This is somewhat of a sequel to the blog on strengthening your glutes. One reason glutes are often dead is due to decreased hip mobility. When we sit, we put our glutes to sleep and we shorten our hip flexors. Tight hips keep us from squatting as deep as we should, and can put extra strain on our lower back and knees.
If you can work on loosening up those hip flexors, not only should it help with back and knee pain, but it should improve the power in lifts like squatting, Olympic lifts, kettlebell swings, and increase power in sprinting. When you shoot a rubber band, the farther back you pull it, the more tension there is, and the farther it shoots. The greater your joint mobility, the greater your range of motion, and the more tension – and therefore power – you’ll be able to generate.
People have forgotten or sometimes don't know how to use their hips the way they were designed to be used. Instead of sitting back with their hips to pick something up, followed by a hip extension (thrust forward) to bring it up, they’ll bend at the waist and lift with the lower back. Picking up something small, you can get away with poor hip mobility; but only for a limited time. Picking up a weighted barbell, a child or a bag of sand with your back...that's an accident waiting to happen.
Good stretches to work on hip mobility are ones we often do in the gym. The pigeon stretch, the Samson stretch, and the couch stretch. Spend some extra time working those hips and see how much better you feel...your back will thank you!