Low-Impact Hip Pain Exercises for Strength and Flexibility

Healthy senior couple stretching outdoors

Did you know that the hip joint is one of the most common sites of joint pain and osteoarthritis? This is because we rely so much on our hips to carry our body weight and manage basic, daily movements such as walking and running. That’s why it’s so important to maintain hip strength and flexibility as we age. However, if you are experiencing hip pain as you age it may seem too difficult to give your hips the exercise that they need each day. In this article, we will share some simple, low-impact hip pain exercises that you can do at home to help build up strength and flexibility.

First, let’s get to know our hips a little bit better! The hip joint is a “ball-and-socket” synovial joint, which means it allows for a wide range of motion. Each hip joint is responsible for bearing the weight and managing the movement of the lower half of each side of the body.  Healthy hip joints are able to accommodate more intense movements such as running or jumping. When hip joints are weakened and/or inflexible, which can happen over time from prolonged sitting or lack of exercise, it becomes more difficult for them to perform their daily functions without strain or discomfort.

By keeping your hip joints strong and flexible, you are helping them keep up with your body’s needs as you age. When your hip joints are in good shape, you can enjoy a larger range of pain-free motion while reducing the inflammation that can cause arthritis. That said, it is important to modify hip exercises as you age based on your body’s specific needs so you don’t overexert your hip joints while you build up strength and flexibility over time.

We love these low-impact hip pain exercises because they are great for everyone regardless of age and exercise experience. When you start with low-impact movements like these, you can build up strength and flexibility over time without putting additional strain on your hip joints. And, these exercises can be done from the comfort of your own home!

As with any new exercise routine,  please consult with your doctor before getting started and do not push your body past its limits. Remember, you will build up strength and flexibility over time.

Butterfly Pose

Woman doing butterfly pose

This is a great warm-up for your hip pain exercise routine because it helps open up the hip flexors while engaging your thigh muscles. Don’t be intimidated by the photo – it’s OK to start with your knees higher off the ground because you will be able to move them close towards it as you build up flexibility. Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit on the floor (use a pillow if needed) and press the soles of your feet together.
  • Imagine a string pulling your head up to the sky, elongating your spine while keeping it straight and tuck in your chin.
  • Breathe in and out deeply, and with each breath let yourself sink more into the stretch.
  • Continue to breathe in and out for at least 30 seconds to start, up to a full minute with experience, then repeat 2-4 more times.

Knee Hugs

Woman doing knee hugs on floor

Next, move on to knee hugs which will combine deep breathing with subtle lower body movement to continue warming up your hips:

  • Lie on the floor (use a mat or towel if needed), knees bent, and feet flat on the floor.
  • Slowly bend in one knee towards your chest, grab hold and pull towards you. You can also place your legs straight out in front of you if you are a little more flexible.
  • Breathe in and out from the stomach as you hold the stretch for 10-15
  • You can repeat 2-3 times on the same side then switch to the other side, or alternate sides based on your preference.

Hip Marching

Woman doing seated hip exercise

Grab a chair and get ready to take things up just a notch! This simple seated exercise helps strengthen your hips while also engaging your thighs and abs.  (Directions courtesy of Eldergym).

  • Sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift up your right knee as high as is comfortable while taking a deep breath in, then lower your leg back to the ground while exhaling.
  • Alternate lifting your knees for a total of 10 lifts on each leg.

Standing Hip Extension

Woman doing standing hip exercise

Now, stand up and get behind your chair for the final part of this hip pain exercise sequence:

  • Grab the back of the chair with both hands and stand tall, being sure to straighten your spine and not arching your lower back.
  • Lift your right leg back, directly behind you, as far as you can without causing discomfort and hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Return to your starting position and repeat 5-10 times on the same side before switching to the other side.
  • If you are more advanced and want more of a challenge, you can add a resistance band around your ankles.

This simple, low-impact sequence is the perfect way to start a daily hip pain exercise routine. Over time, you should notice an increase in your hip strength and flexibility which can help decrease hip pain from normal, daily wear, and tear. If you are experiencing hip pain that is not improving from exercises, you should talk with your doctor about your treatment options. Our Board Certified Physicians are also here to help and can offer a  free consultation to see if you are a candidate for our non-surgical, FDA-approved procedure to treat knee, hip, and shoulder pain. Just fill out the form below and an  AROmotion team member will contact you.

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Rehabilitation After Hip Replacement Surgery

Couple walking dog outdoors in the fal

Rehabilitation After Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement surgery is a major surgery performed inside of a hospital. It requires significant recovery, rehabilitation, and wound healing. It also carries intrinsic risk of infection and complications from anesthesia.

The goal of a total hip replacement surgery is to replace the ball joint, where pain is occuring because of chondromalacia. Chondromalacia is an osteoarthritic condition where the hard cartilage offering a protective coating for the bones in the joint wears down, leaving thin areas or “potholes” in the coating. Because your bones are alive and have nerve endings that can feel pain, when you put pressure on these potholes, it hurts. The pain actually releases inflammatory proteins that perpetuates more inflammation and swelling, which cause more pressure and more pain, and on and on the cycle continues. A hip replacement solves this problem by cutting out the nerve endings by removing the joint completely, but at a cost. There are risks involved, that is why it is done in a hospital and pain-free motion is not guaranteed. What’s more, hip replacement surgery is disruptive to your lifestyle. Recovery is longer than most patients realize.

Here’s why – one of the most important parts of hip replacement surgery is rehab. You need to strengthen and stretch the muscles around the hip joint so that you regain proper motion and the right amount of strength. Then you can resume your natural gait (how you walk), because this will affect your back, your knees, your hip, and everything else. This rehabilitation process can take six months or more. Unfortunately, a significant number of people who undergo hip replacement end up with chronic pain for the rest of their lives even if the surgery goes well. Once you have a hip replacement, your range of motion is restricted from certain movements in order to protect the mechanical implant. You should be aware of this, especially if your surgeon doesn’t give you all of the details prior to you having the surgery.

Here at AROmotion, we offer minimally invasive alternatives to total hip replacement surgery, alternatives that allow you to keep your natural joint and that will get you up and moving without pain within a day or two. These require very little downtime as far as recovery. We have helped thousands of patients suffering from joint pain to avoid replacement surgery by combining the technologies of radiofrequency neurotomy , orthobiologics, and physical reconditioning to stop the pain, promote healing, and restore pain-free motion.

To schedule a consultation and find out if you are a candidate for any of our minimally invasive procedures or treatments, contact us today or visit aromotion.com

Why Would You Need A Hip Replacement Surgery?

Young woman with lower back pain

Why Would You Need A Hip Replacement Surgery?

Total hip replacement surgery is a major operation, though it can be a very good operation if performed appropriately. What causes you to have enough pain in your hip that you would undergo this invasive, inpatient surgery, and are there any other options?

People enjoy running, walking, and participating in daily activities. At some point, your hip – which is a ball and socket joint with a hard, Teflon-like cartilage coating – wears down over time. If you experience injuries, like a fall or an accident or a sports injury, you can wear down that hard cartilage that’s protecting the ball and socket. This can lead to the formation of little potholes (divots or worn spots in the cartilage).

Why is that important? Because this hyaline cartilage is like Teflon, protecting the bone underneath. Bones are alive; they have nerve endings and blood vessels. When you don’t have protection over those nerve endings, and you put pressure on them, it hurts.

So when your orthopedic doctor views your X-rays and tells you that you have narrowing on one side of your hip joint, and that you are “bone on bone” or “almost bone on bone”, what they are really implying is that you’ve worn out some of that hard, Teflon-like cartilage. You have an area of thinning on that X-ray that’s suggestive of exposed nerve endings.

The only surgical solution to this problem known as chondromalaica is to cut out the joint and remove the nerve endings. That’s what hip replacement surgery accomplishes. It removes your entire natural joint and replaces it with a mechanical implant. It sounds like a big surgery for a very simple problem because it is! Surgery at any hospital has intrinsic risks associated with it. Note that a hip replacement doesn’t last forever. It’s not a bionic hip; you’re not going to be running at 50 miles per hour. It lasts about 10 – 15 years, per the package inserts from the people that make these implants. Are there any alternatives?

The answer is that it depends on what your hip joint looks like.

The hyaline cartilage, the Teflon coating, is the same material you see on the end of a chicken bone. When you eat chicken, that hard, white, rubbery cartilage that’s on the tip of a chicken bone? That’s hyaline cartilage. If you’re experiencing “bone on bone” hip pain, what you’ve done, over time, is worn out low areas or little potholes in your chicken bone cartilage. And then the nerve endings underneath don’t have protection, so when you put pressure on the joint through movement, it hurts. The medical term for this condition is chondromalacia. If it’s painful or bothersome to walk, you may change how you walk by limping, shifting a little to the left, etc. You may have a hard time getting out of the car. Your activity depends on the torquing and the pressure put on that low area.

Steroids and anti-inflammatory medicines are ways of reducing the swelling and inflammation inside of the joint. What most patients don’t realize is that the pain they’re feeling in their hip is a symptom of chondromalacia, yes, but it is more than a symptom.The pain is actually perpetuating the inflammation by releasing inflammatory proteins inside of the joint. The nerve endings are stimulating more inflammation because your body is trying to create a fluid cushion, so you don’t keep hitting that pothole.

Your hip is an encapsulated joint (a capsule surrounds it; it is an enclosed space). So as that fluid becomes more and more full, the space becomes tighter, the pressure becomes greater, and the pressure will press on the nerve endings, which stimulates more inflammation. It is a feedback loop that goes on for years. You’ll end up with chronic arthritic pain, stiffness, and change in your mobility, all because your muscles are adapting and shifting to try to protect you from hitting that pothole.

Think of it like you think of major hurricanes. The worse the conditions in the Gulf of Mexico – the warmer the air and the water are – the larger and more violent the storm typically is. There are no hurricanes in January, because the air and water are cold. The conditions aren’t right. When you remove the heat, the storm dissipates. Arthritic inflammation is like that. Nerve pain is like the “heat” and makes the inflammation worse, which in turn destroys more cartilage. The more pain, the worse the conditions for this perfect storm. When you ease the pain, you ease the inflammation, which decreases the visible swelling and associated stiffness.

When you undergo hip replacement surgery, you’re essentially removing the whole joint and replacing it with an implant. And voila! The nerve endings are gone. The pain is gone, and so is the inflammation…and so is the entire joint! That’s how joint replacement treats hip pain for chondromalacia.

But if the ball joint is still mostly intact and has a round shape – if it’s still functioning with just a bit of narrowing – that’s a really big surgery just for joint pain. Ironically, hip replacement surgery is positioned as a very simple solution to your problem. Remember, it is a big surgery that is hospital-based, takes a few hours, and requires six to twelve weeks of rehab afterwards. Obviously, though, there are risks of infection or other complications because of anesthesia.

If your joint is normal in appearance, though, you need to call us. AROmotion performs other, minimally invasive procedures that can help solve chondromalacia nerve pain and inflammation in your joint. Our alternatives to hip replacement allow you to keep your natural joint rather than having it cut out and replaced.

Interested? Call us for a free MRI review or visit aromotion.com to learn more.