Hip Mobility: What it is and How to Get it.
The hips are made up of the largest and one of the most dynamic joints in the body. The hips are designed to stabilize and mobilize the lower portion of the body. This is actually quite a challenge when we generally understand that stable things are not very mobile. But the hips provide the necessary function for the lower body to work correctly.
Like many other parts of the body, the hips are made up of bones, muscles, and nerves – all of which play a unique role in stability and mobility. The thigh bones run from the knees to the pelvis. As a ball-and-socket joint, the upper end of the femur is the “ball” component of the joint, and the acetabulum, a part of the pelvis, is the socket. Also a part of the hips is the sacrum, which is the bone that supports the lower spine (often called the “tailbone”). The bones are the foundation of the entire hip structure.
Muscles are attached to and woven around the bones of the hip, and each muscle has a different responsibility in providing stability and/or mobility. Some muscles are primarily stabilizers, some are primarily mobilizers, and some are necessary for both functions. The muscles most prominent in the hip structure include the quadriceps, gluteal trio, hip flexors, groin muscles, and hamstrings.
Nerves also extend from the lumbar (lower) spine and connect to the muscles, working much like electrical wiring. As with all nerves, their job is to transfer signals from the brain to the muscles to tell them how to stabilize and/or mobilize the hips.
Cartilage and ligaments also play vital roles in overall hip functionality. These structures work “behind the scenes” as passive structures to cushion and support every movement of the hips. Many doctors refer to them as shock absorbers for the bones.
Hip mobility is the ability of the joint to move properly without pain or stiffness. As people age, they often find that they lack the flexibility of their younger years. This is because as the body ages, muscles generally become weaker and soft tissues are replaced with tougher fibrous tissues. Loss of flexibility correlates to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons changing over time, making them less able to support the joints’ full range of motions.
Injuries can also negatively impact hip mobility. Therefore, before beginning any exercise, it is essential to do slow and careful stretches to improve strength and flexibility. Stretching the hips will open up the hip space, improving strength and decreasing the risk of injury.
Loss of Hip Mobility
When people experience hip tightness or restriction of movement, it will limit the full range of motion in the hip structure. There are many reasons why hips can become restricted, and there are also many ways to improve the loss of hip mobility.
At Medici Spine and Pain, our team utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to manage chronic pain and improve function. If hip pain or loss of hip mobility affects your quality of life, make an appointment today to come see our pain experts.
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