In the 21st Century, the amount of hip arthroscopy has increased exponentially around the world. The procedures used to treat hip pain, hip impingement, and hip joint disorder have also improved in that time due to the number of surgeons practicing new and evolving techniques.
It also coincides with an increase in the number of ‘unhealthy’ hips being diagnosed: this is most likely due to increased recognition of symptoms rather than an explosion of hip problems. This is not just an older population problem: children as young as 14 are being diagnosed and treated. In the worst cases, patients may need a hip replacement (arthroplasty), which is projected to reach 572,000 cases annually in the USA by 2030!
Whether you are trying to prevent yourself from suffering a hip injury or are rehabilitating from surgery, a variety of exercises can be included in your training program to improve your hip mobility and strength. This article will show you some exercises to help keep your hips healthy, as well as outline the risk factors associated with suffering from unhealthy hips.
What are the risk factors for unhealthy hips?
Sometimes people are just unlucky, and their hips degenerate. But, an increase in the risk of this happening is associated with the following risk factors:
- Age. The older you are, the more likely you will have hip problems. After hip surgery, patients aged 51-75 were five times more likely to need a hip replacement than those in younger age groups.
- Gender. Females are about twice as likely as males to suffer from hip problems
- Obesity. The heavier you are, the more likely you are to suffer from osteoarthritis in the hip and knee.
- High-intensity physical activities. Unfortunately, athletes are at higher risk, depending on their sport.
How many of these are in your control? We can’t stop ourselves from getting older, but we can lose weight and reduce the amount of high-intensity impact on our knees and
Being fit and active brings many health benefits, but if you are a female, Masters’s weightlifter in the 89kg + category, know that you are at a higher risk of potential hip problems than if you were a teenage male who plays table tennis.
Exercises to help strengthen your hip muscles
The number one change that you can make to reduce your risk factor of hip problems, is to maintain a healthy weight. Once that is accomplished, preferably through low-impact activities such as cycling, swimming, or brisk walking, then adding some hip strengthening and mobilizing exercises might help reduce the load that the joints have to take.
Here are three of my ‘go-to’ sequences that I use with athletes. They all require strength and mobility together: neither is of use in isolation.
Happy Hips. This is not one to try immediately post-surgery! It is useful for team sports players, such as the featured soccer striker, who need to be able to change direction at pace.
Hip series 1. This helps balance if done properly. Do not worry about the height of the leg to start; just work on the control.
Hip mobility sequence. Getting up and down off the floor is hard for many people. This sequence starts off with a simple knee swaying to help mobilize the hips before adding some strength and more mobility. The athletes are young, so take your
time if you are trying this out for the first time. Start with the first part, then add the extra exercises as you progress; there is no need to attempt everything on day one.
Good luck. These exercises are designed to improve your hip strength and mobility. If you have hip pain, please seek medical advice.