Why Hip Strengthening Is Essential For Female Athletes | STACK 4W
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Why Hip Strengthening Is Essential For Female Athletes

March 6, 2013 | Mo Skelton

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

Today’s female athletes have worked hard to narrow the gender gap. Setting records, making jaw-dropping plays and training at high intensity are just a few of the ways the ladies are proving they are just as aggressive, talented and successful as their male counterparts.

Performance gains aside, however, unfortunately, injury rates among female athletes are higher than males. (Concussions Are an Epidemic in Women's Sports Too) The largest factor is the difference in body structure. Although ACL injuries are the most widely discussed, hip pain is even more common among female athletes due to a higher likelihood of instability and muscle weakness in the hips. When jumping and landing, women are also more likely to cave their knees inward, a tendency known as knee valgus. This correlates with a number of other problems, from general hip pain to hip replacement surgery.

The hip is comprised of a ball and a large pelvic socket covered by a labral ring of cartilage to allow for mobility. Muscles surrounding the pelvis generally are larger and stronger, but more susceptible to stiffness. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently noted that hip replacement surgeries often fail in women due to size differences in the femur bone, hip socket and bone density.

The five injuries most commonly sustained by female athletes are hip hypermobility (pelvic torsion); labral tears; snapping hip syndrome and IT band syndrome; sports hernias; and muscle strains.

Hip Hypermobility (Pelvic Torsion)

Hypermobility refers to too much movement, associated with looseness of the ligaments connecting the bones. This can cause a shifting of the pelvis or even a rotational change, which can create leg length differences and then pain in the back, knee, foot and even the hip.

Labral Tears

The labrum is a ring of tissue around the hip socket that adds to the contact area and allows for more functional stability. Twisting, slipping or repetitive stress typically tears this tissue, causing deep pain and mimicking a hip flexor strain.

Snapping Hip Syndrome and IT or iliotibial band syndrome

These are two separate issues stemming from the same area of tissue. The IT band extends from the side of the hip near the muscle called the gluteus medius. With snapping hip, there is a notable "snapping" sound on the side of the hip when an athlete runs, jumps, climb stairs or walks fast. With IT band syndrome, the problem is at the far end of the tissue where it crosses the knee. Both conditions are common in runners. Snapping hip causes hip pain. IT band syndrome causes knee pain. The snapping is generally due to excess mobility, whereas IT band syndrome is due to tightness in the tissue at its insertion near the knee.

Sports Hernia

 A sports hernia is a muscle tear that typically occurs from a sudden twist under resistance, like during a tackle in football. The area most often injured is at the junction of the oblique muscles of the lower abdomen and the adductor (groin) muscles. The pain mimics that of a groin strain. The immediate cause is usually two muscles pulling in opposite directions at the same time.

Muscle Strains

The most common strains are in the hamstrings, often caused by eccentric contractions (lengthening while in action) produced when running. The purpose is to slow the leg down to land at the end of each stride prior to cycling to the next. The hip flexors are the next most commonly strained muscle group. These strains occur when an athlete propels her leg up during running. Sprinters with poor mechanics are at higher risk for hip flexor strains, especially when their leg travels too far behind their body before swinging forward. Finally, groin strains can be triggered during sudden changes of direction in sports such as soccer and basketball.

Common Themes

Q-angle

This is the angle from the hip to the knee. Since the female pelvis is naturally wider, this angle is larger in women, putting greater strain on the ACL and the hip musculature.

Natural hypermobility

At a certain point in the month, the female body produces higher amounts of relaxin, a hormone that naturally loosens ligaments and subjects the body to biomechanical stresses to the hip, as in pelvic torsion.

Muscle imbalances

Tightness typically affects the hips, glutes, iliopsoas and adductor muscles. They need to be stretched to improve mobility. Try bodyweight Lunges (forward and lateral) or Squat to Stands.

Hypermobile muscles

Generally the hamstrings, gluteus medius, IT bands and rotators in the hip.

Prevention

For any hip injury, performing appropriate exercises is critical. Below are some exercises female athletes can perform to prevent hip injury. To gain greater control of the hip rotators and prevent knee valgus:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Sumo Deadlifts
  • Plyometrics

Strengthening exercises are essential for hypermobile muscles. Perform:

  • Planks
  • Reverse Hyperextensions
  • Supermans
  • Bridges with a barbell
  • Clam shells with a theraband

Always seek expert advice as necessary.

 

Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Fact: More than 70% of all Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries are non-contact related. Another fact: Many of these injuries can be prevented with the...

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

Tyson Gay Hits the Olympic Track in adidas Prime SPs

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Exercise of the Week: Dumbbell Arm Swings

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke This Summer

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

How to Avoid Softball Pitching Injuries

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

How to Train With Running Blisters

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season