Hip pain or tightness is a common complaint we see in the clinic. This is likely something you have experienced at some point.
Hip pain can be a real pain the ass – literally.
When we are talking hip pain, we are referring to the front, back and side. There will be some overlap here between your groin, thigh and glutes.
Do you find yourself dealing with:
- Pain in the hip or groin region?
- Referred pain into your thigh or knee?
- Pain lying on your side, struggling to sleep?
- Restricted hip mobility?
- Muscle tightness?
- A limp during gait?
- Difficulty weight-bearing on the affected limb?
Common conditions that are associated with hip pain include:
- Labral tear
- Avascular necrosis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Bone fracture
- Dysplasia of the hip
- Perthes’ disease
- Slipped capital femoral epiphysis
- Referral from soft tissues (muscle, tendon, ligament)
- Referral from the lumbar spine
For the general population (likely you!), many of the above will not be an issue. Arthritic conditions typically occur with increasing age and Perthes’ disease and hip dysplasia are congenital conditions.
Unfortunately, we can’t prevent all of these conditions, but we can build strong and healthy hips!
Depending on your activity or sport level you may be more likely to suffer from referred pain from soft tissues or the lumbar spine. High or low activity levels can be linked to hip bursitis, tendinitis and labral tears.
More often than not hip tightness can be linked to altered motor control and strength.
So how do you bullet-proof your hips from getting stiff and painful?
Standing desks are quite popular due to the whole “sitting is the new smoking” campaign that has been promoted over the last few years.
As I tell my patients, if you can sit poorly, you can stand poorly. Regardless of how “well you sit or stand”, staying in any one position, sitting or standing is not ideal.
The human body was designed to move and when stationary for too long we don’t get optimal blood flow and therefore oxygen to our working muscles.
So, if you have to stand, a few key things:
Don’t lock your knees
Don’t stand with the majority of your weight on one leg
Don’t sway your body forwards through your pelvis
Don’t stand in one spot for an hour without moving (who can do this anyway???)
Do stand with soft (unlocked) knees
Do stand with your weight balanced between both feet
Do roll your shoulders back gently
Do change positions frequently (every 30-40 minutes)
It is important to note: by changing positions every 30-40 minutes you don’t need to take a full-on break. You can just adjust your position or do a light stretch.
I used to be a big proponent of the “sitting is the new smoking”, but thinking about it more, by having someone stand all day, the side effects while different, or no better than the negative side effects of prolonged sitting. Again, the key here is to MOVE!
We will all have times where we may have to be able to sit for a prolonged period of time. It may be a long-haul flight. Or a big night of study or working towards a big deadline for a work project.
Our key tips for sitting:
- Sit upright with you back against the chair, hips/knees/elbows at 90-degree angles, eyes straight ahead at monitor
- Ensure your shoulders are relaxed and that you’re not poking your head forwards to see your monitor
- Avoid perching on the edge of your seat for prolonged periods
- Sitting forwards in your chair with no back support can be a form of active sitting, as long as you avoid leaning forwards
- Limit prolonged periods of sitting with regular “breaks” which may include a change in position, an easy desk stretch or a toilet break!
- Perform the “Booty Scoot” regularly if you are suffering from hip or any spine-related pain/tension
- “The Booty Scoot” is a great tool for decreasing tension in your hips and lower back. Often, we gravitate to tilting our pelvis to one extreme and after a while things start to ache, or if that’s where we start, it may not be feel too good!
- Sit forwards in your chair
- Feel for muscle tension in the front of your hip
- The best way to do this is to hook under the bony bit at the front of your pelvis and sink into your hip. Lift your foot off the floor and feel the tendon pop out. This is your hip flexor and when sitting ideally this is soft and relaxed
- Sit on your hands, palm face up
- Tilt your pelvis back and forth in your hands feel your sit bones
- Stop when you are in the mid-position – neither too far forwards or backwards
- Shift your weight to the left and with your right hand grab the sit bone and flesh of your bottom and pull it back and to the side
- Repeat on the other side
- Re-check the tension in the front of your hips. Repeat as needed until hip flexors soft
- When finished shift back in your seat and get to work!
Depending on your particular activity you may benefit from more stretching to mobilize your hips or more strength to reduce your chance of developing one the hip-related pain syndromes mentioned above.
Key stretches – hip flexors, quadriceps and abdominals to the rounded position you sit in while you cycle. 1-2 yoga classes per week or a daily home yoga routine can be a great way to maintain good hip and spine mobility, giving your legs more power on the road!
Key stretches – hip flexors, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves; key strengthening exercises should include single leg work with focus on quads (VMO) and glutes (medius, maximus).
Focus on staying strong in your poses and not “hanging out in your hips”. As most people who gravitate towards yoga already tend to be flexible it can be easy to fall into a stretch such as a lunge hip flexor stretch.
Soccer and Footy players
Due to the stop and start running nature of these sports, players can be susceptible to muscle strains. Including yoga-based stretches will help to open up the trunk and hips and Pilates exercises to build strength in the abdominals and glutes.
Are you having an issue with your hips that’s not resolving with your current management strategies? Want more advice? get in touch today.
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