I said a hip hop, hippie to the hippie, the hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop!
We often think of our hips as simply the place where our legs attach to our body. Yet did you know that if you suffer from lower back pain, your hips could be the problem?
We need a balance of mobility and strength in our hips. They play a vital role in allowing movement of the lower limb and providing support for the rest of the body from the pelvis upwards. If our hips aren’t mobile enough, our body can compensate to try and account for the reduced range of movement. This can mean that our knees or lower back may suffer!
However, the upside of this is that restoring hip mobility can in turn reduce lower back or knee pain!
About the hip joint
The hip is a large ball and socket joint. It actually sits deeper within the body than you may think. The bony part at the top of your leg that is often referred to as the “point of the hip” is actually part of the thigh bone called the greater trochanter. The femur itself angles inwards and then attaches to the pelvis closer towards the middle of the body.
Due to the amount of weight-bearing and shock-absorbing that the hips have to do, the joint has a lot of cartilage. Because stability is the main aim, these joints do not have the same range of motion as the shoulder joints. However, we still need to have good free movement, and it is important for our overall health to keep our hips mobile!
What can we do to keep our hips healthy?
Sedentary lifestyles are a big problem, not only for our backs but for the rest of our bodies too. When we sit for long periods of time, the hip flexors become tight and the pelvis may actually become tilted forwards. This in turn causes arching in the lower back which may result in back pain. It can also encourage a “locked-knee” posture, which could cause knee pain. Therefore freeing off the hip flexors can allow the pelvis to take a more neutral position, which will help with both lower back and knee pain!
Obviously, in some cases being overweight can also cause issues. Exercise helps joint mobility, but if you are experiencing pain, then you may not want to move about! Healthy eating and moving little and often can be a good way to start introducing healthy habits.
Where should I start?
A visit to your chiropractor is often a great first step! They will be able to identify whether there is anything else to consider. Depending on your issues, they may advise that other treatment therapies could help, such as manual adjustments or acupuncture. In some cases, mild hip pain can be relived by warm baths or showers. Swimming or pool exercise, where the joint doesn’t have to support your entire bodyweight, can also enable you to gently strengthen them.
If you’ve had a hip replacement, you may need to consult with your doctor beforehand. However there are many simple and effective ways of keeping your hips happy and healthy. In one study, people with mild to moderate hip osteoarthritis who exercised were 44% less likely to need replacement surgery later than people who did not exercise!
Simple exercises such as knee lifts, squats, and chair stands can help stretch and strengthen these joints. As with any changes, it is important to start slowly and steadily increase as you feel able. Lessening the strain by not carrying heavy objects, and sitting in chairs that are not too low can also help.
If you want more advice on how to keep your hips happy and healthy, then speak to your chiropractor. You’ll soon be moving about and saying “Hip-hip… hooray!”
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