Healthy hips are vital for a pain-free, independent life and everyone can improve their personal hip health. June marks healthy hip awareness month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about hip injuries, risk factors, and symptoms for early diagnosis. The hip is a major weight-bearing joint in the body and is responsible for many functional activities such as walking, running, sitting, standing and climbing stairs. However, if not properly cared for, unhealthy hips can lead to a decreased quality of life with poor balance, postural problems, sprains or fractures.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the number of hip fractures worldwide could reach between 4.5 million and 6.3 million by 2050. Additionally, nearly 75% of all hip fractures occur in women. Hip fractures and other hip injuries are often difficult to diagnose and are invariably associated with chronic pain, reduced mobility, disability and less independence.
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The good news is that pain can quickly be avoided or eliminated by keeping your hips strong and mobile. Below are healthy hip tips that will not only increase your ability to perform everyday activities but can also help prevent or reduce back and knee problems.
1. Sleep with Your Hips in Mind: 57% of Americans sleep on their side which can affect your hips. If you’re a slide sleeper, try putting a pillow between your knees to maintain proper hip alignment and wake up with less pain.
2. Don’t Push with your Foot: Moving items along the floor with your foot is never a good idea. Even something as simple as sliding a laundry basket across the floor with your foot can put a strain on the hip resulting in a painful and slow-healing injury.
3. Improve Your Posture: Slouching not only places stress on your spine, but it can also lead to hip pain. Focus on obtaining proper spine alignment while standing and sitting for pain-free living.
4. Place Both Feet on the Floor: Crossing your legs can place your hips in an awkward position causing numbness, tingling, irritation and pain. It’s best to sit with both feet on the floor to keep your hips properly aligned, but shifting positions often is helpful.
5. Wear Proper Footwear: Worn out, ill-fitting or non-supportive shoes can be a killer on your hips. New shoes that appropriately support your heel, arch and toe box are critical for hip alignment.
6. Keep Moving: Regular movement will help prevent joint swelling and pain. Going for a walk around your neighborhood, through the park or just around your yard will help to keep your muscles loose and hip joints flexible.
7. Stretch Frequently: Stretching plays a very important role in preventing hip injuries. If done correctly after a warm-up, hip stretches help to loosen your muscles, improve blood flow, and keep the joint supple in preparation for any vigorous activity or sport. In addition, stretching after exercise will help prevent muscle soreness and stiffness. Stretches to include in your hip conditioning program include Iliotibial Band Stretch and the Seated Rotation Stretch.