Sitting, standing, walking, bending over — these are just some of the more common movements that you make throughout the day that rely on healthy, functioning hips. To keep these large, ball-and-socket joints working well, strengthening and stretching them is paramount.
To get you started, Western Orthopaedics’ resident hip expert, Dr. Brian White, and our team of physical therapists want to focus on five exercises and stretches that can go a long way toward healthy hips. If you want to avoid the outcome that more than 600,000 adults in the United States face each year when they undergo hip replacement surgery, acting now to preserve your hips is a great idea.
1. Try an easy chair stretch
If you spend long hours in a chair, why not use some of this time to stretch out your hips? Take a break from your screen and lift one leg and place your ankle on top of your opposite knee. Straighten your back and slowly bend forward, which will stretch both your back and your hip. Hold the stretch and then straighten up again. You can try this stretch on each side and repeat 3-5 times.
2. Strike a (child’s) pose
Yoga is a fantastic practice for stretching most every part of your body, including your hips. In fact, one of the common poses — the child’s pose — works very well on your hips. To strike a child’s pose, sit down on the floor with your knees bent underneath you. Now, spread your knees apart at about 45 degrees, lean forward and stretch your arms straight out in front of you. Try to get your upper body as close to the floor as possible. Hold this stretch for about 3-5 minutes.
3. Do squats
Some of the best strengthening exercises for your hips are squats. Stand with your feet about hip’s width apart and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Place most of the weight into your heels so that you engage your glutes and protect your back. You can try a series of 10 squats, counting a slow 1-2-3 on the way down and on the way back up to standing.
4. Form a bridge
Lie on the floor, bend your knees, and bring the backs of your feet as close to your bottom as possible. Now, slowly press through your heels and raise your hips into the air and hold. Here again, try a slow 1-2-3 count on the way up, hold the bridge at the top for 3 seconds, and then count your way back down going from 3 to 1. Repeat the bridge 10 times.
5. Try fire hydrants
The name of this exercise is for the motion a male dog makes when he urinates — lifting one leg. To execute a fire hydrant, get on the floor on your hands and knees and make sure your lower back isn’t arched, but in a neutral position. Keeping your head down, lift one bent leg up as far as it can go, but don’t pass the point where it’s no longer parallel to the floor.
Lift each leg about 10 times each, slowly and rhythmically.
As you gain strength in your hips, you can add more repetitions of the exercises we mention above. As well, we urge you to stretch your hips both before and after you do these exercises.
Of course, there are many more stretches and strengthening exercises we can recommend for your hips, and we’re happy to tailor a plan to your needs. To get started, contact one of our offices in Denver or Arvada, Colorado.