Hip, hip hooray!
Hips, what can a physiotherapist say about hips… They are the largest joint in the body and have some massive muscles acting on the joint, the glutes and the quads and the hamstrings…
Having good hip mobility will help you move better in your everyday life.
The way us humans move, makes our hips stiff. From the way we run, to the how we sit down, how we stretch (or lack of stretching). We simply make our hips stiff.
I heard this saying from an instructor on a course I took, “stiff hips make terrible neighbours”. What this person meant by the statement is the fact that if your hips become stiff, you do not notice it. Where you notice the pain/dysfunction is in the neighbouring joints, namely the knee and/or the low back.
The low back will get sore because the hips just not as mobile as they were and the low back has to move more to accommodate for the hips. A simple place where this can occur is forward bending, trying to touch your toes. If your hips do not bend forward, flex, as much as they should, then your low back has to bend more to compensate. I have seen this many times. One exercise I give people to try and get their hips more mobile is to get the client on all fours. I tell them to “stick your tail feathers in the air”. While maintaining their tail feathers sticking up, I ask them to sit back on their heels. Once their low back starts to move, flex, I stop the client, explain what happened and get them to do it again. I want them to get the feeling of when their low back starts to move. Some client’s have a really hard time with this. They are so used to moving through their low back because of stiffness in the hips, they can barely do the exercise correctly!
The knee joint can also be affected by hip stiffness. The femur is the longest bone in the body. The top end of the femur is part of the hip joint. The bottom of the femur is the knee joint. If the hip joint is stiff, then the knee joint has to lever through to get in the proper position to start moving/ bending. In addition, if the far end of the femur cannot get in a good position to start bending, the patella, or kneecap, does not fit properly into the groove at the end of the femur. This may account for some clicking or popping made when the knees are bent. If the patella gets pulled too far in one direction, then knee issues can arise from that. Some examples of this are patellofemoral pain syndrome (means pain behind the kneecap, but it sounds much scarier) or chondromalacia patella (= sick cartilage of the knee cap).
Restoring hip mobility and getting the proper muscles to activate can really help with low back pain as well as knee pain. In addition, starting some hip strengthening exercises will engage the hip muscles and you will become more aware of the weakness and stiffness. The best thing is usually after 1-2 weeks of doing mobility and strengthening exercises, things will change! You will be able to notice hip mobility changes and feel less stiffness/soreness in other parts of the body.
Here is a great page, I found that has some really good hip mobility exercises. Now, do not simply jump into the exercises. Some of the following stretches may be inappropriate for your hip pain and may actually make your pain worse! If you are having hip pain, please see a physiotherapist or doctor first, for a thorough assessment. Preferably a physiotherapist with the FCAMPT designation, as they have done extensive postgraduate training.
Another great exercise routine for hip mobility is call the Myrtl Routine. The Myrtl Routine was developed by a running coach, Jay. He called it the Myrtl Routine because myrtl rhymes with hip girdle. Here is a link to a quick video on the Myrtl Routine:
Both are excellent resources to help get your hips moving again. Please make sure it is your hips are the cause of the issue you are having.