For the past few years, a significant portion of the global population has complained to be experiencing hip pain. The symptom involves some kind of a burning sensation or aches which can be of mild or severe intensity. Hip pain doesn’t choose the gender or age, thus, it’s important to take care of your body since your early ages.
So, if anyone can sustain it, what causes hip pain then?
Basic Hip Muscle Anatomy
In human anatomy, the hip consists of two primary parts which form what we call the ball-and-socket.
- Femoral head: This is the piece of bone in the shape of a ball and it’s situated at the top of your femur (also called thighbone)
- Acetabulum: the socket located in your pelvis and it’s where the femoral head fits
The ball connects to the socket through bands of ligaments which also help hold the hip in place and offer it stability. These ligaments form a joint capsule with a thin membrane (bursa) which produces the synovial fluid to lubricate it. Due to the impact when walking, the synovial fluid helps keep the cartilage between the bones of the hip joint healthy.
The hip joint also has muscles and tendons which surrounds it to offer additional support. These muscles include Hamstrings, Iliopsoas muscle, adductor muscles, and Gluteals. With their firm alignment, they make the hip pretty strong, hence, will take a great deal of force to injure it. This, however, doesn’t mean the hip joint isn’t indestructible. When any of these muscles or any other soft tissue around the joint have problems, one is likely to experience pain outside the hip. In hip muscle anatomy, this pain can be felt even on the upper thigh or outer buttock.
If the problems are within the hip joint, on the other hand, you’ll experience pain on the inside of the hip. The condition is referred to as anterior hip pain and it mainly involves inflammation or a bone fracture.
For you to understand these concepts better, let’s look at the most common hip pain problems and the answers to our “WHAT”.
What Causes Hip Pain?
Hip Pain After Sitting
Sitting is a common posture that people use when working at a desk, watch movies, or when traveling. It’s the second basic form of resting after lying but can be dangerous when overdone. Sadly, the society of today tends to spend most of their time in a seated position, leading to increased reports of hip pain.
One of the problems which trigger hip pain after sitting is the Femoroacetabular impingement, also known as hip impingement. Hip impingement is a disorder which results from deformed/ misshapen femoral head or over-deep acetabular socket. The condition mostly occurs in either cam or pincer impingement or even simultaneously, forming a combined impingement.
- Cam impingement– occurs when the femur head isn’t perfectly round and prevents it from moving smoothly within the socket.
- Pincer impingement– takes place when the acetabulum socket extends too far and the femur bone impinges or “bumps” into its rim.
In case you have cam impingement, sitting for prolonged periods can cause the joints to lock. This will lead to a catching sensation within the joint when you stand and it can even impair your movement.
Another disorder that can evoke hip pain after prolonged sitting is Hip bursitis. The condition happens when the fluid-filled bursa inflames and produce excess synovial fluid, causing pain on the outer side of the hip. The hip muscle pain occurs due to repetitive pressure on the joint. In some instances, the pain can be so intense that you might find it hard to get out of your chair.
Hip Pain When Sitting
In addition to muscles and tendons, the human hip also has some major nerves and blood vessels running through it. Some of these vessels include the femoral nerve and artery which passes by the front of the hip. At the back of the hip, there’s the sciatic nerve through which the piriformis muscle connects from the sacrum to the greater trochanter. The greater trochanter is a part of the femur bone, thus, the piriformis has great significance on hip mobility.
As you sit, the piriformis muscle can get strained and cause intense hip pain since the two are now connected. Simple activities like walking will become difficult for you and with time, you’ll feel the pain in other positions of the body.
Hip pain when sitting is also a very common condition for patients of arthritis. While the disease is available in various forms, hip osteoarthritis is what affects the majority of people. The problem arises when the cartilage around the hip joint wears down and causes the ball-and-socket rub against each other.
Hip Pain When Walking
Hip pain when walking can occur for many reasons, ranging from injuries, nerve or alignment issues, and even arthritis. With the injuries, the pain can be felt due to conditions like bursitis, muscle strain, Hip labral tear, or Tendinitis. The latter occurs when the tendons surrounding the muscles and bones get damaged, particularly after a repetitive action.
Pinched nerves can also make you experience hip pain as you walk. The problem crops up when a pinched nerve in the lower back or the nerve in the outer thigh becomes irritated.
Hip Pain When Sleeping On Either Side
In spite of its soothing solace, your form of sleeping can make you develop hip pain. Lateral hip pain is that state you experience when you’re not able to sleep on either side of your hip. Also known as Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS), the discomfort occurs when the gluteal tendons tear, or due to excess pressure to the hip area.
The lateral hip pain can have a significant impact on your overall wellness and day-to-day activities. The hip muscle can become weak and impair your weight-bearing activities such as walking or running.
Sudden Hip Pain and Can’t Walk
In many cases, pain starts in one part of the body, then spreads to other positions. Due to the close alignment of the groin and the hip joint, sometimes it can be difficult to tell what’s causing groin pain or hip pain. Nevertheless, a stretch or tear of the muscles in your groin can cause a sudden hip pain which even impairs your walking. This happens mostly after overusing or overtraining in sports involving running, or after moving your hip in an awkward manner.
An abrupt contraction of the muscles can cause sudden hip pain, affecting its range of motion and stability. This, in turn, makes your leg weak and you’ll find it hard to walk or even stand.
Hip Extension and Hip Stretch Exercises
There are numerous ways in which you can manage an inflaming hip. The doctor can prescribe simple medications like ibuprofen or physiotherapy sessions which you can perform on your own or through help. For the latter, a good example is performing hip stretch exercises to strengthen and make the structure supporting the hip stable.
The hip extension usually involves major hip muscles like gluteus maximus and hamstrings. Thus, they play a very crucial role in stabilizing the pelvis. Surprisingly, hip extension is used in everyday activities such as stair-stepping, walking and even standing up. That, natheless, doesn’t mean you should refrain from exercise.
Some of the benefits of hip extension and hip stretch exercises include:
- Modern lifestyles: due to the prolonged periods of sitting, most people in modern society don’t make enough hip extension moves. Stretching and hip extension exercises help ensure the glutes and hamstrings are properly toned and strong.
- Hip flexion: stretching exercises strengthen hip flexor muscles and help keep them in good shape. Some of these muscles include the iliacus muscle, rectus femoris muscle, and the pectineus muscle. Too much sitting makes these muscles tight and the hamstrings weak, hence, the need for stretching to alleviate the tightness.
- Balance the hip: hip extensors (or the glutes) are located in the back of the hip, while the hip flexors are in the front. When you put much focus on one side, your hip will potentially become imbalanced. Therefore, it’s important you do the hip flexion and extension exercises together to keep the pelvis stable and ensure a safe motion through the hip.
Since you now know the basics and benefits of hip extension and Hip stretch. Let’s now review some of the most effective exercises that you ought to start doing today to care for your hip.
Hip Extension Exercises With/ Without Tools
Squatting is a full-body workout and it involves every muscle in the lower body and most in the upper too. It’s one of the best hip extension exercises as you can work on various muscles by shifting your foot position. When you squat with your feet wider than the shoulder-width, for example, the stress will predominantly work on your adductor muscles. Deep squatting, on the other hand, offers a greater range of movement to the hip while stressing the hamstrings most.
Hip Extension on a Stability Ball
This exercise targets the lower body on the glutes (butt) and hamstrings muscles. To ensure optimum efficiency, it’s important to pick the right size of the ball, while considering aspects like the girth and inflation.
In case you have been diagnosed with the Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome, the ball is not the best option for you. You can perform the prone hip extension while lying on your stomach on the ground. The practice is amongst the most recommended hip bursitis stretches which can help lessen the chronic inflammation and improve flexibility.
Hip Extension with a Resistance Band
The exercise stresses on the glutes as well and it involves the use of a light-to-medium-resistance band. The hip extension with a resistance band is the best workout for the glute as you’ll have to engage the core muscles of each leg.
Hip Stretch Yoga Pose
Yoga is another way you can use to loosen up your tight hips and help keep them strong. It is a great exercise for hip pain as it also stabilizes the hip joint while stretching and enlarging the ligaments and tendons. Some of the best yoga exercises for hip pain are:
Thread the Needle
The Thread the Need stance is an effective way to release tension in the hips, particularly of the piriformis muscle. To perform the exercise you lie on your back and then place the left ankle right below the right knee. As a hip opening practice, the exercise requires you to get up and down from the floor gently and in a controlled manner.
In most of the cases, a hip-opening pose usually focuses on the rotation of the hip socket or lengthening of the psoas muscle. On its end, though, the half pigeon pose assists with both the rotation and lengthening. It’s the ideal yoga for hip pain from prolonged periods of sitting, which causes stiffness and sciatic pain.
Before starting this (and even the other) exercise, it’s very important you learn how to stretch hips correctly first. “FORM” defines every workout and a simple single trip can subject your hip to new or more damages.
Double pigeon (also called Fire Log pose) is an excellent stretch for the overall hip structure. The exercise offers significant stress on the muscles on the hips, groins, and even glutes. Unlike most of the hip-opening poses which stretches one hip, the double pigeon works on both hips at a go. The practice involves stacking the legs in a similar way to logs for a bonfire, hence its name “the fire log pose”.
Low lunge pose is a deep stretching yoga practice that works on various hip musculature, including quadriceps, hamstrings, and iliopsoas. According to the Hindu Sanskrit, the stretching practice is known as the Anjaneyasana and it’s a hip-opening exercise too. Due to the deep stretching, low lunge pose enhances the flexibility of the lower body. When done properly, the stretching pose can offer relief to the areas experiencing the irritating sciatic pain.
This form of yoga is done in a standing posture and it involves stretching of the hip flexors and quadriceps. Crescent lunge pose can also assist in building your balance and stability, as well as strengthen thighs and the psoas muscle. The exercise can even expand your chest and rib cage, which then energizes your body and reduce fatigue.
Though it predominantly targets the spine extension and the core, the supported bridge pose can help relieve the hip pain from prolonged sitting. This enhances your mobility and flexibility during your everyday activities. To do the supported bridge pose you have to have a yoga block, which you will position under your sacrum to maintain a passive backbend. This yoga pose is also a great exercise for the pelvis and hamstrings since its muscles are in use supporting the posture.
While to the eyes it might seem very simple, the Frog pose is an intense hip stretch when done in the appropriate way. The exercise mimics a frog in both the name (Sanskrit “manduka” which means frog) and the posture. To perform this pose, you have to lengthen your spine and walk your knees out wider than your hips. This will open the hips and strengthen the lower back by stretching the muscles in the groins and inner thighs.
Your hip is a very crucial part and shouldn’t be taken for granted. It holds the majority of the body weight, thus, a simple default can lead even to a life-threatening condition. If your job involves a lot of sitting, sit in the right posture and ensure you have time to stretch each day. In case you’re an athlete, avoid overusing your hip structure so as to prevent conditions like Bursitis or muscle spasms. They can ruin your career!
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