4 Habits That Support Strong, Healthy Hips

4 Habits That Support Strong, Healthy Hips

Your hips have the distinction of being the strongest joints in your body as well as the second most versatile set of joints — only your shoulder joints have a greater degree of mobility. 

Although these important load-bearing joints are inherently resilient, they’re also vulnerable to a variety of painful problems, ranging from acute trauma (labral tear) and overuse injuries (hip bursitis) to degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) and other rheumatic diseases that affect joints and connective tissues. 

Strong, healthy hip joints don’t just support your body and keep you mobile, they also protect against the lower back and knee injuries that are more likely to occur when your hip joints are weak, damaged, or dysfunctional.

As board-certified orthopedists who evaluate and treat people with hip injuries and other hip pain problems every week, our expert team at Sports Medicine Oregon wants to help you be proactive about your hip health. With that in mind, here are four habits that can keep your hips strong, mobile, and pain-free as you age.   

1. Maintain a healthy weight

Like your knees and ankles, your hips are load-bearing joints that support your body weight. Being overweight places all load-bearing joints — including your hips — under a greater amount of stress and pressure, whether you’re walking, running, dancing, or just standing still.  

In fact, every 10 pounds of extra weight you carry transfers an additional 50 pounds of load to your hip and knee joints, and that load increases when you perform a high-impact activity like running. Excess weight is a common factor in chronic hip pain, and losing excess weight is an easy way to alleviate the problem or prevent it altogether.

If you’re overweight and already living with the effects of arthritis-related hip pain, losing just a few pounds can go a long way in easing your discomfort and protecting your hip joints. 

2. Practice good posture 

From the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, your body is one long kinetic chain. Poor postural habits in any part of this chain — whether it’s a flat lower back when you’re standing or hunched shoulders when you’re sitting — can have a ripple effect through each link. 

While most people associate slouching with chronic neck and back pain, poor posture causes imbalances and compensations that can readily lead to tension and stress in the muscles and connective tissues that surround and support your hips, affecting joint alignment and function. 

Being mindful of your posture takes unnecessary stress and pressure off your hips (and your neck, lower back, and knees, too), and helps prevent gradually occurring imbalances that can eventually hinder your range of motion and mobility. 

Neutral standing posture means keeping your:

If you typically sleep on your side, maintaining neutral sleep posture is particularly important for healthy hips, as the side-sleep position can put extra stress on your hip joints. Luckily, all it takes to maintain proper pelvic-hip alignment in this position is placing a pillow between your knees.  

3. Wear supportive shoes

Wearing comfortable, low-heeled shoes that offer ample cushioning, full arch support, and a roomy toe box isn’t just good for your feet and ankles — it’s also good for your knees, hips, and lower back, which are next in line along your body’s dynamic kinetic chain. 

Ill-fitting or worn-out shoes don’t give your feet and ankles the support they need to maintain proper balance and distribute your weight evenly. Poor balance and weight distribution are common causes of the kind of faulty foot mechanics that place increased stress and strain on your knee and hip joints.    

Proper footwear is especially important if you play sports or have a job that keeps you on your feet. If you’re very active, it’s important to recognize when your shoes are becoming worn out so you can replace them and keep your feet (and body) well-supported. 

4. Get regular physical activity 

Regular exercise offers a myriad of joint-protecting benefits to help you improve and preserve healthy hips. Daily physical activity strengthens the muscles that support your hips, helps you maintain bone density within the joint, and increases circulation to keep your joints nourished and well-lubricated. 

A well-rounded routine that includes endurance, resistance, and flexibility training can go a long way in keeping your hips strong and flexible, and can even help prevent injury. Proper form and technique are just as important as the type of exercise you choose: Low-impact activities such as walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, and body weight exercises (i.e., squats, lunges, and planks) are excellent joint-supporting options.    

To learn all the ways we can help you be proactive about your hip health, call or click online to schedule a visit at Sports Medicine Oregon in Tigard or Wilsonville, Oregon, today.

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