As the largest ball-and-socket type of joint, our hips allow us to engage in several functional activities such as walking, sitting, running, or standing. However, like other parts of the body, the hips are also subject to wear and tear that results in hip pain. If you’re experiencing hip pain now, you are definitely aware of how this limits your normal activities or negatively impacts your performance in sports.
To bounce back into shape, exercise is essential to your recovery. Rest may be necessary, but being inactive for too long only causes stiffness and more pain. Let’s understand why movement will do that aching hip some good!
Why do you need to exercise to alleviate hip pain
Hip issues can affect the position of your pelvis which can, in turn, lead to problems like back pain or knee pain. Much of this is caused by our lifestyle. Hip pain does not merely affect sedentary individuals – avid runners can experience it too. If not corrected, hip pain can impair basic movement and even your performance in sports.
While pain may stop us in our tracks, it shouldn’t paralyse us with fear. Unless you’re dealing with acute injuries like cartilage tears or fractures, there’s something that can be done to alleviate chronic hip pain that stemmed from overuse. Besides medical care, the pain of this kind can be managed at home through exercise.
But why do we need to exercise it ourselves? Isn’t professional care enough?
Not to discount the benefits of physical therapy, your own effort can also augment professional treatment. Exposing your hip joint to regular exercise restores a good range of motion which gradually rebuilds strength and stability after an injury. By improving our hip function, we inevitably resolve pain symptoms.
Restoring a good range of motion follows a “use it or lose it” principle. So, if you’re not consistently building your muscles and joints, your range will eventually become limited.
Different exercises for hip pain
While rest is important as an injury heals, here are some exercises to keep improve your hip joint function. Feel free to combine these exercises to create a personalised routine that lasts 30 minutes or longer.
A leg press is an exercise that has a short range of motion but still works up the quads, glutes, and hamstrings to their maximum potential. Building up these muscles is beneficial for the hips because they are involved in different hip movements. For instance, your quads help flex the hips as you move your thighs when you walk or run.
As chronic hip pain restricts joint movement, it ends up placing more weight on a small portion of the muscles surrounding the hips. Yoga opens up your hip joints and stretches the muscles. Fine movements and exacting poses stabilise the small muscles that move and support the joints, gently improving strength and flexibility to the area.
To address hip pain, it is advised that you keep things at a beginner level instead of trying your hand at advanced poses. Professionals advise that you avoid power yoga classes and focus on slow movements and mild stretches instead. For this, you can try Hatha yoga which focuses on flow, or Bikram yoga which involves heat that helps warm up the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to promote ease when stretching.
Underwater, the body is up to 80% weightless. However, water also adds resistance that strengthens your muscles without adding stress or pressure to the hip joints. This makes it suitable for older individuals, overweight adults, and professional athletes to encourage a progressive recovery from what’s causing discomfort to the hips. It involves lesser effort with a minimal perception of pain.
A study has shown that swimming can be good aquatic physiotherapy that improves strength during the early post-operative stage of hip replacement surgery.
Cycling keeps the hips mobile which benefits overall hip function and athletic performance. It tones the abdominal and oblique muscles, but it also engages the ones on your back, legs, and hips.
A stationary bike introduces a low-impact exercise which allows the hips to externally rotate. Doing so improves lower body stability and prevents pain and injuries in the hips. Furthermore, the movement lubricates the joints – reducing pain and stiffness.
Hip pain may vary for everyone, but regardless of severity, prompt care can make a difference in how you bounce back. Doing so can quickly eliminate the pain and promote a faster return to normal activity. The right exercise is good for pain management, the improvement of your athletic performance, and injury prevention.