Patrick Henry said,”Give me liberty or give me death.”
You can let freedom ring after a hip replacement – if you are one of the 300,000 annual hip replacement patients in the US! Or if you just want to keep a healthy hip, learn some exercises that are sure to keep you hip and hop!
The hip joint has three degrees of freedom, which means that it moves in three different planes: the sagittal plane: flexion/extension; the frontal plane: abduction/adduction; and the transverse plane: external/internal rotation.
Don’t let the doctor keep you in stitches on the “hipnotic” battlefield – learn to strengthen the hip joint and laugh your way into old age! Shake your left leg, take two steps then throw a left hook out of left field as you perform fundamental movements from the hip joint.
The hip joint is a ball and socket joint between the head of the femur and the socket of the pelvis. The hip has a joint capsule, which is a flexible sac around the joint allowing multiple movements such as the following (from a standing position): flexion – forward leg movement; extension – backward leg movement; abduction – leg moves away from sides; adduction – leg moves toward other leg; internal rotation – toes pointing toward each other; and external rotation – toes pointing away from each other. Avoid excessive flexion, adduction and internal rotation of the hip for the first six weeks after a hip replacement surgery. General info for patients with hip replacements include not bending the hip beyond 90 degrees, not bringing legs and knees together (adduction, internal rotation), and not crossing legs (adduction). The first task is easing patients into weight bearing exercises such as walking. For people without a hip replacement, their walking can tell a lot about their hip health.
Walking transfers body weight from hip joint to hip joint. Walking is divided into two phases, which include the stance phase, where one leg is standing on the ground; and the swing phase, where one leg is off the ground swinging forward to make the next step.
During the swing phase of a walk, the toes are prevented from hitting the ground because the gluteus medius on the stance side contracts, tilting the pelvis upward and lifting the leg clear of the ground.
A weak gluteus medius causes the pelvis to dip downward during the swing phase. The gluteus medius can be weak due to either an L5 nerve root lesion in the spine, proximal myopathy (muscular dystrophy, hip osteoarthritis) or congenitial hip deformities.
Calculations have been made using vector diagrams during the stance phase of walking. They show that four times the body weight is applied to the load-bearing surface of the hip joint. Therefore, being overweight places an increased burden on the hip joints, leading to premature osteoarthritis. Throw ideas of osteoarthritis out the window and start losing weight and strengthening the hip in rewarding workouts!
Strengthening and gaining flexibility in the hip joint should be a priority through proper conditioning and balance training. Flexibility can be gained by stretching out one leg while standing on the other, then bending the outstretched leg 90 degrees.
Strengthening can be achieved by looping a Thera-Band loop around the ankles and alternating mini squats for 30-60 seconds. A balance exercise can be achieved by standing on one leg for 30-60 seconds.
Beware of hip joint red flags! Some of the red flags are at half mast when there are some of the following casualties to the body: pain and swelling, pain when bearing weight on lower extremities, and discomfort or inability to sleep on the hip.
Exercises can prevent the red flags when they form good conditioning habits and utilize cross training. Patients with hip replacements can build strength comfortably through cross training in the water. Therapeutic water training is the best form of exercise for gaining flexibility and range of motion, especially in patients with a concern for their hip joint health. Anyone with a goal of increasing their hip joint degrees of freedom can have an effortless return of hip advancements in water training.