According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 300,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the United States. While some hip surgeries are inevitable, there are some steps you can take to encourage hip health and prevent injury.
Maintaining a healthy weight, increasing flexibility and building strength are lifestyle factors that can yield significant long-term impacts.
Being overweight puts additional strain on hip and knee joints. Maintaining a healthy weight has a multitude of health benefits, including putting less pressure on sensitive joints that can wear down over time.
General physical flexibility allows for a normal range of motion and the ability to do daily tasks with ease. Flexibility helps prevent injuries by avoiding unnatural movement and muscle patterns that arise when we overcompensate for tight or underused muscles. With sedentary jobs and weekend Netflix binges, the hips can easily get tight and lazy.
Strengthening the muscles surrounding the hip joint can help increase joint stability. Incorporating strength and mobility work into your routine before you experience problems is the best method for prevention.
What exercises will help strengthen the hips and hip flexors?
1. GLUTE BRIDGES
Lying on the floor, bend the knees with feet flat on the floor. Driving through the heels, lift the hips off the floor while engaging the glutes and squeezing your core. Hold for a few seconds at the top and return to the floor. Additional variations include single-leg bridges where one foot stays planted on the floor while the other leg is extended and lifted into the bridge position. Hold for a few seconds at the top and return to the floor. Complete the same number of repetitions on each side. Another variation includes holding a weight over the pelvic area while completing the bridges for additional resistance. Complete 8-12 repetitions, rest and repeat 2-3 sets.
2. FIRE HYDRANTS
On the floor, get on all fours in a tabletop position with shoulders aligned over wrists and hips aligned over knees. Balance on one knee while keeping the core engaged and raise the other bent leg to 90 degrees. Avoid twisting or moving the torso. For added benefit, tie a resistance band around the ankles to target some of the smaller muscles in the hip region and challenge yourself to stay steady. Complete 8-12 repetitions, rest and repeat 2-3 sets. Be certain to alternate sides and complete the same number of repetitions on each side.
3. SQUATS AND DUMBBELL SQUATS
Squats help strengthen the hips, quadriceps and the entire posterior 5 chain. Shifting weight into the heels, sit back until your legs make a 90-degree angle, then stand fully upright, driving through the heels. If needed, sit back until you lightly touch the seat of a chair, then rise. For added benefit, hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side. Complete 8-12 repetitions, rest and repeat 2-3 sets.
4. LUNGES AND DEFICIT LUNGES
Lunges help build up the quadriceps and glutes, strengthen the hip flexors and are great for increasing balance. Keeping the torso upright and the abdominals engaged, step one foot in front of you and bend the knees until the back knee is one inch away from the floor. The front knee should line up directly over your front ankle to protect the knee. Push through the front leg to return to a standing position. For a more advanced movement, find two sturdy objects such as stairs or platforms and rest your feet on these. Your lunge will allow for more depth when starting from a raised surface and a greater range of motion. For an extra challenge, hold a kettlebell or other object at the chest for added resistance. Complete 8-12 repetitions, rest and repeat 2-3 sets.
5. RESISTANCE BAND LEG LIFTS
In a standing position, tie a resistance band around the ankles. Balance on one leg and lift the other leg directly in front of the body until the resistance band restricts motion. Lower it back to the floor and repeat. Next, lift the same leg out to the side. After completing this set, lift the leg directly behind you while squeezing the glutes. Finally, lift the leg across the front of the body. If needed, use a steady chair or wall for balance. Complete 8-12 repetitions in each of the four positions, then rest and repeat on the other side. Complete 2-3 sets.
6. WALK STAIRS
Walking up and down stairs helps build flexibility and strength in the hip, glutes and quadriceps. Speed is not the most important factor. Focus on form.
7. BIKE RIDING
Riding a street or stationary bike will keep the hips in motion and strengthen the pelvis as well as the muscles in the legs that support hip stability.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY MEGAN SAPELAK