People often ask me why their knees and back hurt when they exercise. Regardless of my clients age or fitness level, the answer is most often an imbalance or weakness in the hips.
If the hips are out of alignment, it becomes difficult to have the correct form when doing resistance and strength building exercises.
This is something I’ve experienced first hand.
As a college athlete, I injured my lower back by overworking my legs and neglecting my hips. I had spent years in gyms with coaches and trainers but no one ever talked about how important hip mobility and stability were.
We use our hips for everything. Especially sitting.
We use the hips so much we don’t even think about it.
Today, the average American adult sits for about 6.5 hours each day. Whether it’s working in front of the computer, driving or relaxing in front of your favorite show, sitting for long hours inevitably leads to tight hip flexors and weakened hip extensors.
This type of imbalance pulls the pelvis into a tilted position which puts a lot of strain on the surrounding joints.
When hips lack the mobility or strength needed to do everyday things like walk, sit, stand or pick something up, the surrounding joints take the brunt of the strain. This can quickly lead to lower back and knee pain.
When you're feeling motivated, it's natural to want to jump straight into advanced exercises, like squats or deadlifts, which focus on the visible surface muscles.
But, if our hips and joints aren’t properly prepared, we risk devastating injuries to the back or knees.
Which is why it’s important to start with the fundamentals.
In order to keep the hip joint safe, it needs to have both: MOBILITY and STABILITY.
Mobility - refers to a joint’s range of motion
- Where your thigh bone connects with your hip bone is a ball-and-socket joint, and our ability to perform most movements depends on the femur being able to rotate properly in the pelvis.
- Stimulate circulation and prepare the joint by stretching and warming up the hips BEFORE you do any strenuous activity.
Stability - refers to our ability to intentionally control a joint’s range of motion
- In the hips, the SI joint (where the spine connects to the pelvis) forms the foundation for all movement in the spine. Hip stabilizers allow us to sit up straight and keep us balanced while we walk.
- The muscles in and around the hip joint need to ALL be doing their job, so the force produced from your legs can be transferred through the pelvis and up the spine in a balanced way.
- As we age, maintaining hip health is an essential piece of staying mobile and independent.
Signs that your hips are out of balance
Imbalance or lack of strength can cause pain and injury. Watch out for these signs that your hips are out of balance or alignment.
- Lower Back pain (especially chronic on one side)
- Sciatica symptoms
- Ankle or foot pain
- Knee pain - inside or outside
- Poor Posture
- Pain in the hips while sitting or standing
- Uneven gait
- SI joint pain
The hips are a major intersection of movement between our lower and upper body. They need to be able to coordinate the force generating up from the legs through the pelvis and the force of gravity pushing down from the spine.
When there is an imbalance in the hips, it’s like a kink in a hose and it can cause many issues.
5 Hip Strength Essentials
Here are some effective, easy-to-do exercises that help reinforce hip mobility and hip stability at the same time.
5 Essential Hip Strength Exercises:
- Clam Shells aka Abduction
- Internal Rotation
These can be done in under ten minutes and are easily incorporated into your daily routine!
Hi I’m Jessi,
For the past 10 years, I’ve been helping people of all ages & fitness levels reframe their relationship with movement. As a Holistic Fitness Trainer, I not only train people’s bodies, I also help them shift their mindsets to see movement as a tool for mental well being & physical vitality.
My goal is to provide accessible health & fitness content in a welcoming space. I simplify how the body works to help you stay active & injury-free.
There is no one-size-fits-all, but there are building blocks that we all can use to better understand what our body needs, so we can design movement regimens that work for each of us.
My coaching style focuses on strong foundations of body awareness & stabilization. I combine techniques from Yoga, Pilates, Strength Training, Massage Therapy & Mindfulness to craft well thought out & customized training plans to support all clients. To read more about my certifications, click here.