Healthy Hip Tips for an Active Life
Our hips are designed to withstand a lot. As some of the largest joints in the body, they’re our load-bearers as we work and play. Of course, that means wear and tear, whether from simple aging, injury, or other chronic conditions. Our hips are tough, but they’re not indestructible.
Still, hip pain doesn’t mean a life sentence to sitting down—in fact, achy or stiff hips (and all the radiating pains that come with them) are often a signal to add more movement to your day. There are plenty of safe and healthy ways to limber up and keep your body in motion for years to come.
It may seem counterintuitive, but when you experience hip pain, too much sitting or resting is a sure-fire way to amplify the problem. Even a small amount of movement added to your day is beneficial—you don’t have to be a bodybuilder or pay for an expensive gym membership to get moving.
Seek out ways to increase both your strength and your flexibility. Opt for low-impact aerobic exercises, such as swimming, stationary biking, or elliptical exercising. These activities are easy on your joints while providing cardio and flexibility benefits.
And don’t overlook strength training—exercising the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core should be an important part of your care plan. These muscles all surround the joint and help stabilize your movements, reducing pain in the long-term. A resistance band or some light dumbbells can be a wonderful investment to get started, but there are also plenty of bodyweight exercises and stretches that require no equipment and can be done anywhere in the home.
No matter what the cause of your discomfort, inflammation can only make things worse. And though food may be the last place you look to cure an ailing hip, a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can actually help reduce inflammation in your body.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish like salmon, anchovies, herring, and tuna, as well as nuts like walnut and pecan. Be sure to stock up on leafy green vegetables too! One simple swap you can make in your cooking is to replace butter with olive oil or flaxseed oil, both rich in Omega-3s.
If you haven’t yet, try making the switch to whole grains. Scan your food labels for ingredients like whole wheat or whole oat flour—doing so can stabilize your blood sugar, which means less risk for the inflammation that high or wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause.
What to Avoid
Movement and exercise are key, but there are a few activities to avoid with hip pain. Walking is a great way to get active, just make sure that you’re on level ground—anything too uneven, such as a hiking trail, can compound the pain. Hold off on any high-impact running or jumping routines as well.
When it comes to strength training, don’t go too heavy. Lifting heavy weights can add pressure to your joints. Exercises that require extreme ranges of motion—anything more than 90 degrees of bend at the hip or knee—fall into the “don’t” category as well. Deep squats, lunges, and step-ups are examples.
As for your diet, watch for foods that worsen inflammation. Omega-6 fatty acids are the worst culprits, often found in processed foods like crackers and chips, fast food, and packaged baked goods. Try to reduce the number of prepackaged meals you eat throughout the week, as well as snack items that come in boxes or bags.
Calling for Backup from the Pros
Though these lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms, it’s important not to ignore your hip pain. If it becomes severe or lasts longer than a few days, make an appointment with OrthoSports Associates—our experienced physicians are here to help you maintain the quality of life you deserve!