The hips are an often over looked and under utilised part of the body, yet I can’t stress just how important they are. When not correctly strengthened they can often be the origin of a lot of knee and lower back pain and if severely functioning incorrectly, can lead to early hip arthritis.
However, when functioning well, can lead to a vast improvement and cessation of many knee, hip and lower back complaints. In an athlete they can lead to a large improvement in performance and injury reduction.
The hip is similar to the neck, lower back and shoulder in that it has its own ‘core’ muscles that are responsible for keeping the hip in the middle of the joint, or ‘centrated’ as it is known. ‘Centration’ is a very important thing to understand, the hip is a ‘ball and socket’ joint as you can see in the picture below, where the head of the femur (upper leg) is the ‘ball’ and the cup in which it sits in the pelvis is the ‘socket’.
they must first be lengthened and then strengthened. To strengthen them, a set of exercises that can be done at home are called ‘clam shells’. The Clam shell routine is designed to strengthen up key musculature around the hip including the most important part, the deep hip rotators. Once these are strengthened you effectively have a solid foundation upon which to work.
There are progressions of these hip exercises to make them more challenging such for the athletic individual, however when in the rehab phase after an injury these exercises are great. I will at some point start doing my own Youtube videos as I find technique lacks in a lot of the videos currently available.
Performing these exercises regularly when the hips are not in pain can help prevent hip osteoarthritis. If however, the hips are already painful it is best to stretch and use lots of ice packs (10-15 mins every 2 hours) to calm the musculature down before attempting any strengthening routines.