From the foundation of the incredible design of our feet, to the vulnerability of the knees, to the extremely powerful hips, which connect the lower body with the upper body, the body is an amazing tool if cared for properly. The construction of the hip joint (acetabulofemoral joint) is where the femur/thigh bone meets the cuplike acetabulum of the pelvis. This ball-in-socket arrangement has a huge range of motion in all directions, and it has some serious muscular support from several groups of strong muscles, tendons, and ligaments. For example, the iliofemoral ligament is one of the toughest ligaments in the body with a tensile strength exceeding 772 lbs. and extends anteriorly from the ilium of the pelvis to the femur. The hip structure is responsible for balance and stability, which allows us to walk, run, jump, and do the physical things we enjoy, while providing enormous biomechanical support for our whole body.
The hip is highly susceptible to injury because of its complex architecture. About 25% of us will experience hip problems. Tune-up and take care of them with these healthy “Hip” suggestions:
Take your hips for a walk ~ “motion is lotion,” “use it or lose it.” Yep, these cliché sayings are cheesy. However, they are in fact, completely accurate. Movement is critical. Don’t get trapped behind your desk. We are mammals and we are meant to move. As with everything in life though, moderation is key. “If you want to be a healthy person, you must move ALL THE TIME. You must remember what it feels like to move for the JOY OF IT.” ~ Cameron Diaz
If you are a side sleeper ~ use a pillow between your knees for better alignment for your hips and spine.
Don’t push/slide heavy things along the floor with your foot, even though it might be convenient. Over time it creates stress and damage at the hip capsule.
Practice balancing yoga poses to find equanimity between the upper and lower body. Hug one knee inward toward your abdomen while standing on one leg, firm the hip in so it’s stacked over the knee, which is in line with the ankle (see photo below, plus a good one for the knees!).
Also find balance between both strength and flexibility in your hips. Strike a pose in a powerful Warrior Two pose (see photo above) and stretch the muscles around the joint or Pigeon Pose (photos below).
Stretching tip: Make sure you take long and full breaths because deep hip stretches can be super intense. Symbolically, tightness in our hips is like the infamous clenching of our jaw (or grinding our teeth while we sleep). These places tense up when we are distraught. We stash stress, emotions, and old wounds here and ignore it like our messy junk drawer. Hip stretches can be confronting as well as comforting as you let go of tension. Emotions may flow and be released. Breathe slowly and mindfully. Your breath is your best teacher.
Be active and proactive! Schedule your tune-up with me (or a Skype session for guidance). This time you set aside for YOU is imperative! As a physical therapist, I examine the entire structure of the body and I determine the proper ingredients for the recipe to help you optimize your health. Life is dynamic, and so are we. Our bodies change and its demands fluctuate. Listen to its messages, choose to take care of its trillions of cells to prevent possible breakdowns in the future to make sure it runs well for a very long time.
Amanda Kriebel, DPT, E-RYT 500