The hip muscles form a vital link in the lower body’s connective chain. These 17 muscles provide balance, stability, and range of motion for all of your daily activities. When one or more of these muscles becomes injured or tight, the ripple effect is significant. Learning about how to prevent hip pain will benefit you in the future.
While overuse, a sudden fall or other injury can impact hip flexibility, tight hip muscles very often stem from a lack of activity. Sitting at a desk all day can quite quickly cause a tightening and shortening of the muscles. The result of any of these causes the muscles in your hips to lack proper range of motion and strength. When your hip flexors get stiff and fail to do their job sufficiently, your lower back and hamstrings have to compensate by doing the hip’s job of flexing and extending the leg and hip.
We’ve all heard a lot about core strengthening but maintaining flexibility of your core (hip flexors, glutes, piriformis, IT band, and hamstrings) is every bit as critical to reducing the risk of injury and maintaining long-term mobility. In fact, reduced flexibility not only impacts your ability to perform everyday tasks, but it is one of the leading causes of injuries.
Please see our hip pain exercises for more information.
Hip Pain Causes
Like the spine, the hips are a vital part of your body, and pain in the hips can have far-reaching negative effects on your everyday life. Unfortunately, because we use our hips so regularly, they can become vulnerable easily, and hip pain can be caused by a wide variety of problems. If you are experiencing hip pain, it may be a sign of:
- Bursitis, an inflammation of the joint area
- A bone fracture or other injury, such as from a fall or impact
- Tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendons
- Pulled or strained muscle
Different types of injuries or illnesses may all cause unique long term problems. Ask a doctor to help you identify the source of your hip pain.
Hip Pain Symptoms
Every case of hip pain is different, and depending on the cause of your pain, you may experience it in different ways. Hip pain may be a constant ache or short, sharp pains that only strike when you move your joint in certain ways. In addition to feeling pain, if you have an injury or illness impairing the functionality or hip, you may also experience:
- Reduced mobility of the joint
- Difficulty putting weight on the injured leg
- Stiffness and spasming of the muscle surrounding the joint
- Numbness in the hip area
- "Pop" sounds when you move
Hip pain can make it difficult to walk, stand, or even sit in certain positions. With the right exercises and treatment, however, mobility and comfort can be restored to your joint.
Hip Pain Treatments
Rehabilitating an injury is time consuming. As with all injuries, prevention is your best defense.
Prevention options include:
- Focus on Flexibility and Strength Every Day – If you're going to prevent injury, stretching should be done daily. The stretching and strengthening programs that help rehab the injury are often the same ones that will help to prevent it.
- Warm Up and Cool Down - Think of your muscles as taffy. Often a bit brittle to start, the more pulling and stretching that is done, the more pliable it becomes. Starting an athletic activity without stretching is a risk for injury you just don't have to take. Be sure to warm up properly before starting any exercise but be sure to stretch afterwards as well. You'll thank yourself in the morning.
- Enlist Support - Your feet are designed to protect you against the shock your body feels when you take a step. Every time the heel of your foot hits the ground, a shock wave travels up through your body, all the way to your head. A healthy body will absorb this shock. But if your feet are not in their correct functioning position, more of this shock is allowed to move through the body to weaken other joints including the hips and spine. Be sure that your feet are healthy, that your arches are properly supported and your shoes are providing maximum shock absorption.
Short Term Relief
- RangeRoller Pro™ – Wth its compact size and maximum stiffness, RangeRoller Pro is perfect for massaging hard to reach muscles like the hip flexors.
- Tuli's Gaitors - Absorbs the shock of walking and running for long term relief and prevention of many ailments
Long Term Healing
- CoreStretch- Allows tissues to elongate, stretch, and relax. Originally developed for Physical Therapists to help patients achieve the safest lower abdomen stretch possible, the CoreStretch uses the body’s natural traction to provide a deep, effective stretch of the hips, hamstrings, glutes, and quads.