Hip joints are among the hardest working parts of a body. With every step you take, the hip has to bear out weight and absorb the forces generated by our legs hitting the ground. Over time, those forces can wear down the joint, leading to pain caused by arthritis, called osteoarthritis, and other conditions.
Like the shoulder, the hip is a ball-and-socket joint, which gives it flexibility. The socket where the femur and the pelvis connect is covered with, and cushioned by, cartilage, which is lubricated by synovial fluid. Problems start when the cartilage starts to erode and the femur “ball” starts grating directly on the pelvis “socket.” Without prevention, the cartilage can wear away to the point of requiring hip-replacement surgery. It is estimated that around 250,000 people a year require the procedure.
Ironically, one of the easiest and effective ways of keeping your hip joints healthy is to use them. Walking helps keep the cartilage pliable and lubricated. The added benefit it that walking can help with weight control. If there is one single element that can reduce the chances of hip problems, it’s maintaining a proper weight to reduce the stress on the joints.
You can also check with your medical professional about taking dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. According to research published by the American College of Rheumatology based on 212 patients, glucosamine sulfate was shown to be extremely effective in promoting joint health. It was found to reduce pain, minimize swelling, and improve stiffness.
Healthy hips contribute to good posture and maintaining proper back alignment. Stiff hip joints caused by sitting too long at a desk can lead to lower back pain and overall body tension. Just spending a few minutes once or twice a day stretching your hips can keep the joints flexible and relaxed.
Stretching exercises can help the joints by keeping the hip flexor muscles supple. The flexors, which attach the femur to the pelvis and lumbar spine, is what enables us to raise our legs toward the torso and what keep the hips and lower properly aligned.
When the hip flexors become stiff it can lead to lower back and hip pain as well as limited motion. They can also result in balance problems and are a reason people tend to fall more as they get older. Keeping the hip flexors strong will not only keep you pain free but help keep you safe.
Among the recommended exercises include yoga, balance training, leg lifts, and stretching lunges. Even just a few minutes every day can have a significant positive impact on your hip joint health.