The hip withstands tremendous forces over our lifetime. Walking, running, standing and stairs really put huge forces through this joint. This can be in the order of up to 800% of our body weight for activities such as running and jumping. Astounding!
Arthritis and pain in the hip is a common complaint as we age, and when considering these forces, there is no wonder why. Erosion and thinning of the joint cartilage, the formation of osteoarthritic bone spurs, and lack of joint lubrication are all a natural response of any joint in our body to these loads. But, we can delay this ageing effect with a few strategies.
- Building muscular support. This is a huge one! Just think, if you have a string set of muscles surrounding the hip, they buffer some of these loads through absorption of the daily forces we are putting through our hip. Strong glutes, quads and core will all support your hip better.
- Good pelvic posture and stability. The hip lives in the pelvis, so an improved strength around here and your trunk generally will help with better hip alignment. Think of your level and controlled pelvic foundation with all you do, and build deep abdominal strength to be able to hold it there!
- Stack you hips over your ankles. This very simple (but constant, if able) mindfulness on your posture will allow the hips to withstand forces when you are upright. Did you know that the hip joint has thicker bone at the top of the joint socket? This is to sustain these exact daily loads. Standing with your hips pushed forward as we see in a 'sway backed' posture misses this thicker bone, placing more force through the thinner bone at the front of your joint. This can wear out your cartilage here quicker, risking the early onset of hip arthritis.
So, stand in front of a mirror and practice placing your hips directly above outer ankle bones, just like the picture above. It is not rocket science, but for some of us, may feel very odd indeed. Like anything, the more your practice, the more you will be become aware of your pelvis, hip and leg. Habits die hard, but you will begin to notice your 'bad' hip postures more often, and know how to 'make good.' After all, avoiding hip pain and a hip replacement down the track are a great incentive to make little changes like these.