Do you find yourself groaning and walking your hands up your thighs every time you stand up? Are your knees and hips causing you pain every time you go for a stroll? Oftentimes, these symptoms are due to poor hip strength.
Read on to find out:
- Why the hip muscles and hip strength are important
- What you can do to start strengthening your hips today
Why is hip strength and the hip muscles so important?
Stretching and mobility exercises can go a long way in decreasing your pain, but strength is necessary to keep that pain from coming back! Our hip muscles are SO important in keeping us upright and moving us forward. The muscles in the hips impact the function of the low back as well as the knees, which means that it’s crucial to have hip strength for both daily activities and sports performance.
During walking, we generally have two phases: swing and stance. When your right leg is in one phase, the left leg is in the other phase. Therefore, different muscles on either leg are working simultaneously to keep you from stopping or falling to the ground. These muscles work at 3 joints: the ankle, knee and hip. We will focus primarily on the knee and hip.
When you first pick up your leg, the muscles in the front of the hip, aka the hip flexors, are working. As that leg swings through the air, the hamstring muscles work to control the motion. Once that leg hits the ground, your gluteal muscles work in conjunction with the hamstrings and thigh muscles to keep the leg stable.
As you can see, a lot of things are going on behind the scenes to keep you going as you walk! And you thought walking was simple, huh? Muscles of the hip and knee are also hard at work during other activities – squatting, bending, walking up stairs, you name it. If you are weak in these muscles, your body will compensate in various ways that lead to abnormal strain on bones, muscles and joints.
A good hip and knee strengthening program will incorporate exercises in multiple planes of movement, meaning that you will strengthen in the side-to-side and rotational motions, in addition to forward-and-back. Try out the following 3 exercises to increase hip strength and prevent or eliminate hip and knee pain!
If you feel as though your leg muscles just never loosen up, check out our posts on why your hip flexors feel tight, or why stretching your tight hamstrings never seems to work.
Begin improving your hip strength today
If you’ve never done exercises like this before, I’d recommend starting off with 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions at light or no weight to work on form. Do this 3-4 times per week for 2-3 weeks before adding weight or resistance. Once you add weight or resistance, decrease repetitions until you are completing 3 sets of 6-8 repetitions, with the last 2-3 reps being very challenging. There are a multitude of other great hip strengthening exercises out there, so start with these but don’t be afraid to tweak them to find what works best for you!
Give these a try for a few weeks, and if you’re still dealing with pesky hip or knee pain, give us a call at 480-482-0651 or fill out a contact form here and our staff will reach out to you as soon as possible.
Thanks for tuning in, and let us know what other questions you have!
-The DPT Team