Are You a Hippy or a Superhero?

By Ross Ashcraft

Are you a hippy?  You may be one and not know it!  Your hips may be the cause of your pain.  You don’t know it, because you think the problem is in your back.

Many people have back pain and seek relief for their discomfort by pursuing treatments that are not really addressing their problem.  They receive only temporary relief because their problems is not in their back.  In fact their pain is just showing up in their back because the bones and muscles in their hips are angry or possibly out of place.

The BEST solution to pains caused by the hips or glutes is to find a massage therapist.  They have the best access to tools and the leverage to provide the best attention to those muscles. 

First Step:  Assessment 

Let’s figure out if the hip or gluteal muscles are the problem.

1.  Find a small firm ball and sit on it. 

2.  Move it gently all around the area.  Move it up from your leg all the way to your tail bone; and from there to the top of the hip. 

3.  If this initiates “the” pain in your back, then you have found the problem area that is negatively affecting your back.  Even if this causes minimual pain, then you probably have a problem that is at least contributing to your back pain. 

4.  If your hip or Gluteal muscles are healthy then you should feel nothing beyond the normal discomfort of sitting on something awkward. 

Second Step:  Self-Massage

1.  You’ll need to acquire a couple of balls of various sizes and thicknesses:  tennis balls, rubber balls, baseballs, bowling balls…etc.

2.  Choose the softest and sit on it in a comfortable chair.  Shift it to any tender area you may find.  If you’re a He-Man or She-Ra then use your own judgment and put a harder ball in its place.

3.  Take a breath and let your body sink into it. 

4.  Once the muscle has relaxed, gently raise your whole leg and hold for 5 seconds—you may leave your knee bent

5.  Rest for 5 seconds

6.  Raise your whole leg again and then move it in clockwise circles for 5 seconds

7.  Reverse directions and move in counter-clockwise circles for 5 seconds

8.  Lower your leg and rest

9.  Shift the ball to a different spot or put on your superhero cloths and replace with a harder ball and repeat steps 3 through 8

Good work!  I know that was tough.  Try this technique over multiple days and let me know what you think.

138 thoughts on “Are You a Hippy or a Superhero?”

  1. This is so simple and amazing. I was really surprised by the effectiveness of using a ball. Self-massage with a little knowledge is wonderful.

  2. OMG Ross I am a hippy. A few weeks ago you taught us how to do the glutes & that really seemed to work on me especially after having my kids. It works wonders for the glutes.

  3. Ok this one really is not that pleasant, I will keep on this for a few more days. It was however interesting that yes most folks think it is the back and it ended up that no it was the hip.

  4. Well I already knew that I would have the problem with my back. The self assessment confirmed that. The self-massage was different. It was pretty easy to do. Self-massage is always beneficial, like Becca said, with a little knowledge.

  5. I find it intriging that whatever has been posted recenly, I have just dealt with a situation simular. I explained to one client (who is basically very modest) that I may have to work in the gluteal sections to see if it caused any “flinching” indicating a sciatic, or lower lumbar problem. She agreed and the next time she was in she was already feeling better because it was a lower lumbar pain. Thank you for the confirmations! Seems as though I speak more about tennis ball treatment at home, as well as the DEEP breathing. Thank you Ross.

  6. I have a lot of back pains and would really like to try this out. You would think that since I have a kid there would be a ball somewhere in my house, but it turns out we dont have any.

  7. I love this one…I have hip issues and this self massage was a great way to hlep eleviate some of the pain….it was one of those hurt so good situations. I am going to continue doing this and see how much total differnce I can make.

  8. Ok just to know that the pain in my back could have been caused by my hips is what got me at first sight. Its a wonder how so many different areas can cause pain in just one area that seems to have nothing to do with the other. I am going to continue this for a couple days just to get a great feel for this self massage.

  9. I have tried this before it kind of worked, I could not tell completely. It did feel good on my lower back just to use on it.

  10. This technique is so helpful. I have a friend that has been having issues with his back and I went through the steps with him and he has seen a dramatic improvement in his legs and back. His hip was popping alot and it has relieved the popping as well. Thank you!!!

  11. I had fallen down a flight of 12 concrete steps on a stairway yesterday, and hurt my hip, my leg, my ankle, my foot, and my toes. So doing this, really Hurt.

  12. This worked very well for my girlfriend, who suffers from low back pain,,,, she likes using the ball the best,,, seens to be working ! These weer great tips for lower back pain. And myself and my girlfriend will continue using this in the future.

  13. I actually tried this technique over the weekend. I can actually say that it works. I loved working with the various size balls that I had. I mostly used my tennis ball and a couple of rubber balls. This technique really does work. 😀

  14. Looks like its time to go shopping for some balls…haha I am excited to try this technique out cause I do have the pain. Thanks!

  15. I don’t really have issues with these, but my question is after the lab demo yesterday in lab, my whole body was just achy, I feel better already, could it have been too much pressure the girls used during the glute massage? I know that sounds weird but I also know everythings connected…question mark

  16. I think my problem is in my Gluteal muscles, I have started running daily recently so that might be some of the cause of it. This technique has seemeded to be helping my lower back pain so far.

  17. I usually have lower back aches… This self massage helped. My boyfriend even did it & said it helped him as well.

  18. I would love to find a way to get rid of my nagging little lower back pain. If this shows me that the problem is somewhere else, then I may be able to get rid of it.

  19. I think this is a great technique and can be very beneficial for self massage and great homework for clients. Thank you.

  20. It’s amazing what we learn with a click of a button. I have had lower back pain for years.I had no idea it was caused by your hips. The exercise looks simple,I can’t wait to try it.

  21. I have had some issues with my hips and lower back and doing the exercise has loosened me up a little. I’m still tight on my right side, but I notice a difference. I used the small ball and I will try to use the bigger one that I have.

  22. This was agonizing for me, but it is a necessary evil, just like working on my iliacus, it is sore but I know all of this work will be well worth it in the end. I don’t know if I could do this everyday, but I will try at leat every other day so I can at leat see if I feel a change in the pain scale.

  23. Oh, wow! That hurts as much as it feel good. I needed the exercise when I had my car wreck. It sure worked out my sciatic. Thank you.

  24. I have been using this technique on my mom. she has a bad sciatic nerve and this technique is helping her a great deal thanks!!

  25. i really liked this one, my hips are horrible. i tried 3 different size balls and the intensity was different for each one. it felt great though. i am definitely going to keep doing this one

  26. I had learned of the ball trick from a chiropractor several years ago. It really does help doing the self massage.

  27. No back problems. The self massage did feel really good, though. Approximately two yeas ago I incorporated a similar routine in my fitness regimen.

  28. I have tried this before and just tried it again and I have no pain in the glute area, just the awkwardness of sitting on a tennis ball. It was a nice way to have the area worked a little though.

  29. I have tried this technique before and i did not really care for it. I thought it was very awkward, but that was before i knew anything about self massage. I have learned by experience that that awkward feeling is very beneficial and I personally really like this technique now. I would definitely recommend it to someone with back pain. Thanks!

  30. I have a lot of pain in my hips, and for the life of me can not pin point on where it is coming from, because I also have a bad knee, which is probably contributing to my hip pain. I have tried the ball technique, and it did nothing for me. I hope to find some relief soon!!!!

  31. I don’t have a lot of balls floating around my house. I guess I’ll just have to get my classmates to work on my gluteal muscles.

  32. I have tried this technique before and at first it is a little tender but when it starts to sink into the muscle it feels a lot better. If I ever work out my butt I tried to do a technique similar to this. Helps relieve tension!

  33. Ross,

    I have to face the facts…..I have to just have a massage every night. I got pain every where! (I do want you to know I am taking your advice and doing the techniques too though)

  34. This was really uncomfortable for me. I know my hips are tight, and it causes a lot of other things to be tight. I will try this and see if it helps release some of the tightness in my hips.

  35. This area is always tender for me but I never feel it until it is being massaged. I need to start doing this more often.

  36. I found that my back pains are in Gluteals. During lab in class, I partnered up with a student and she worked on my back and I told her that I have bad back pain sometimes and I showed her where it was hurting, it was relatively close to my glutes and when she pressed on the spot where I shown her, she immediately went to my glutes and put her loose fist in the maximus and WOW so much pain! I felt like I was sore or something, she then used her elbow and after 2 minutes or more, I totally forgot about my back pain because it was not there! Love glute massages!

  37. ugh….this is another technique that hurts but I can really benefit from using it routinely. This technique will for sure be one that I will share with my clients. Thanks Ross

  38. I really need to try this technique. I think using a tennis ball would feel great and really dig into those tender spots. Foam rolling is also another good tool to use that lets you sink into those tender spots in the glute muscles.

  39. I have tried this before but never really liked it that much… I think for me I didn’t get any relief out of this technique, but everyone is different.

  40. I will try this this weekend, because I do have a lot of lower back pain. So this will be good to do so I know if I am a hippy.

  41. I have a long drive to come to school. This morning I used two tennis balls, which I placed one under my “butt” and the other one on my lower back, opposite side. It was a great thing to do. My lower back pain improved 80{dd4fd4792e0eb33cfcd896730531ad5ee27f408bd2ce28da7f8125f8188131a8}. I will keep doing it. It works. Thanks

  42. Well I don’t have back pain but sitting on the tennis ball I have to say I found out that I have some very tender spots in my glutes and this technique worked but I also do this with my foam roller but I guess not enough.

  43. For the first exercise I did feel a tender spot on my left mid glute but it didn’t trigger any back pain for me leaving it there for an extended period of time.For the second exercise I didn’t have more than one ball so I just used empty bottle of medications and sat on them. Rather uncomfortable and annoying 🙁 .

  44. I have a lot of pain in my hips because they like to pop in and out of socket some times.But when I do my stretches it helps a lot. With the ball test I found that not only my glutes are bothering but my hams are to.

  45. These techniques work great for athletes in the field. However, it’s always better to have a partner to help.

  46. I do have pain in my hips, especially today after doing the techniques we did in lab this morning..I will however try these ideas, and teach them to my clients.. thank you Ross!

  47. Oh man, I remember riding in the car with Rosane one afternoon and she had these tennis balls under her bottom and behind her back. I was like what the heck are you doing!!!lol…she said she learned this technique and that she could tell a difference. So since that day, I have acquired some tennis balls and I use them in my chair at home. I don’t think I can get used to them while driving. I tried that and I still feel uncomfortable. So thanks for the lesson, it does work.

  48. My mother had me do something like this. It works wonders and its good to find exactly where the pain is coming from.

  49. i would love to try this but i dont have any balls at my house. we used to have tennis balls somewhere but i think the dogs hid them. hopefully soon i can get some balls and see if some of my occasional back pain is actually being caused by my hips.

  50. This is a great way to find out if your glutes are what’s causing your back pain! When I tried it it was definitely unpleasant but it loosened up after I did the technique. This is yet another great technique to give clients as homework if their glutes are causing their low back pain.

  51. i’m a hippy this HHHUUUURRRT!!! like the time we rolled around on the big white hard foam. My fascia needs help not just in my glutes but in mu adductors because they were really sore.

  52. This self massage technique was awesome. My back is always in constant pain and part of it is because of my bad glute muscles. I plan to use the technique A LOT! I’m excited to see how much it will help in the long run.

  53. I never knew I had an issue with my hips till today with the exercise in class that Ross had us do. I found out that my ASIS were not straight this worried me and I can’t wait to do this when I get home. Thanks again for a great article to better enrich our lives.

  54. I have lower back issues and I find that a glute massage and trigger point helps my lower back more then having a back massage. I have a foam roller at home that really helps but I need to get a tennis ball and try it. Great post

  55. So, I don’t so much have pain in my hips but I beginning to think my hips are not so much in line! I’m excited to try some of these out!

  56. I will have to try this and see what results I get. It seems very interesting. I already know I have hip problems due to my spine not being straight, so maybe this might help with that.

  57. Hmm…. I didn’t know how this would feel and surprisingly it felt nice! My hips always hurt from being on my feet for hours and hours.

  58. I have recently been realizing I need to treat my hip muscles just as much as anything else. This has begun to really help and I have now added it into my nightly stretching routine.

  59. I really like this one. Ever since I was a teenager I have had back problems, so i definitely want to try this.

  60. I love to foam roll my gluts, i tell my clients to use a tennis ball, in the car, or at work even before bed just to help them relax/straighten there muscle.

  61. Self massage is a wonderful tool that everyone should use and incorporating balls and a foam roller makes it that much better. I have been using the tennis ball religiously since being enlightened about it and it has made a world of difference.

  62. My brother-in-law is in town and has been complaining of lower back, and lateral leg pain that extends down into his lateral side of his foot, I am going to give these ideas to him for homework after I work on his S2-S3 areas, and his gluteus medius as well. I am also going to remember the cross pattern syndrome that we learned about this week. I am going to work on his weak side and then move to the tight side, crisscrossing down the body targeting the tight sides. I am also going to use this technique to help with remember to use intervals.

  63. Self massage is an alright technique. Maybe I am doing something wrong, but i don’t feel much better after i massage myself. Its kind of like the difference of giving yourself a pedicure, and paying someone to do it for you. It’s just not the same!

  64. I am truly blessed to have some pretty strong hips. However I am all for advice because I can give it to my future clients.

  65. Yeow! I’m pretty sure any issues I have in my back have their root in my gluteal muscles. Incidentally, thanks to your series of blogs, I am accumulating an impressive collection of balls. Thanks.

  66. I’m going to be honest, this wasn’t pleasant but it did relieve some stress in the lower back. I’ve only done it twice but it is a good article.

  67. I’ve been having a little hip pain lately, I think I’ll try this tonight and let you all know how it goes! I’ve used foam and ball rolling before and although it is extremely painful and uncomfortable, it does have some great benefits.

  68. This is a homework assignment that I give my clients with hip problems. I love the idea of this technique and it works very well especially in those with sciatica.

  69. I am definitely a hippy! I have problems in my right hip and I do some of these exercises which help a lot!

  70. I cannot rule out the conditions of my back being the cause for my back pain my the hip definitely do play a big role in the excessive pain. The ball technique however sounds very soothing, can’t wait to try it.

  71. He-man and she-ra lol showing your age off there Ross. I’ve never had hip problems…..but I suppose it never hurts to provent them

  72. I do have some pain in my lower back and hip on my left side, i will try this at home and see if it helps.

  73. I use the Miracle Balls to help with Piriformis Syndrome and tight glutes. Always taking the time to stretch means less aches and pains later, discipline is the key, but I don’t always do it. Thanks for the info.

  74. I will be trying this very soon because I have lower back pains and after all the massages i have had it really hasn’t changed.

  75. I’m going to have to try this one after my next long car ride. From what we’ve already learned I can only imagine the relief that this brings. I like that you’ve thrown ROM in with the trigger point to take the healing to a whole new level. Good stuff.

  76. My hips always get really tight in the colder months and sometimes stretching isn’t enough this is a great idea to add to my daily routine.

  77. I don’t usually have problems with my hips or lower back but I know a lot of people who do. This is a great simple exercise to give clients as homework.

  78. I have had, and still do somewhat, hip problems and leg problems. I have done the foam rolling but it doesn’t work out my glutes as much as I had thought it would. A smaller object that has a more concentrated feel should help. The tightness usually stays in my glutes or goes down into my hamstrigs, so, I’m very fortunate not to have to deal with lower back pain.

  79. My glutes have always been an issue for my back pain.

    They tend to get tight and sore fairly frequently, and I have short hamstrings so that compounds the problem.

    Doing these techniques frequently would probably benefit me.

  80. I am a hippy for sure, have been for a while. I really want to buy a foam roller to help stretch my hip and glute muscles, but the tennis ball trick sounds great too!

  81. My daughter caught me reading this and wondered why on earth I was reading about if I was a hippy or a superhero!? She says I am a hippy?? I love the assessment tips. I wish we all looked for causes of problems and disease instead of just scraping the surface and treating the symptoms.

  82. This was interesting information on self massage and how to use a ball to push out nots and stuff this would be good homework for clients

  83. This blog was very educational and informative and I could see it being very useful and beneficial for the client to do at home.

  84. Couldn’t try this technique. The only ball that I have is a football and stress ball. Would like to try it soon. Looks like I’ll have to hit up the store soon.

  85. I don’t have a ball at home but will definitely try this when I get to school. I actually use one of the excercise balls to sit on during class. I have a lot of back pain and would be neat to see if its my hips that help contribute to that.

  86. This is great information. It is true because something to hurts doesn’t always mean that is the problem area

  87. Another good one that I can to myself or easily teach clients to do as homework or daily maintenance.

  88. We used one of these techniques that we adapted for class one week when we discussed the hip muscles. That is when I realized that I have really bad hips and its not my back most of the time. I would recommend any of these techniques to a client, friend, or family member! They really work!

  89. I see this all the time and when I tell people that the pain is actually caused by how tight their butt muscles are they always look at me funny but thank me after the glut massage! 🙂

  90. i love the pictures, and this will make great homework for clients. i’ll have to recommend it to a few people and see what they think

  91. It is amazing how much a tennis ball can help us feel better. I just need to remember how much it can do for me when i am in pain.

  92. Very informational blog! I myself don’t really have low back pain but i know a number of people in my family that does and can’t wait to tell them all about this inexpensive technique they can do even while watching tv.

  93. I play tennis so I know I can round up some tennis balls. I’m going to share this technique with my sister who has hip problems.

  94. This reminds me of foam rolling. It is uncomfortable but after you do it, it feels really nice. This is good stuff

  95. Knowing these techniques are good because you can use them for yourself as massage therapist and be able to tell and show your clients how to do it at home.

  96. These techniques work great for athletes in the field. However, it’s always better to have a partner to help like Michelle.

  97. I’ve done this technique with a foam roller and it worked out great! Finding what tools work best with your body is important in eliminating pain. Great read!

  98. I did not realize that your muscles of the glutes and hips could trigger lower back pain. This is also a great techniique in self massage that i am amazed you do at home with just tennis balls to harder ones. well i will try this out on myself then will recommend to friends and family soon. Will forward my own results. Thank you.