The hip is one of the most important joints in our body, which is why it’s vital to prevent hip injuries. The hip’s primary function is to support the weight of the body when standing and moving, so living with hip pain can significantly hinder a person’s quality of life. Maintaining healthy hips with hip injury prevention tips can reduce your risk of general wear-and-tear hip pain and developing osteoarthritis, which is a primary reason for hip replacement surgery.
Below are some key tips to preserve your hips and avoid hip injury:
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Keeping your weight in a healthy range is essential for preserving your hips. The hip joint sustains forces up to 3 to 6 times bodyweight. The amount of weight you put on your hips will affect the amount of pain you experience, so shedding a few pounds could provide you with tremendous relief. Couple a balanced diet with regular exercise to keep your weight at a healthy level for your joints.
Practice Proper Posture
Some of the biggest stress on our joints that often goes undetected is our everyday positioning. Develop good sitting and standing habits to reduce stress and strain on muscles and ligaments, which can negatively affect the hip joints. Practice sitting with legs uncrossed and feet flat on the floor. Sit with your back straight, shoulders back with your buttocks touching the back of your seat. When standing, keep feet shoulder width apart and avoid leaning predominately to one side of the body. Pull your stomach in and put your weight mostly on the balls of your feet.
Cushion Hips and Knees While Sleeping
The way we sleep can often put additional stress on our joints. Switching your sleep position could provide immediate relief to your hips. For example, if you’re a side sleeper, try sleeping on your back. To maintain healthy hip positioning while side sleeping, place cushions or pillows between your knees to reduce stress across your hips. Use a body wedge under your hip for additional support. If you’re a back sleeper, place a pillow under your knees to help with better spine alignment. Trochanteric bursitis can significantly affect your sleeping.
Wear Comfortable, Supportive Shoes
Make it a priority to wear comfortable, supportive shoes that correctly fit your foot to protect your hips from injury. Look for shoes with proper cushioning to absorb shock to reduce impact on your joints. Good arch support also is important to spread weight over the feet, which in turn lessens the strain on your lower limbs and hips. If you’re having trouble selecting a shoe, seek advice from a running or athletic training expert.
Warm Up and Stretch Before and After Exercise
Hip injury often occurs when people don’t take the time to properly warm up and cool down before and after exercise. Warming up before exercise increases blood flow and flexibility, which helps limit the risk of hip injury while exercising. Stretching can relieve pain by improving circulation and reducing stiffness. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. When in doubt, consult a physical therapist to design an individualized stretching plan to suit your needs.
Incorporate Resistance Training Into Your Workouts
In addition to cardiovascular training, it is important to add functional resistance training into your workout routine 2-3 times per week to strengthen the muscles of the hip and leg. Planned functional resistance training includes moves we do in everyday life, like squats, lunges and step-ups. Doing these exercises with light dumbbells or resistance bands can help improve hip stability and lower the risk for developing osteoarthritis.
Modify Exercises as Needed
It’s unlikely that we’ll still be able to perform the same exercises we did in our 20’s as we age into our 50’s and 60’s. It’s beneficial to switch around your activities to avoid repetitive injuries such as tendonitis. For example, if you’ve always been a runner, try swimming laps or cycling instead. Incorporate yoga and resistance training into your workouts. Most importantly, listen to your body, don’t push it too far, and adjust your workouts as needed. Try isometric exercises if movement is causing pain. A plank, standing on one leg or holding a bridge is an alternative.
Incorporating these hip injury prevention tips into your everyday life will help keep your hips healthy and avoid hip surgery. If you’re experiencing severe, persistent or worsening hip pain, it is important to visit a doctor who specializes in hip joints. Make an appointment with Dr. Timothy Jackson by calling (626) 795-8051.