You put a lot of wear and tear on your hips. That’s just part of life. And for the most part, your hips are designed to take the abuse. According to WebMD, this largest of the body’s ball-and-socket joints is designed to endure the impact of both your daily routine and the occasional rigorous activity. Our hips do a lot of work for us so we owe it to them to practice proper hip conditioning. This is especially true in cases of injury, chronic pain or hip replacement recovery. Returning your hips to proper working order requires commitment to an exercise routine tailored to your exact needs. According to Everyday Health, your exercise strategy should focus on building strength and increasing flexibility.
Building Strength Restoring muscle and joint strength will be critical to overcoming injury. When it comes to strength-building, there are a few exercises that you can do right in the comfort of your own home. Wherever you decide to do these exercises, make sure that you have help if you need it. Even the most seasoned weight trainer works out with a spotter. Have a family member, caregiver or physical therapist close at hand before trying these strength-building maneuvers:
Gluteal Squeeze: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten the muscles of your buttocks and hold for five seconds. Release and repeat. Try to work up to 30 repetitions.
Hip Raise: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten the muscles of your buttocks while raising your hips in the air and holding for five seconds. Lower your hips and repeat. Try to work up to 30 repetitions.
Increasing Flexibility One of the most common causes for joint pain is a loss of flexibility. This may be caused by scar tissue, recent injury or a simple lack of physical activity. A lack of activity, in particular, can cause stiffness and joint immobility. The greater strain that you experience when in motion is what leads to chronic hip pain. Everyday Health describes this as a vicious cycle where sedentary behavior leads to joint pain…which in turn leads to more sedentary behavior. The solution? Get up and exercise! Runner’s World offers a few resistance band exercises (and handy diagrams) designed to improve joint flexibility. Get yourself a resistance band set with adjustable tensile strength and practice these moves:
Seated Hip External Rotator: Attach a resistance band to the left end of a bench and, while sitting on the bench, loop it around your right foot. With your knees together, slowly lift your right leg outward to a two-count. Lower it at the same pace. Repeat on the other leg.
Standing Hip Flexor: Anchor your resistance band to a strong stationary object and, facing away from this object, attach the other end to your right foot. Keeping it straight, lift your right leg up to a two-count. Lower it at the same pace. Repeat on the other leg.
Taking Precautions As with everything you do, you will want to know your limitations, especially if you are recovering from or have had a hip replacement procedure in the past. Consult your physician or a physical therapist for tips on your form and technique to make sure you’re getting the most out of your exercise regimen. While the exercises described here are generally safe, simple and low-impact, everybody’s needs are different. A physically active person with chronic athletic hip pain may have far more range of strength and motion that an older patient undergoing rehabilitation for hip replacement. Be sure that your exercise routine is right for you.