As we age, our bodies sometimes start to show their age. Bones and joints lose mobility as we grow older, and as a result, we’re more prone to pain and injury. While some of us might be able to ignore a minor ache or stiffness from time to time, others are dealing with more persistent problems. If you’re one of the unlucky ones dealing with chronic pain and hip or lower back pain, you know how difficult it can be to stay on top of things.
These two injuries are extremely common, and they both stem from the same source: overuse. In this article, we’ll take a look at the primary causes of these conditions, as well as some effective ways to prevent them.
What is Hip Pain?
Hip pain can be a result of a number of things, but the primary causes are overuse and trauma. Overuse can be caused by a number of factors, including poor posture, muscle imbalance, and genetics. When we sit for long periods of time, our hips flexed forward, putting increased pressure on the pelvis, along with the spinal joints, SI Joints, and ligaments that support it.
This is especially problematic if you’re experiencing hip pain accompanied by swelling or inflammation. Trauma can also cause hip pain, as injuries to the hip can impact the surrounding musculature and nearby structures.
What is Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain is the result of problems in the lower back. The back itself is a complex series of bones, muscles, and ligaments, and when these are injured, the pain and inflammation can travel through the spine. Lower back pain can be the result of genetics, muscle imbalances, poor posture, and large gut. As with hip pain, sitting is a primary cause of lower back pain, plus poor postural habits such as slouching and hunching over are also contributors.
Symtopms of lower back and hip pain from sitting
Soreness: When the hip joints become inflamed, they can become extremely sore. The muscles surrounding the joints can become extremely sore as well, making it difficult to sit comfortably.
Pain: When the muscles surrounding the hip joint become inflamed, they can cause severe pain. This type of pain is also known as “tendon pain,” as it stems from the tissue that connects your muscles to your tendons.
Stiffness: The muscles surrounding the hip joint can become over-tensioned and secrete small tears in their fibers. When this happens, it can cause a feeling of stiffness in the joint.
Pins and needles: Because the nerves that supply feeling and pain signals travel through the hip joints, they can be pinched or compressed during movement. This can cause a tingling or numbness in the leg.
The Causes of lower back and hip pain from sitting
When we sit for too long, our muscles get short, which can lead to inflammation and pain. The muscles around the hip and lower back become tight, which can make them more prone to injury. The two most common causes of hip and lower back pain are overuse and trauma.
- Poor Sitting Posture
The cause of poor sitting posture is a mix of poor form and muscle weakness. Poor sitting posture is usually the result of not using muscles that normally support sitting. For example, the abdominal muscles normally help to keep the spine straight when the person is standing or walking.
When the core muscles are weak, they have a tendency to cramp, causing the spine to round forward. Another common cause of poor sitting posture is the inability to “sit tall.” When a person feels that they are sitting too low, they may tend to arch their lower back in an attempt to make themselves feel taller. This, in turn, makes the lower back shorter and weaker.
- Tight Hip Flexors
The muscles that flex the hip are the hamstrings, which are a part of the buttocks. The other major muscle is the quadriceps, which are part of the thigh. The rectus femoris is the outermost thigh muscle and the iliococcygeus is the inner thigh muscle. Both of these are located in the pelvis and when they are tight, they can cause hip flexor symptoms, which include upper back pain, buttock pain and thigh pain.
- Previous Injury to Lower Back or Hip
When the hip or lower back is injured, the body tries to protect this area by surrounding it with scar tissue. This can cause pain when the muscles around the joints contract, which happens when we sit. One study found that people who sit the most have the highest levels of scar tissue in the lumbar spine.
- Osteoarthritis of the Knee or Hips
As we age, the cartilage in the joints of the body starts to degenerate. This cartilage provides a smooth surface for the bones to rub against each other, which helps to reduce friction. As people age, the collagen and elasticity in the joints decrease, which can lead to osteoarthritis. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage degenerates faster than the body’s ability to generate new cartilage. While osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, it is more common in the hip, shoulder and knee joints.
- Overuse Injury
Overuse injuries are common among athletes who engage in endurance or strength-building activities. These activities put pressure on the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the body, causing them to become overused and inflamed. When people spend long hours sitting on these ligaments and muscles, they are at risk of developing an overuse injury.
Overuse can be caused by a number of factors, including poor posture, muscle imbalance, and genetics. When we sit for long periods of time, our hips flexed forward, putting increased pressure on the pelvis, along with the spinal joints, SI Joints, and ligaments that support it. This is especially problematic if you’re experiencing hip pain accompanied by swelling or inflammation. Trauma can also cause hip pain, as injuries to the hip can impact the surrounding musculature and nearby structures.
How to Prevent Hip and Back Pain from sitting
If you’re dealing with a chronic hip or lower back pain, it’s important to understand the primary causes. To prevent these injuries, you’ll need to:
- Recognize when you’re sitting too long and take short breaks throughout the day
- Try not to sit with your back against a wall or in an armchair
- Get up and move around every 30 minutes
- Strengthen your core and abdominal muscles while standing or while doing household chores
- Practice good posture while sitting and while standing
Exercise to Prevent Hip and Back Pain from sitting
Lowered back injuries happen when we sit for too long and our muscles get short. To prevent this, you’ll want to incorporate plenty of stretching and strengthening exercises into your routine. Here are two you can do while on the phone or doing other tasks:
- Kneel on the ground with your arms extended overhead
- Keep your back straight, and slowly rock your upper body from side to side
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and put your hands on your hips
- Keeping your back straight, slowly rock your hips from side to side
- Do these exercises for 30 seconds, three times a day
Strengthening Exercises for Both Your Hips and Your Lower Back
The glutes and hamstrings are the primary muscles activated when we stand and walk, and they provide support for your back and lower extremities. Many people overlook these muscles while strengthening exercises are concerned, but they’re essential for preventing lower back pain.
- Strengthening your glutes and hamstrings will help you
- Hold your sitting posture while using the right muscles
- Improve your balance
- Prevent injury.
The more active you are, the less strain your muscles will take. The key is to stay active without overdoing it. If you have chronic symptoms, it’s best to take it slow. Don’t try to do too much too soon. Work your way up to an appropriate level of activity over the course of several weeks. If you’re dealing with a acute flare-up, you can also try these simple stretches.
Couch stretch: Sit on the couch or in a chair with good posture (slightly upright with your back and neck in a neutral position). Keeping your thighs and feet flat on the ground, lean your torso as far forward as you can. Hold for 15-30 seconds, and repeat 4-6 times.
Hip Flexor stretch: This stretch is for the muscles in your hips. From a standing position, flex your hips and reach your hands toward your toes. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat 4-6 times.
Back extension: From a seated position, slowly raise your back up toward the ceiling. Flex your body as you do this, and hold for 15-30 seconds. Relax your back as you lower back to the ground, and repeat 4-6 times.