Exercise improves overall health and well-being, contributing to a long and healthy life. Working out further keeps your hips in tip-top shape. It improves hip strength, preventing pain later on and maintaining your mobility.
Yet if you aren’t careful, it can also cause injury leading to setbacks. And unfortunately, hip pain often escalates - impacting not just the hips, but also the low back, knees, ankles, and feet. After all, everything in the body is connected.
So, where could you be going wrong? What is causing your hip pain?
COMMON MISTAKES CAUSING HIP PAIN:
- You’ve Been Ignoring Abductor and Adductor Exercises
What does this mean? Your abductors move your leg to the side, away from your body. The adductors do the opposite, bringing the leg inward. If you fail to do any lateral or side-to-side exercises, you likely have imbalances relating to adductor or abductor muscle weakness.
In other words, you are missing more than half of hip movement and strengthening. It leaves your hips and back susceptible to injury since they lack support in side movements. If this sounds like you, you need to start incorporating side shuffles or side leg lifts into your regular routine.
- You Allow Your Knees to Fall Inward During Squats and Lunges
During lunging and squatting exercises, your knees should track over top of your ankle. If they are falling inward, work on correcting your form. This might involve going for a lighter weight to avoid improper technique. When your knees draw inward, it pulls on the tissue on the outside of your legs. Over time, this can aggravate and irritate tendons and bursae at the hip - causing, you guessed it, pain.
If this happens, you may have to avoid exercises involving the hip until your pain levels improve. And unfortunately, that includes an array of exercises, such as deadlifts, squats, lunges, weighted clean presses that involve hip activation, and other leg or full body movements. If you continue with this type of injury, you risk creating an even bigger problem - like a torn tendon.
- Overstretching the Hip Joint
While stretching is great for flexibility and recovery, overdoing it can cause serious problems. Too much flexibility at the hip can cause wearing down of the joint itself. In turn, this can eventually lead to painful hip osteoarthritis. Further, if you stretch any muscle too much, you risk pulling the muscle. For example, if you overdo a groin stretch and experience pain afterward - you’ve likely just pulled your groin muscles. The average recovery time for a pulled muscle is anywhere from 3-6 weeks.
- You Aren’t Engaging Your Core
Surprisingly, most exercises require some level of core engagement. This keeps your body stabilized and upright. For example, during the squat, it prevents your body from leaning too far forward. This core activation is critical to keep the stress off of your hips. Always check your form and make sure you are activating your abdominal muscles.
HIP INJURY PREVENTION
Fixing the above issues may help prevent hip injury. But what else should you be doing? Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Perform a proper warm-up at the start of each workout. A light jog or any activity that gets the body warm is appropriate. Aim for a duration of about 5-10 minutes.
- If you experience pain during your workout, stop and adjust your form. If the pain continues, completely stop the exercise. You may have already caused an injury, and you may aggravate the condition by continuing. In other words, know your limits. Don’t push yourself beyond them. Listen to your body. Slowly and gradually progress your workouts.
- Wear appropriate footwear. You want shoes that are supportive and designed for the activity you are performing. For example, if your sport of choice is long-distance running, you want long-distance running shoes that are cushioned and that protect your feet (and in turn, your knees and hips!).
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can add stress to your joints and promote wear and tear.
- If hip pain does occur, book an appointment with your doctor. Early treatment is crucial to optimal recovery time and process.
EDUCATING YOURSELF IS STEP 1 TOWARD INJURY PREVENTION
Knowing the potential risks or common mistakes leading to hip pain can help you avoid injury, as well as setbacks. Educate yourself. Implement it. And become stronger - one workout at a time.