According to the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, weak hip muscles contribute to poor hip motion which can cause back, hip and knee pain. Repetitive strain injuries of the hip, knee and ankle joints can also develop as a result of weak hip joint muscles.
Weak hips have also been implicated as the causes of sciatica, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) and patellofemoral joint pain (runner’s knee). A study reported in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that runners who had injuries had weaker hip abductors and flexors on their injured side.
Another study by Ireland et al that evaluated 15 women with runner’s knee found that injured runners had weaker muscles that abduct and externally rotate their hip joints when compared to those who were not injured.
Strong hips are therefore important for women since they reduce the risk of developing numerous injuries. For those who have already sustained these injuries, strengthening the hip muscles can relieve the pain, since the Journal of Athletic Training reports that increasing the strength of the hip abductor muscles reduces patellofemoral joint pain.
SINGLE LEG BRIDGE
One of the easiest hip exercises is the single leg bridge, which strengthens the gluteal muscles that extend and abduct the hip. To do this exercise, lie facing upward and bend your knees while ensuring that your feet are flat on the floor. Straighten the right leg and lift it about 15 inches from the floor. Tighten your abdominals and lift your hips until you make a bridge with your trunk. Hold the position for 3 seconds and then slowly lower your body. Do 10 repetitions of this exercise on each side.
Another simple exercise that strengthens the extensors and abductors of the hip joints is the ball bridge. To do this exercise, lie supine and rest your straight legs on a therapy ball. Tighten your abdominals and lift your backside from the floor until it forms a straight line with your legs. Hold this position for 3 seconds and then slowly lower your body. Do 10 repetitions on each side.
The Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy also reports that the clam exercise can be used to strengthen the hip. To do this exercise, lie on your right side with your knees bent and rotate the top leg upwards. Change sides and repeat with the other leg.
Written by: Marian Kim, FizzNiche Staff Writer