The hip joints are 2 very important joints that can often be the source of pain. The ball and socket of the hip joint is very similar in shape to the shoulder joint except that the socket of the hip is much deeper than that of the shoulder. The shape of both joints really promotes their roles in creating and allowing or movement of the limbs. While the shoulder is capable of more movement, it is also inherently more unstable and tends to have issues with excessive movement. The hip on the other hand is not quite as mobile as the shoulder and often becomes problematic when it doesn’t move enough.
Our lower body is structured according to the shape and function of each area. We have alternating patterns of stability and mobility that occur in sequence as we move from the feet up to the spine. Starting at the foot we need a stable base for effective force transfer, however at the ankle we want mobility. The knee is designed for limited mobility and is better geared towards stability. The hips are ultimately designed for mobility as they position our limbs for the various movements we undertake. Finally the lower back is designed to be stable so that we can effectively use our limbs.
When we are lacking in either the mobility or stability required by these areas, we often try to compensate for this by shifting the job up or down a joint. When the knee moves too much, the hips try to move less to stabilise the lower body. When the lower back is unstable, again the hips try to move less to create the stability that is lacking. This is commonly felt as stiffness and tightness, when ultimately it is a coping mechanism of the body, and often stretches alone will not remove the stiff or tight feeling.
How mobile is your hip?
Lying on your back can you bring your knee towards your chest? You should easily be able to bend the knee past the hip itself. Sitting in a chair cross one foot over the thigh of the other leg and see how far down your knee can move. You should be able to bring it down so that your knee is only slightly higher than your foot.
If you do suffer from hip pain it is important to look at the areas either side of the hip joints to find out what may have created the overload on the hips in the first place so that the pain doesn’t keep coming back!