Meet Your Hips

Make ’em happy


Hips re­ally don’t lie—when some­thing isn’t right with them, you of­ten hear about it from other parts of your body.

1 In­ge­nious De­sign

Your hips are built like the joy­stick of a video game con­troller: A ball on the end of your fe­mur (or thigh­bone) fits into a socket. The de­sign al­lows you to lift, ro­tate, and shift your legs in many di­rec­tions, smoothly glid­ing around so you can salsa, squat, kick, or step over your kid’s dirty laun­dry pile…again. Ver­sa­tile, right? The fact is, your hips—sec­ond to your shoul­ders—are among the most mo­bile joints in your body.

2 The Root of Your Aches

If you have un­ex­plained pain in your groin, knees, or lower back, it could be be­cause your hips aren’t do­ing so well. In­flam­ma­tion, arthri­tis, and in­juries can cause you to walk oddly or sit with poor pos­ture. Over­com­pen­sat­ing for the pain can put pres­sure on the spine plus knees and other joints, caus­ing dam­age over time. Also, the hips are the hub of many nerves that con­nect to other ar­eas of the body, so if you ir­ri­tate a nerve in your hip, you might feel it in your keis­ter.

For­tu­nately, pain that is rooted in the hips can of­ten be al­le­vi­ated by rest, anti-in­flam­ma­tory drugs, or phys­i­cal ther­apy, says Ni­cholas DiNu­bile, M.D., an orthopedic sur­geon in Haver­town, PA. Los­ing ex­tra pounds can take pres­sure off those joints too.

3 Smart Sit­ting

Too much sit­ting can tighten hips, even­tu­ally caus­ing the fe­mur to grind against its socket’s edge. Good sit­ting pos­ture can help: Sit tall with your feet flat on the floor, keep­ing your knees at the same level as your hips. Try not to slouch or lean to one side too much, and get up at least ev­ery hour to keep your hips mo­bile. Af­ter a long day, try a supine twist: Lie faceup on the floor, arms in a T, palms down. Keep­ing your left leg straight, bend your right knee and place that foot on your left knee. Ex­hale and al­low grav­ity to pull your right knee to­ward the left side. Don’t force it—go only as low as you can with your shoul­ders flat on the floor. Hold for a few breaths. In­hale to bring your leg up; switch sides.

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