As we age, some things seem inevitable. Our hair gets grayer, our skin begins to wrinkle and (hopefully) we gain the perspective of a life well lived. But there is one thing that does not need to be inevitable: hip pain.
While tightness in the hips is a common problem in the senior set, hip pain is not really an age-related problem. In fact, the hip joint is one of the hardiest joints in the body. The trouble is that we’ve often spent 50 plus years sitting too much, failing to stretch the hip flexor muscles and creating alignment issues in our bodies from compensatory movement.
In today’s sedentary lifestyle, most of us sit more than we stand. When we sit, the hip flexors (the muscles used to move the leg up and down and stabilize the spine) are shortened. As years go by, they become shorter and shorter, often causing pain and mechanical problems not only in the hips but also in the feet, knees and back. This problem is compounded by sleeping in some positions, failing to stretch and overlooking the hip flexors in our workout routines. The gluteus muscles in our buttocks, also important for hip mobility, are weakened by sitting for long periods of time, as well. It makes sense, then, that so many of us end up complaining of tight, sore hips as we age.
We can certainly help loosen those tight hips with an effective stretching program, but even those people who have other aches and pains should consider focusing on the hip flexors. Improving the condition of your hips can benefit you in many ways, from reducing lower back and knee pain to improving your golf swing. Other steps you can take to reduce hip pain include
- maintaining a healthy weight
- staying active and adding hip-strengthening exercises as well
- eating a healthy, calcium-rich diet
- learning about fall prevention
Most importantly, do not wait until you are in severe pain before doing something about your hip discomfort. The earlier you come to see us and begin a program designed especially for you, the sooner you can start to improve your hip flexibility and strength, and the better your chances of keeping your body moving well and feeling great.