The hip is a ball and socket joint which means that it can move in several directions but remain stable. Modern living doesn’t put much demand on the hip in terms of mobility and as the joint is not being put through its full range of movement regularly the surfaces are not lubricated and the muscles may tighten up and restrict movement. The typical pattern is to lose side swing back swing and the ability to turn the leg out. If you find these movements difficult just take your time and focus on enhancing flexibility. As movement becomes easier it is important to get the muscles around the hip active. Sometimes these muscles are lazy and your lower back has to compensate. The gluteal muscles (in the buttocks) respond well to exercise and when they are in good working order you can rest assured that your spine is not being put under undue strain.
STRAIGHT LEG RAISES
- Lie on your back with your feet relaxed.
- Lift your weak leg to an angle of about 45 degrees, then slowly bring it down again. Repeat. Place your fingers on the top of your femur to check the axis of movement in the hip.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you hands resting lightly on the floor at your sides taking a little weight.
- Keeping your back straight shuffle along on your buttocks using hands to help.
- Shuffle forward then backward.
- Lie on your left side supporting your head on your hand and with the other hand on the floor for balance.
- Bend your right leg and rest it on the floor in front of your left one.
- Keeping your left leg straight lift it up from the flour to strengthen the muscles of the inner thigh.
- Stand with your left sides learning against a wall with the leg slightly bent, foot off the floor and knee and lower leg resting against the wall.
- Push your knee into the wall and tense your other leg to resist the turning force this creates.
- Repeat the exercise with your other side next to the wall.
- Be careful not to tilt your body away from the wall.
- Stand facing a wall with hands resting lightly on it, elbows bent, weak leg slightly out to the and foot turned in.
- Lift your leg out sideways, keeping your abdominals taut so that the movement comes from the hip. Repeat.
- You should feel the muscles working on the outsides of your hip.
BENT KNEE DROPS
- Lie on your front with your abdominal muscles and buttocks taut and a small weight around your ankle.
- Bend your left knee to an angle of 90 degrees. Keeping your thigh resting on the floor roll your bent leg slowly out to the side, and back again.
- Repeat. This exercise coordinates trunk stability with hip movement strengthening the hip rotator muscles.
If you find any exercise difficult- either because it hurts or because you cannot do the movement, work through the rest of the exercises.