Written By: Meghan Presnell, FNP-C
The hip joint is one of the most important joints in our body, allowing us to walk, run, jump, and basically any other activity we would like to do with our lower body. It is a ball and socket joint, meaning that the head of your femur (or top of your leg) is like a ball that is perfectly designed to fit into a hollowed out part of your pelvis. This allows it a significant amount of flexibility and movement. It also bears the most weight of any joint in our body, second to the knee, and over time can suffer a lot of wear and tear.
So what happens when our hips do get injured or aren’t working properly? I’m sure we all know someone who has had a hip replacement due to a hip injury. This is clearly the worst case scenario for the health or hips. But other hip injuries or diseases can also occur, including arthritis, osteoporosis, dislocation, and tendonitis (itis = inflammation), to name a few. These may not result in the need for a hip repair, but can cause pain and decreased movement. So let’s get hip on hip health (I had to). How can you help preserve the integrity and strength of this joint?
Postural changes can benefit your hips. Avoid propping yourself one leg, as this almost doubles the weight on that joint. Also avoid crossing your legs- this means ankles and knees. Both of these things can cause pelvic imbalance, which can then throw off your pelvic alignment, which affects your back, your knees, etc. Remember that song, “the back bone’s connected to your hip bone, the hip bone’s connected to your leg bone?” Well this silly song actually rings true. Your car doesn’t like when it’s alignment is off, and your body doesn’t like it when yours is off.
I know, I know, you are sick of hearing this, but weight loss is one of the best things you can do for not just your hips, but your entire body, by decreasing your risk of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke. The current estimate is that 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese. Remember how I said that your hips are weight bearing? Well a lot of us are adding extra weight to these joints, which can wear away the precious cushioning in between that ball and socket. As little as a 10-pound weight loss can help take a load off your hips. Also, ensure you are protecting your bone health with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. The recommendations differ slightly based on your age, but in general for adults your diet should include 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium and 600-800 IU of vitamin D, daily. If you are interested in working with a dietician to help, which many insurance companies now cover, please check out our nutrition services.
And lastly, use your body as your guide- if it hurts, don’t do it! As Shakira says, your hips don’t lie. That adage that you should fight through the pain does NOT apply to your joints. If you have any concerning joint pain, it is recommended that you seek medical evaluation to it can be appropriately assessed and treated.
For some practical knowledge about moving and strengthening your hips in a healthy way, join us for our free Third Thursday yoga class on August 17th at 6:45 where we have partnered with Results PT and Kathleen Yount of Blue Lotus Yoga to provide yoga for our community. See you there!