Osteoarthritis is common in the hip, since we are weight-bearing creatures. Our hips do a lot for us when walking, standing, running, stretching, and carrying on with daily life. Because we’re bipedal, our hips work hard every day for us. Over time, this leads to wear-and-tear of the cartilage that lines the hip joint, and it can become stiff and painful.
A common symptom of osteoarthritis is stiffness in the morning that lasts around an hour but improves as you go through your day. Since we want to keep you moving, having good hip strength is vital to long-term benefits. Here are four exercises you can do to get started:
Bridges. Lay on your back, bend your knees, and keep your feet on the ground. Press your heels to the floor and bring your hips up toward the ceiling. Hold for 3 seconds at the top, and slowly lower back down. Repeat 12 to 15 times; up to 20 if this is easy.
Sidelying hip abduction. While not the most functional position, this exercise targets muscles on the side of your hip. Lay on your side. Raise the top leg toward the ceiling, hold 3 seconds, and slowly lower down. Make sure that your leg is in line with your body, almost behind you. If it’s too far forward, you’re not using the abductors. Repeat up to 20 times if it’s easy.
Step-ups. Using your front step or stairs in the house; make sure you can hold on to something for safety. Place your entire foot on the step, heel included if you can, and step up. The trick is to keep your knee from traveling past your toe; this alignment helps target the right muscles (your “glutes,” gluteus maximus primarily). If this feels easy, move slowly. Step up slowly, and lower down slowly. Repeat 12 to 15 times.
Mini squats. This is another exercise where you will need to watch where your knees are. Stand up straight, then think about sticking your butt out behind you, as if you are about to sit in a chair. Bend down about half-way, then stand up again. Use the same approach as the others; if it’s easy, move slowly. Perform 15 repetitions.
These are not the be-all-end-all when it comes to hip arthritis, but they are simple exercises that do not require any equipment. Recognize that every person has different needs, and these may be too easy, or too hard for you. If that’s the case, give us a call and we’ll design a program just for you! Remember, “motion is lotion,” and the more you can move, the easier it will be to keep moving. Sounds good, right?
By Laura Vroman