Our hips, they are such a central part of our body and are made up of 17 different muscles, all of which contribute to our overall balance, stability, and range of motion to do every day, repetitive tasks and movements. It is a major joint that is weight bearing and, like our shoulders, are a ball-in-socket joint, allowing a wide range of motions; moving your legs forward, backward, out to the side, back in toward your body, and rotating the legs both clockwise and counter clockwise (medial and lateral). It also allows you to bend forward and backwards at the waist. When our hips are not functioning at their best, we not only feel it, but have traveling side effects throughout the rest of our body, both upper and lower body.
Here are some common side effects to poor hip functions:
Pain in hips
Poor balance and stability
Problems with a shortened and uneven gate when walking or running
Tight, stiff, or shortened muscles
Limited range of motion in hips, legs, and lower back
Lower back pain and stiffness
Misalignment in the lumbar and thoracic spine
For recent hip tightness or stiffness, most often due to a physically strenuous activity or prolonged sitting, a massage and some stretches will be sufficient in getting you back in balance and feeling good again quickly. However, if it is an ongoing or chronic issue that is causing you pain and not allowing you a full range of motion to do everyday tasks, I would highly recommend seeing a chiropractor to make sure that your hips are not out of alignment. Getting some adjustments, then doing stretches and receiving massages will help relax the tight and stiff muscles that are holding fast and pulling you out of alignment. Once you are back in alignment, continue to do the stretches and add strengthening exercises back in to help even out the muscle imbalances that have occurred.
If you currently do not have any hip pain or limited range of motion, it does not mean that you will not be affected by it in the future. Hip and knee replacements are all too common in many people’s lives as they get older, as is arthritis or bursitis of the hips and knees. To help keep your hips healthy and to reduce the odds of having any major hip or knee issues, take action now to maintain healthy hips.
Here are some tips for healthy hips:
Maintain a healthy weight. The more added weight you carry around, the more work your weight bearing joints have to do and the more difficult it is for them to move in a fluid motion.
Talk to your nutritionist or doctor to make sure you are consuming enough Calcium, Vitamin D, and Omega-3s in your diet. Make sure you are eating enough foods that are rich in these or take supplements to make sure you are getting the proper amount in your system.
Receive regular massages and get chiropractic adjustments as needed.
Do stretches and yoga poses that focus on opening up your hips weekly, if not daily.
Strengthen the weaker muscles, especially those that pertain to the hips, quads, hamstrings, low back, core, etc.
Practice proper form and posture when sitting, walking, squatting, deadlifting, or any other weighted movement. Note: If you notice your knees moving inward or outward instead of straight over your ankles, if your heels start to come up as you squat down, if your back starts to curve when you bend forward or when lifting something overhead, STOP before you cause an injury. You will need to work on your range of motion, flexibility, and to strengthen the weakened muscles that are not supporting the proper movements in a safe manner.
Having healthy hips is such an integral part of your overall health and wellness. Whether you are trying to regain your healthy hip function, maintain it, or prevent from having future hips issues, following the above tips will help keep you moving and healthy. The goal is to limit and avoid any pain or surgeries in the future.
Need some guidance on some stretches and exercise to do for healthy hips? Check these two links to get some ideas on what you can do to stretch, strengthen and increase your mobility: