Avoiding hip injuries and pain can be a regular occurrence for some people. The role of the hip is primarily as a weight bearing joint and knowing these Five Tips on How to Prevent Hip Injuries can help with prevention of hip pain and injuries.
Some background on Hip Injuries
The hip joint is one of the most important joints in our body. Its’ primary function is to bear the weight of the body in static (standing) and dynamic (walking, running) postures. It is a highly movable joint with three degrees of movement. This allows us human beings to produce everyday functional movements like walking, picking objects of the ground and going up and down stairs.
The hips primary role in weight-bearing means that it is subject to wear and tear or degeneration over a period of time eventually resulting in osteoarthritis. This increases the chances of requiring joint replacement surgery to deal with the symptoms and loss of function associated with osteoarthritis.
In Australia, 44,710 hip replacements were reported in the registry in 2015 which is a 2.6% increase compared to 2014. In addition, the number of hip replacements undertaken in 2015 was 64.9% more than undertaken in 2003. The registry also states that the main reason for requiring a hip replacement was the presence of severe osteoarthritis. This is closely followed by traumatic events such as falls.
The rising number of hip replacement surgeries occurring sends a clear message that we need to do better to look after our hips. It follows that taking care of our hips will reduce the risk of developing severe osteoarthritis and lessen the chances of having a fall. This will consequently lead to less hip replacement surgeries. Below, are some basic tips to help preserve our precious hips.
Watch your weight!
It can be a touchy topic but the research doesn’t lie. There is a clear correlation between having heavier body weight and developing osteoarthritis. When we think about it, it is very logical. More weight places more stress on the joints and leads to microtears in the cartilages of our hip joints. This builds up over time and leads to osteoarthritis. Weight loss is a gruelling process but it is essential to preserving our hips. Eating a balanced healthy diet coupled with regular exercise can ensure that we keep our weight at a healthy level for our joints. If you after more specific weight loss advice, it would be beneficial seeing a dietician.
Keep up regular cardiovascular exercise
It may sound counter-intuitive but in fact, regular cardiovascular exercise ensures that we keep our hips healthy. Yes, exercising does place a considerable amount of stress on our joints but the key is the type of exercise.
The research backs low impact exercises which makes sense because low impact means less stress on the joints. Low impact exercises can include swimming, rowing and cycling. These types of cardiovascular exercises are great for ensuring adequate and sufficient blood flow to our hips providing good nourishment. This will help slow down the degenerative processes.
Include resistance training in your exercise
Tip number two encourages us to maintain regular exercise in the form of aerobic cardiovascular low impact exercises but there is another important form of exercise that’s beneficial for hips. This is the classic resistance or strength training. Two to three times a week of planned resistance training around the muscles of the hip and the leg have been proven to improve hip stability and lessen the effects of osteoarthritis in the older population. The gym is a great environment to do resistance training but if you’re simply not a “gym” person than doing resistance exercises at home can be the perfect alternative. This can be achieved with the use of light dumb bells or resistance bands. It is also important to do strengthening in the form of functional exercises which include movements we do in every day living. These include squats, lunges and step ups.
As we age, it is normal for our sense of balance to deteriorate naturally. This can lead to falls.
Falls are one of the leading causes of hip replacements in the elderly. To avoid all of this, we need to continuously work on our balance to prevent falls.
Incorporating balance based exercises daily into an exercise regime is vital. In addition, doing both static exercises such as single leg stance and dynamic exercises such as tandem walking or side walking is important to comprehensively challenge our balance systems and for some variation. Different progressions for the same exercise can also be done. For example, a single leg stance to failure can be done with eyes open to start with then progressing to eyes shut and also eyes open on a foam mat (for a different surface) for more of a challenge.
Appropriate body positioning
Often, the biggest issue that goes undetected is how we position our hip joints in every day living. I can guarantee we are all guilty of putting our hips in positions of strain or excessive stretch out of habit. This can cause different muscle groups and selected ligaments to either lengthen or shorten depending on the position which can alter how the hip joint functions in a negative fashion. This is then a precursor for injuries. Classic examples of bad hip positioning include:
Sitting with one leg crossed over the other leg. This can cause the side hip muscles of the top most leg to over-stretch.
Sleeping on one side of the body. This can compress the tendons of the hip on the bottom hip.
Standing in line leaning more towards one side. This can stretch the side hip muscles of the supporting leg and produce torsional forces on the hip.
Conscious awareness of how our hips are positioned allows us to correct these bad habits and ensure that we are keeping our hips healthy.
If you have any specific questions or are experiencing hip pain. Please don’t hesitate to see the experienced and friendly physiotherapists at Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy. Located in Newmarket, Brisbane. Call us on 07 3352 5116 or book online today.