Hips and their Muscle Issues
Welcome to this week’s blog, all about your hips and their muscles and the issues that can arise within them.
Human hips are more stable in the quadruped position, that is, on all fours. It’s why babies crawl before walking. This is because this movement feels more secure and a lot safer than being on just two legs.
Being upright however, is a lot more efficient for our movement needs. Our hips and their muscles have evolved to support this. But things can still go wrong. Here I talk about a few common issues and some initial steps you could take to help resolve them. Including how Sports Massage can be used effectively to help that rehabilitation process.
Your hips are classed as the area of your pelvis that juts out of your abdomen above your bottom and below your waist. However there is a lot more to your hips than that initial description. Your pelvis is a large cup of skeleton, providing shelter to internal digestive and reproductive organs. As well as home to several important muscles. They are also the end point of your spine and the beginning of your legs. They are the hinge of the body and are home to the largest muscle of the body, the gluteus maximus.
Your hips need the actions of seventeen different muscles to aid them in correct and healthy function. They are grouped according to their location and functions; gluteal, lateral rotators, adductors and iliopsoas. I’ve put a great picture on my Facebook page illustrating some of the hip muscles. It’s great to see the relation of them alongside the spine and pelvis. I am not going into detail of every hip muscle because we would end up being here for a long time! But like my other blogs, I will give you a starting point to go and do a little research of your own. Or to book in with me for a more detailed conversation pertaining to your issue. A good place to look first of all if you think you have a hip issue, is at hip opening stretches. This are usually found in yoga practise, as these exercises can loosen tightness in and around your hips.
I hear this description all the time. It can sometimes take a little investigating to work out exactly what is going on, because that description is not terribly helpful. It has even turned out to be an entirely different issue from another joint. So sometimes a professional consultation goes a long way to helping you understand your body and why it’s hurting you.
Below I have listed a few different issues within the hips with a brief description of the symptoms. The first two I have personal experience with in myself, and the others I have helped clients resolve.
Trochanteric Bursitis –
Inflammation of the bursa located on the greater trochanter of the femur, often presents as pain in the joint of the hip when pressure is applied during walking or sitting, often occurs as the result of muscular tightness or overuse for the strength you have
Snapping Hip Syndrome –
Tightness of one or more muscles or tendons and they ‘snap’ over the bony prominences nearby, e.g. The lesser trochanter and feels like something is preventing full range of motion in the hip until it ‘snaps’ into position. Can sound scary when it happens.
Compression of the sciatic nerve by a herniated vertebral disc in the L4-S1 region of the lower spine, which sends shooting pains down the leg as well as tingling or numbness and sometimes weakness
Piriformis Syndrome –
Mimics sciatica so feels similar, but it is the piriformis muscle irritating the sciatica nerve in the deep gluteal region
Pain at the coccyx, the very base of the spine, the gluteus maximus attaches here as well as other muscles including key pelvic floor muscles
Uneven Hips –
Also known as Hitched Hip, a small yet powerful muscle called the Quadratus Lumborum is often responsible for this as well as lower back discomfort
ITB (Iliotibial Band) Syndrome –
Often responsible for ‘runners knee’, the gluteus maximus and the tensor fascia latae attach to the Iliotibial Band and are involved in hip movement
When the hip socket doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the femur, generally people are born with this so know about it from a young age
Labral Tear –
The labrum covers the acetabulum (socket) of the hip allowing full stability of the hip. When torn the hip destabilises and can cause pain and stiffness
Avascular Necrosis –
Death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood supply. Can happen after accidents or degenerative disease
Femoroacetabular (Hip) Impingement –
Abnormal degeneration and/or contact between the ball and socket of the hip which can lead to damage and discomfort
A crack or break in the topmost of the femur close to the joint
When the ball of the femur is forced out of the socket joint
Strains and Sprains –
The result of overuse, accidents and other injuries
Sports Massage for Hip Issues
So how can Sports Massage help you with any of the above? Good Question! When a muscle is tighter than it needs to be, finding out why and relieving that tightness is a good place to start. Sometimes there is an underlying issue that cannot be directly solved by massage, but rather effects the muscles surrounding the hip and its movements and relieving these muscular tensions can help ease the underlying issue.
Issues as far away as the feet and ankles can feed up to the hips and cause discomfort, so seeking a professionals help and advice could go a long way knowing, rather than guessing, what is happening within your body.
Tight psoas or iliacus, the deep internal hip muscles, can prevent efficient leg movement as well as pulling upon the lower spine and creating a discomfort and tension there. It is vital that you move your body in every plane of movement possible, every day, to keep all our muscles working healthily. Yoga is a fantastic strengthening activity as well as providing stretching opportunities to increase your range of movement throughout your whole body, however it has a better focus on healthy hips than most other activities.
If standing up is something that is already causing you problems, then consider seated or quadruped exercises. That’s right – seated and on all fours exercise can be just as effective for you, if done well. Remember I said that babies like to crawl before walking? That’s because it’s a stable way to support yourself, if you have the upper body strength to do that. Seek advice if you are not sure.
Strength training is the number one go to for healthy muscles anywhere in the body, and if you don’t like yoga or its similar friend, Pilates, then look at simple weight training or another sport which gets you moving.
Walking Your Hips
Walking is the most underrated exercise out there, so if that’s your starting point, walk it out and get those hips moving. You know your body best and if something doesn’t feel right, then it might be time to get it looked at and seek professional advice. Remember that there are many forms of help out there, from your neighbourhood GP, to Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Osteopaths as well as myself, your local Sports Massage Therapist.
Remember to start small with whatever rehabilitative exercise you choose or are given, and if it hurts (unusually), stop.
I hope to see you soon, and if you need specific advice beforehand, please do get in touch.