I have said this before, but can’t keep myself from repeating it, our bodies are amazing things. The fact that our bodies can do all that they can, even while we are abusing it and not treating it kindly shows what a miraculous invention our Father bestowed upon us. However, I know that even when we are treating our bodies with kindness and doing all that we can to keep it strong and healthy, sometimes it just begins giving us odd, and sometimes painful, little messages. Sometimes things just don’t feel right and things get a little unbalanced or out of whack.
If you are active then you likely know what I mean. If you are a runner especially, or do some sort of high impact exercise regularly, or even if you are a fast walker, you might feel things begin to ache or get little pains here and there – and oftentimes it’s in your knees. Most folks have some sort of knee issue at some time or another. Or at least we think it’s in the knees. This is the amazing part about our bodies – sometimes if the knee hurts, the problem isn’t even the knee, the pain may be caused by a weakness or unbalance in some other part of the body – and guess what? It’s commonly coming from the hips. Yep. And until the actual hip begins acting up you may have absolutely no idea that that part of the body is actually the culprit.
I was reading a great article in Runner’s World on helping runners with knee pain strengthen their hips and it is exactly something I have experienced. It made me feel a little better knowing that it just wasn’t me and it’s a pretty common event. I have had a time when my left knee was giving me a fit. I finally went to the ortho, did physical therapy and after a lot of trial and error and seeing different folks, it was finally determined that the problem came from my hip all along. I surely wish I’d, or someone, had looked at that before I went through all the PT for my knee!
Sometimes weak or unbalanced hips can cause pain in the foot and ankle, as well as the knee. Weak hips are often the culprit behind patellofemoral syndrome, Achilles tendinitis, and iliotibial-band syndrome, according to Reed Ferber, Ph. D., director of the University of Calgary’s Running Injury Clinic. “Inadequate hip muscle stabilization is a top cause of injury in runners,” he says. “The hips need to be strong to support the movement of the feet, ankles, and knees.”
In 2007, Ferber conducted a study of 284 patients who complained of leg pain. He found that 93 percent of them had weak hip muscles. After putting these people on a targeted strength program, 90 percent of them were pain-free within six weeks.
Exercises to strengthen the hips should be a part of any runner’s or active persons routine. You can begin slowly and work your way up. If the issue is actually coming from your hips then you should be able to see some improvement in a matter of weeks. Again, I can testify to this. I’ve added more focus to improving the strength in my hips – my left one especially that somehow has gotten out of balance – and I can see such a huge improvement in pain, strength and range of motion.
Here are some exercised to add to your routine. These are straight out of the Runner’s World Magazine, but they are also some of the very same ones I’ve been doing.
SEATED HIP EXTERNAL ROTATOR
1. Attach a resistance band to the left end of a bench and loop the other end around your right foot.
2. Keeping your knees together, lift your right leg out to a count of two, then release back down to a count of two.
3. Repeat on the other leg.
STANDING HIP FLEXOR
1. Put your right foot in the resistance band and turn so you are facing away from the band’s anchor.
2. Keeping your right leg straight, lift it forward to a count of two, then release it back down to a count of two.
3. Repeat on the other leg.
STANDING HIP ABDUCTOR
1. Anchor a resistance band to a stable object.
2. Loop the other end around your right foot so the band crosses in front of you.
3. Standing with your left leg slightly behind you, keep your right leg straight and lift it out to the side. Lift it to a count of two, then release it back down to a count of two.
4. Repeat on the other leg.
The article also had a great test you can do to see if your hips are weak. Again, I’ve copied it straight from the article, so know I’m taking no credit for coming up with this!
THE TEST: Do a one-legged squat
THE VERDICT: If your knees collapse inward, your hips are probably weak.
THE TEST: Stand with your right foot on a step, the left dangling in the air, your hands on your hips. Slowly raise your left hip up, and then release back down.
THE VERDICT: If you can’t do two sets of 10 reps without holding onto a wall for balance, your hips are weak.
THE TEST: Sit on the edge of a bench and lie back. Pull your right leg in to your chest; let your left leg hang down.
THE VERDICT: If your left thigh lifts off the table, your hips are tight.
Check out the Runner’s World article HERE.
And, don’t forget, whether you are a runner or not, sitting makes
the hip flexors super tight, so get up from your desk or out of your car from time to time and give your poor hip flexors a good stretch. They will thank you!
Just a little info to keep us all active and healthy!
Have you had a knee issue? Has anyone ever told you it was your hip? Have you ever noticed how our bodies react so differently than what we would imagine?
Enjoy Your Day!