometimes difficult to stand upright after prolonged sitting in an office chair or car, might be surprised to learn that soreness in the lumbar spine, buttocks or thighs can be caused by the hip joints.

The hip is a key joint in the body and has to move during many functional activities every day. It is comprised of the femur bone, which has a ball at the top, and the socket of the pelvis. It is held in the socket by thick ligaments, a capsule and surrounding musculature, which give it stability while allowing it to move through a large range of motion. It needs to freely move forward, backward and from side-to-side, as well as rotate.

When sitting frequently at a computer, driving or reading, the hip ligaments and surrounding musculature can tighten up over time. A normally active person that does not perform active stretches at home or practice yoga can still experience this tightening of the hips. As the hips get tighter over time, motion decreases and it is more challenging to perform daily activities.

The process also decreases the ability to absorb the shock of weight-bearing activities. This force is now transferred up to the sacroiliac joints and lumbar spine. In addition, when we take a normal step and the hip is tight, excessive force is pulled on the spine. This constant yanking can in turn cause inflammation and irritation of the back, groin, buttocks and thighs.

There are many causes and treatments of back and hip pain. Stretches can help individuals enjoy a more flexible hip and a happier back. If pain is still present, they may want to look at other contributing factors such as posture, excessive weight gain, core strength and stress.

Dr. Robb Blackaby, PT, DPT, ATC, CFMT, is the owner of the Desert Institute of Physical Therapy, in Scottsdale, and offers free initial consultations when mentioning Natural Awakenings magazine. For more information, call 480-998-4848 or visit

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