By Laurie Sweig
Published Feb. 14, 2019
Our hips are a ball and socket joint where the femur (thigh bone) meets the pelvic bone. The beauty of this type of joint is that it moves in all directions. If you want to see just how amazing it is watch a child move around or sit on the floor. It amazes me that I was once able to move in that way. Any mobility that we have lost over the years has very little to do with aging. It is a result of sitting too much.
Our brilliant bodies work to make us comfortable in the position that we spend most of our time in. On average, Canadians spend 10 hours a day sitting. We sit while we eat, drive, work, watch TV and this was my big “ah ha” moment, while we sleep. If you sleep in the fetal position (I do) then you’re essentially in the sitting position – only horizontally. All of that time in that “crouched” means there is tension in the muscles that keep your legs bent at the hips and knees.
Also the muscles that keep your legs together when you’re seated are constantly working to hold that position. This all creates dysfunctional hip joints.
Having a locked joint, especially one as important as our hips, means that other parts of our bodies have to do the work to move us in the directions we want to go. While we’re able to complete the movement we intend to do, it ultimately means that other joints are working in ways they shouldn’t be. Knee, ankle and foot pain can be the result of locked up hips. Back pain can be added to this list as well.
It’s time to get those hips moving. There are a number of ways to do that. The following methods are a good starting point:
Standing Rear Leg Raise: Grab on to something secure for balance. Stand up straight and raise one leg (keep it straight) straight back behind you in a very slow motion. Do not tilt your upper body forward to make this happen. Repeat three to five per leg daily or more if you can.
Standing Side Leg Raise: Grab on to something secure for balance. Stand up straight and raise one leg (keep it straight) to the side in a very slow motion. Do not tilt your body upper sideways as you are lifting the leg. Repeat three to five per leg daily or more if you can.
Sit on the floor: That’s right. Get down on the floor when you have that choice and sit there without leaning up against anything. Sit with your legs in as many different positions as you can. Look up the 90/90 Hip Stretch. It’s an amazing way to get those hips unlocked.
The sooner you get working on increasing the range of motion of your hips the better your body will feel, and the more you will move. Start slowly. Don’t push to a point of pain. Even five minutes on the floor for every hour you normally spend on the couch is an investment in getting your hips to work the way they were meant to.
Something to think about.
Laurie Sweig is a certified personal fitness trainer and spinning instructor. She owns and operates The Point for Fitness. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.