Mobility mend for a tight back and hips

Hips tight? Back hurt? It might be your butt muscles.

Remember that song “the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone, the knee bone’s connected to the foot bone… ” and on and on it went? That song taught us as children how our bodies are connected, but sometimes as adults it seems like we forget. When something hurts, is tight or sore, we often only focus on the primary spot, not realizing there are other muscles that can impact how things feel. So if you’ve been mobilizing “all the things” and still can’t find relief, read on to see if tight butt muscles might be the problem!

Just like the joint of your shoulder, your hip joint, pelvis, leg, and the muscles that surround these structures are all dependent on each other.

You have muscles that run from the front to back, from side to side, and if one of those muscles is tighter than the rest (and is never mobilized), it can pull the whole system out of alignment. A lot of people when they have issues in the hips, quads, and hamstrings focus primarily on the leg muscles when they stretch and foam roll. However, by ignoring all the muscles in the “butt” region, they fail to address a huge group of flexors and extensors that can cause anything from low back pain to a strained groin if not cared for on a regular basis.

The piriformis muscle, gluteus maximus, medius, and minumus (and more!) are the muscles that make up what we lovingly refer to as our rear ends.

These muscles get used, A LOT, when exercising. They help us lift and lower our legs, squat, lunge, jump, and just about any other movement you can think of involving the lower body- exactly why they need to be mobilized for maximum performance and injury prevention.

One of the best things a person can do to manage these highly used muscles is to sit on a lacrosse ball, ideally for a minimum of at least 10 seconds (because that’s about how long it takes for your stretch receptors to “let go” and relax) and up to 2 minutes. When starting out, most people who have never done this before find it very uncomfortable, so be warned it may hurt a bit- but that’s how you know what you’ve been missing!


From a seated position on the floor, place the ball underneath you, in the fleshy part of your butt cheek, and roll around till you find a sore spot. Stay there for as long as you can tolerate. Cross the opposite leg over the knee of the side being mobilized to increase intensity (which is ideally where a person ends up once they start doing these exercises consistently).

Try doing this exercise every time you mobilize (so in a perfect world 5-7 days A WEEK) and see what a difference sitting on a ball can make! Here is an additional video link too to help you on your way…

My mission is to help everyone I can become the healthiest, strongest versions of themselves. I am a Crossfit coach, athlete, Health and Nutrition coach, Movement Rehab Specialist, and a grad student completing my masters in Kinesiology with a focus on integrative wellness.

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