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.