Strengthen Your Hip Joint!

October 22, 2008

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.

 

A Normal Hip Joint

A Normal 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.

An Unhealthy Hip Joint

An Unhealthy Hip Joint

 

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.

 

Alicia Weber is an Aquatic Therapist that offers personal & group sessions in Central Florida.  Contact her at 352-874-4363 for a FREE Consultation or to set up an appointment.

Alicia Weber is an Aquatic Therapist that offers personal & group sessions in Central Florida. Contact her at 352-874-4363 for a FREE Consultation or to set up an appointment.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

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Coordination Takes Some Practice

October 12, 2008

A rabbit asked the turtle if it could hurdle. The turtle had to ‘think’ if it must use its shoulder girdle.

Coordination is a thinking process which combines harmonious movements. Coordination is synchronization of muscular movements after the muscles receive signals from the brain.

A decline in coordination can be related to lack of nutrition or not using certain skills, unless one has a disease that affects coordination such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, or cerebral palsy.

A giraffe’s movements become awkward as it bends and turns its elongated neck. In people, head turning, reaching, and crawling are innate movements, but other movements, such as balancing on one foot, must be conditioned through reflexes and response.

It takes great effort to bend over!

It takes great effort to bend over!

According to the 1997 edition of Exercise Physiology for Health, Fitness, and Performance, a reflex is a rapid, involuntary response (hitting your knee with a rubber mallet) that results in a specific motor response (getting a leg jerk), with that response being dependent on the type and duration of the stimulus received (the harder you hit, the harder the leg jerks).

Body movement feedback moves in and out of the spinal cord to the brain and then through spinal nerves to your limbs to conduct the necessary movement. If you are no longer able to carry out a certain movement, it is time to work on your neuromuscular function through balance training.

A lungfish is known to have fins and feet, but it is a better swimmer than a walker. It can be seen bumbling to and fro as it wobbles on sand. Some people claim they feel the same way about their walking.

The African Lungfish

The African Lungfish

The good news is that balance exercises improve coordination. Several beneficial balance exercises include side jumps with legs together, side squat lunges, and step-ups on an aerobic box.

If your walking “beats the bands,” but you are like a butter-fingered koala bear trying to catch a ball, it is time to work on hand-eye coordination. Helpful exercises include bouncing a ball against a wall, squatting, then catching the ball on the way up from the squat; or seeing how many many times you can bounce a tennis ball on a racket before it bounces off.

After honing skills, it is appropriate to hone nutrition. When it comes to hand-eye coordination, beta-carotene and lutein can strengthen eyes. Other nutritional elements that have been known to enhance endurance and prevent fatigue and lack of focus are magnesium and calcium.

Olympic biathlon contenders have improved their concentration and precision in the rifle event after taking B-complex vitamins.

When it comes down to total body harmony, joints need to be able to move fully and freely, and this can be accomplished through total body conditioning with an emphasis in neuromuscular training.

*If you need to improve coordination and neuromuscular function, Alicia Weber, the fitness trainer can develop the right ‘balancing act’ for you. She trains people in Central and South Florida and online. Contact her at Alicia1@Awinningway.ws for help.