Why Are Your Hips Tight & What Can You Do About It? 

Recently there has been an influx in hip pain and hip issues coming into the office. They aren’t one of the most common injuries in chiropractic and sports medicine offices, but they do occur and are never fun for patients to deal with. From tendonitis, to joint pain, to sprains and strains, hip pain can be an annoying issue to deal with. 

Obviously surrounding musculature and hip function plays a role, but all too frequently tight muscles are blamed as the sole problem. Usually the assumed culprit is “tight hamstrings” or “tight hips”, and for far too long patients were sent home with the same protocol. They were told to static stretch, ice and or heat the area, and rest. Sometimes this helps but it never gets to the root of the issue, and due to this that pain can return when you go back to your regular activities. 

At Ridge Rehab and Chiropractic, we try to answer 3 major questions: 

  1. Is any of the surrounding musculature actually tight?
  2. What exactly is tight?
  3. Why are they tight? 

Hip Anatomy and Morphology

The anatomy and skeletal shape of the hip is a big reason for some of the confusion around hip tightness. The hip is what is known as a ball and socket joint. We have seen a skeleton, the ball is attached to the neck of the femur that sits in the “cup” shaped socket in the pelvis. What is under-appreciated is how different the shape, depth, location of that cup, and angle of the femoral neck can be. This variation we see can cause the “neutral” position of the hip to be very different from patient to patient. For example, someone with a deeper, and more forward facing cup may not have a ton of outward hip movement. Is this a tight hip? Or is that a hip that just isn’t naturally good at moving a certain direction? All the stretching in the world won’t change that. To make things EVEN MORE complicated, it is extremely common for the skeletal shape and positioning of these joints to be asymmetrical! 

On top of the joint we have the thick capsule of ligaments wrapped around the whole area to add even more stability to the joint. All of these variables can play a role in the available passive and active range of motion, which can in turn create the illusion of “tight” or “loose” hips. 

When true “tight hips” can exist

All of this is not to say tight hips don’t or can’t exist. As mentioned earlier, skeletal orientation can create certain range of motion restrictions or even pain. We can also get soft tissue changes to the hip joint depending on what our activities of daily living look like. One of the most common reasons we see muscular tension changes are due to high amounts of sitting down. In this day and age, we spend a lot of time on our butts. From eating, driving, sitting at our desks for work, we spend a lot of time in the same seated position. 

Another common cause is overtraining or not having enough variation in our workouts. Many active individuals don’t have enough variety when they are in the gym. We tend to do what we like and what comes naturally to us, so it’s easy to fall into the trap of not training what needs to be trained. 

How to combat tight hips

This may come as a shock, but the answer is not to do “sit and reach” stretches for days on end. Yes, mobility exercises are going to be helpful, but they should be active and movement based. Strengthening is usually the route to go down for help. If sustained postures or repetitive movements are the reason for your tight hips, strengthening the hip and regaining hip function is going to be the answer. A good assessment and exam is needed to find the true cause, but a few of the top hip exercises we use are: 

Side bridge variations – The gluteus medius is frequently involved in hip issues, especially in rotational athletes. Everyday life rarely takes us in any side to side movements, and even amongst gym goers the lateral chain is often neglected. Side bridges are great exercise to target different aspects of the hip, (and entire lateral chain), and are easily progressed or regressed depending on what patients are ready for. When a patient masters the traditional side bridge, most “PT” clinics move on to another hip drill. For us, once you’ve mastered the traditional side bridge, the fun just begun. Our creative and highly effective modifications of the side bridge have helped hundreds of rotational athletes for over 7 years. 

Park Ridge Chiropractor | Side Bridge Variations For Lateral Stability | Mobility And Stability #6

Copenhagen Planks – This is a similar story to the side bridges. Our hip adductors are the muscles that squeeze our knees together. Unless you still have your Thighmaster from the 80s, we don’t do a ton of squeezing movements regularly. The adductor groups being used less and avoidance on strengthening the groins have played a huge role in the groin strains we see in our patients.. 

2 great examples to read up on are this study by Thorborg et al in 2014. They looked at male soccer athletes both with and without groin pain. Those with groin pain were found to have increased weakness in eccentric hip adductor strength in the kicking leg.

Bourne et al in 2019 found that 204 elite level soccer who had higher hip adduction strength had lower odds of suffering a future hip or groin injury. 

Many studies have confirmed the correlation of weak adductor and groin injuries, so these really should be part of any athlete’s routine. 

Hip mobility exercises – Active mobility exercises can be helpful. Sometimes the hip tightness issue can be helped by more movement or novel neurologic input. Sometimes we need to work dissociation of the hip from the low back. Sometimes we need to mobilize the hip in a different direction. Regardless of this reason, mobility exercises (note: different from static stretching), are commonly part of hip rehab. Usually this includes some form of active and triplanar movements working in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes. 

Park Ridge Chiropractor | Hip Homework | Mobility And Stability Tips #7

As I mentioned earlier, a proper assessment is key for any hip issue. If you, or someone you know is struggling with constant tight hips, then we have some good news for you. Our office can help identify and treat tight hips, so that you can continue to do what you love and get out of pain. 

Do this next:

“Share” this post with with anyone you know who may be dealing with hip tightness or hip injuries If you or anyone you know is dealing with hip pain, contact our office today to schedule your Complimentary consultation! 

(Due to the increased demand, we are only accepting 5 requests. Don’t delay getting your appointment booked.)

Schedule Today at Ridge-rehab.com, or by calling 847.796.0224!

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Low Back Pain

One of the most simple and important roles a chiropractor can fill is giving advice on how to manage low back pain. As with any injury scenario, there are do’s and don’ts that will help recovery along

One of the largest hospital groups in the UK put together this great guide on the do’s and don’ts of low back pain. It was made utilizing information from Dr Derek Griffin, and professor Peter O’Sullivan, who have played huge roles in the way pain is thought about, and how we should be communicating it to our patients.

The guide consists of 5 do’s and 5 don’ts.

The Do’s include: Know your pain is real, stay active, sit and move in a variety of ways, focus on meaningful activities, maintain your social relationships.

The Don’ts consist of: blaming yourself or fighting your pain, assume long lasting pain means damage, panic if you have a flare up, believe everything your hear or read, and rely on scans and imaging to tell you you’re whole story.

These facts are organized and expanded on in the full guide, but these are topics addressed every day and every week at Ridge Rehab. This short list alone is valuable information for anyone to know. Even if you are not currently dealing with pain or an injury, it’s likely you will at some point in the future. Keeping this info in mind will help.

If you or anyone you know need help, contact us at 847-796-0224 or visit us to schedule online at https://www.ridge-rehab.com!

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To read the guide, find it here.

Good Stress, Bad Stress, And Pain

Patients are often surprised to hear just how much of a factor various stressors can play in back pain and chronic pain. Yes, movement and musculoskeletal issues are commonly involved. However, they aren’t the only contributors when it comes to pain.

Anything from a poor sleep schedule, job dissatisfaction, too much or too little exercise, to a bad diet, and many others – one or more of these oftentimes correlate with back pain. These do need to be addressed if possible.

Confusingly, too little stress is also a situation we want to avoid. This infographic from @precisionnutrition does a great job of describing a “stress sweet spot”.

What Is SI Joint Pain?

What is SI joint Pain? Proper diagnosis is always important for treatment of low back pain. One of the sources often blamed for low back pain is the Sacroiliac Joint, or SI Joint. You can feel or see the general area of this joint on many people by finding the dimples on the low back.

The main function of the SI joint is shock absorption for the spine. It also absorbs and transfers force from lower body up into the trunk. When the SI joint is involved in low back pain, it is often from inside the joint itself, or from irritation of the thick dorsal sacroiliac ligament lying over the top of it.

Pain is most commonly felt at or below L5 area, but can also be felt in the gluteal region. Pain can radiate down the leg, but is different from sciatica in that it isn’t felt below the knee. This pain is usually one sided, and is generally painful going from sitting to standing.

Treatment involves stabilization exercises and focusing on hip and low back.

While low back pain is very common, it is always better to be properly assessed by a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist to be sure of the cause. Have a professional rule out red flags, treat and monitor symptoms, and help you modify daily activities.

Make an appointment today at ridge-rehab.com if you or anyone you know needs any help!

Nerve Pain & Numbness and Tingling

Nerve pain is an interesting issue to treat. While it can be one of the more intense types of pain, it can have different reasons for occuring.

This infographic comes from the book Sticks and Stones by DPT’s Jim Heafner and Jarod Hall.

Most have heard of the “clogged artery” analogy in cases of atherosclerosis, and a similar idea can happen to nerves and be involved in nerve pain.

“The clogged artery analogy isn’t too different than what occurs in nerve pain, such as sciatica or carpal tunnel syndrome. Similar to how a blocked artery has limited blood flow due to plaque buildup, a nerve can have limited oxygen because of extra compression or tension. The brain’s response to limited oxygen in a nerve is typically numbness, burning or a tingling sensation. These symptoms indicate that the nerve is angry. In this instance, the nerve will notify the brain regarding the potential danger or alteration from homeostasis. In the short term, changing positions and putting less stress on that body part are great strategies to temporarily unclog the nerve. To maintain healthy nerves in the long term, keeping a close eye on your nutrition, exercise and environmental factors are key. Just as these factors impact the health of your arteries, they also affect your brain and nerves.”

More often than not, nerve pain responds well to movement and exercise. This oxygenation may be a mechanism for why that is true. We need to keep this idea in mind when treating nerve pain, and numbness and tingling.

Desk Stretches For Neck Pain

Neck pain can get in the way of work, especially when we’re stuck at a desk for long periods of time – Desk stretches are here to save the day. Today’s video focuses on a few ways to get out of the seated “desk” and “computer posture” that many people are in for most of the day. Desk stretches are easy and simple ways to add some variety to your positions while working. While there is no one *best* posture, variability in the positions we spend time in is helpful in avoiding neck pain, and other aches and pains.

These are some common desk stretches I have patients leave the office with and perform as homework. They are quick and easy movements that can be done right at your desk, and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes for a few sets of 10-15. Over time, these can be progressed to place more demand on the neck muscles and shoulders, but the ones shown in the video are a great place to start. I have patients stuck in this posture try to shoot for a set of 10-15 every 1-4 hours that they are seated.

Thanks for reading — Dr. Ryan Gavin

Chiropractor in Park Ridge IL

Don’t let neck pain hold you back! Schedule your new patient visit with us and get the relief you deserve today by calling 847-796-0224 or visit us to schedule online at https://www.ridge-rehab.com!​ Follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

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What Do Findings On X-Rays And MRIs Actually Mean?

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What do findings on X-rays and MRIs actually mean? While imaging is helpful and definitely needed at times, the radiologic reports can often sound scarier than the process that is actually occurring.

As imaging techniques have advanced, healthcare professionals have fallen into a pattern of labelling normal tissue changes as problematic or unhealthy. For example, “degenerative disc disease”, certain types of “arthritic” changes, etc, are normal occurrences as we age and aren’t always related to pain.

Many of these types of changes are now being thought of as “wrinkles on the inside”. The well known biomechanics researcher Stu McGill has a quote – “a degenerative disc disease diagnosis is the equivalent of telling your mother in law that she has degenerative face disease” Keep this in mind the next time you or anyone you know encounter this, and make sure to see an optimistic medical professional who can properly interpret the situation for you

Disc Pain Mechanisms, Anatomy, And Treatment

What Are Intervertebral Discs? 

Disc pain is one of the most common issues Chiropractors treat, but most of the time patients are unaware of what it means. We all know what the spine looks like – a stacked column of vertebrae that flexes, extends, side bends, and rotates. Between each vertebra sits a cushion of cartilage and protein known as the intervertebral disc. 

These act as shock absorbers for the spine. Discs absorb the impact of various movements and activities like running, bending, lifting, jumping, etc. They also absorb forces from sustained positions like sitting at a desk, or standing for long periods of time. 

Why They Can Cause Pain 

To get a little bit more specific about disc pain and disc anatomy, there is an outer portion of fibrous layers known as the annulus fibrosis and a soft, toothpaste-like inner portion called the nucleus pulposus. Disc Injuries can occur when this inner material is pushed or forced through the outer layers. 

When this happens, it can cause pain as well as place pressure on nearby nerve roots causing radiating pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling. These injuries can be due to reasons such as trauma, repetitive movements, poor loading strategies, or certain sustained positions. The classification of disc injury depends on the position of that nucleus material, how much “break through” of that material has occurred, and the condition of the outer fibers. While disc pain can be very painful, they are also usually one of the quicker recoveries as far as back injuries go. 

How Disc Pain Is Treated

Usually the treatment for disc issues involve specific exercises and loading the spine into its end range, as well as performing home exercises and temporarily avoiding certain positions. 

Although painful, surgery is often times unnecessary for disc pain. While there may be certain severe cases where it’s needed, conservative care is helpful a majority of the time. It is important to note that there is also evidence that when parts of the disc are surgically removed, it ends up causing accelerated arthritic changes to the area down the line. 

Important Points On Disc Pain

  • Discs don’t “slip”. It has been described to patients incorrectly for too long, and has contributing to a fragile view of the human body and spine. 
  • Disc findings on X-rays or MRI’s will not ALWAYS cause symptoms. In fact, most healthy adults have the above symptoms going on in our bodies and never even know it. 
  • The body is known to resorb disc material that has been pushed through the outer layers. This means that although it may be a painful issue, the body will often break down that material causing pain over time. 
  • See a professional if you are worried or experiencing pain. While I hope I have expressed here that disc issues are normal and common occurrences, you do want low back and radiating pain assessed by a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist. More often than not, low back pain, is fairly simple to treat. However, you do want to be sure of the cause, and have a professional rule out red flags, treat and monitor symptoms like weakness, numbness, and tingling, and help you modify home exercises and daily activities. 

If you think you or anyone you know are dealing with low back pain, we are more than happy to help at Ridge Rehab and Chiropractic. Schedule an appointment today at Ridge-rehab.com or by calling 847-796-0224.


1. Ju, K. (2020). “What’s a slipped disc?” Spine-Health. Retrieved January 2021 from https://www.spine-health.com/blog/what-s-slipped-disc

2. How does the spine work? (2019). Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Retrieved January 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279468/

3. Bridwell, K. “Intervertebral discs.” Spineuniverse. Retrieved January 2021 from https://www.spineuniverse.com/anatomy/intervertebral-discs

4. Roberts S, Evans H, Trivedi J, Menage J. (2006). Histology and pathology of the human intervertebral disc. J Bone Joint Surg Am. Suppl 2:10-4. 

5. McHugh, B. (2017). “What is degenerative disc disease?” Spine-Health. Retrieved January 2021 from spine-health.com/conditions/degenerative-disc-disease/what-degenerative-disc-disease

6. “Lumbar herniated disc: Should I have surgery?” University of Michigan – Michigan Medicine. Retrieved January 2021 from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/aa6282

7. Herniated disk. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/herniated-disk/symptoms-causes/syc-20354095

8. Williams, F.M.K., et al. (2007). Schmorl’s nodes: Common, highly heritable, and related to lumbar disc disease. Arthritis Care & Research. 57(5): 855-860.

9.Thanks to Chiropractic Success Academy

Low Back Exercise Routine

Low back exercise is something we regularly focus on at Ridge Rehab and Chiropractic.

Nowadays, we spend a lot of time stuck in the same positions throughout the day and throughout the week… Seated or standing for hours at a work station, seated behind the wheel driving, lying in bed at night, etc. This lack of movement and changing of positions can occasionally lead to muscle stiffness, soreness, or even pain. Low back exercises, like the ones in the video can be valuable in situations like this.

Adding some novel movements and low back exercise into your daily routine and working through different ranges of motion are generally what our body likes. Also, it’s good for limiting aches and pains. When it comes to low back pain, the treatment goal is generally to get out of pain and performing exercise again. Some of this routine can be helpful in those situations as well. They are great for showing patients, (and the nervous system), that movement is safe. These aren’t meant to be exhausting but these are simple ways to get the low back, abdomen, and hips working and moving.

Try it out!

Schedule today at the link above, or call us for more information at 847-796-0224.

Core Exercises or “Anti” Core Exercises?

Today’s video focuses on pallof press variations for training the core and spinal stability – AKA “Anti” Core Exercises.

I’ve discussed before how much I love the pallof press. A big reason is due to the anti-rotational nature of them. Because of this, it a safe core exercise and usually it’s tolerable to do even when you’re in some pain.

The “Anti” in this case refers to the concept of using core exercises that resist movement through the trunk by bracing. Anatomically, the lumbar spine does a few things: flexes forward, extends back, side-bends, and rotates.

Since the main job of our “core” is resisting movement, training anti-flexion, anti-extension, anti-lateral flexion, and anti-rotation are simple, safe, and effective core exercises. Although strengthening isn’t a cure all, “you can’t go wrong getting strong” does often hold true when it comes to preventing and calming down back pain.

Thanks for reading – Dr. Ryan Gavin, Park Ridge Chiropractor

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