Are you moving and using your hips enough?
How well do you move your hips? Our hips are ball and socket joints that have the ability to move in several directions: flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation, external rotation and circumduction!!
BUT often our hips get weak and stiff due to the effects modern living, mainly sitting in chairs. Even if you work out for an hour a day, if you are mostly sitting the rest of the day you are still considered sedentary.
We have so many reasons to sit including driving, sitting at a table for meals, sitting at a desk at jobs, sitting in front of the TV or computer at home. When you add it all up, how many hours do you actually sit per day??
Hip imbalances can contribute to pain in your knees and low back
If your hips are not functioning well, they may not hurt. BUT they may be contributing to pain in other areas, especially your knees and your low back. If your hips are restricted, then another body part has to pick up the slack. Often our low back moves too much to compensate for stiff hips. And imbalances in your hips commonly cause issues and pain in your knees. Knees are a simple hinge joint with a bit of rotation, they are often the victim to weak and stiff hips or ankles/feet which are much more complex.
It is very beneficial to add in as many movements as you can throughout your day and to figure out ways to replace some of your time spent sitting with other positions. Your hips, knees and low back will thank you 🙂
How can you help your hips?
- Use a standing desk (can simply use bed risers under desk legs or elevate computer on a small table) or use laptop at counter or high table
- Use your laptop at a low table such as a coffee table, and sit on a cushion or go into half kneeling position (one knee below your hip with foot behind you and the opposite knee is out in front of your hip with that foot below the knee, trying to make 90 degree angles with your knees)
- Get into habit of sitting on floor while watching TV, floor sitting places your hips at more challenging angles, also sitting on floor in one position is not as comfortable so you end up switching positions every few minutes which is more movement!
- Sneak in quick walks whenever you get a chance, this helps to counteract having the hips in a flexed position while sitting, be sure to extend your leg behind you, activate your glutes and push off with your toes!
- For every hour that you spend sitting, do one minute of hip flexor stretching – you benefit most from stretches that are active and functional which helps you to get more carryover (rather than a static stretch you hold for a minute).
- Take the stairs whenever you get the chance, it gets your hip extensors working for you
- Add in “movement snacks” throughout your day, mix it up with a variety of movements. I especially like exercises that focus on a segment of our walking pattern since this is functional and very helpful to get us improving the way we get around.
- Learn how to ground your feet better, this helps you to use your muscles in your hips more! Most of us interact with the ground in a less than optimal way which contributes to less muscle activity up the chain, especially the posterior chain (calves, hamstrings and glutes). My favorite way to train this is using Anatomy in Motion foot wedges.
I hope you find these ideas helpful, let me know if you would like some guidance with helping to get your hips and the rest of your body functioning and feeling better!