As a physical therapist, I am in the business of prescribing exercise. It is something I do all the time – all day, every day. As a physical therapist, I am also in the business of treating pain related to the joints in the back and knees. These two joints contribute a good portion of the pain that a lot of us experience every day. At the Fit Stop, these two areas (back and knees) make up the largest portion of what we treat every day. That being said, it may come as something of a surprise, that when I prescribe exercise for these two joints, a good chunk of those exercises actually have to do with the hip joints. Does this make sense? I believe it makes a lot of sense. Today, one of our orthopedic specialists, Toby Bluth, will explain why we look to the hips when we treat back and knee pain, and share a few of his favorite hip exercises with you.
The muscles of the hip are made up of a group of very powerful, important muscles. These are the muscles that are responsible for moving our legs in all different directions. Having hip muscles that work properly is essential in performing the most basic tasks of life, such as walking and going up and down stairs. But even beyond these basic functions, the hips also serve as a vital link. The hip is the all important connector between the upper and lower halves of our body. Because of this connecting link, the hip wields a powerful influence on other joints in the body, above and below it, such as the low back and the knee joints. If you experience a problem with the hips, such as tightness or weakness, then you are more likely to have a problem in the low back and knees. Just think of the joints in our body as the links in a chain, you move one link in the chain and you affect the other links, up and down the line. In the human body, the hip is a very important and influential link the the proverbial chain.
Over recent years, this analogy has been proven in the research world. It has been shown that weakness in the muscles of hip is a contributing factor to some types of knee pain. In an active population, such as runners, not having good strength and endurance in the hips, can put excess strain on the knee cap, causing anterior knee pain. Also, having tight hip muscles, such as the hip flexors and hamstring muscles, has been linked to an increased likelihood of developing low back pain. If these muscles are pulling tight on the pelvis, then the “chain” is affected, causing increased strain on the joints of the low back, possibly causing some low back pain. The same could be said about weak hip muscles and its relationship to low back pain. Have weak hip and leg muscles, and the back will have to take more of the stress and strain of life during such simple tasks, such as bending and lifting activities.
From my experience, the muscles of the hip joint are some of the most neglected. However, from my point of view as a physical therapist, this can be a big mistake. Making the attached exercises a part of your regular exercise routine can pay big dividends. I believe that a consistent focus on these muscle groups can help avoid pain and heartache when it comes to the common problems of the low back and knee joints.
Click on the image above to receive your free hip exercise program download!
So start these new exercises today, and let your physical therapist at the Fit Stop know if you have any problems or questions. We would love to help! Contact us at one of our 4 conveniently-located clinics below…