Hip mobility is important because……
- It allows muscles to function optimally. If the muscles can’t move a joint through a normal range, they’re missing out on opportunities to be stronger and more efficient. Limited joint range of motion also predisposes muscles to get abnormally shortened, which limits their ability to be strong.
- It encourages optimal joint health. Only the cartilage closest to the bones get their nutrients through blood flow like other tissues in the body do. For the rest of the cartilage, the nutrients are transported by diffusion from the synovial fluid. Fluid release is stimulated by motion. There is some evidence that compression on the cartilage can help improve this nutrient transfer and being able to compression the cartilage in all ranges would provide optimal health for all surfaces of the cartilage.
- It evens stress out throughout the lower chain (back, hips, knees, ankles). Most people are aware that you are not supposed to lift things using just your back. You should get your legs involved too. This includes the knees AND the hips. But if you don’t have enough hip flexion, your back may be doing the work in a poor position that increases the chances of injury.
Joint health is supported by…
- Strong muscles. Having strong muscles surrounding a joint takes some stress off of the joint itself. Often times, when a joint becomes painful, we might avoid using it; however, if we do that long enough, the muscles surrounding the joint get weaker and the joint may actually become more painful over time.
- Exercise (especially aerobic activity). Besides strengthening exercises, joints also benefit from aerobic activity, it seems, as research has indicated it can reduce joint swelling.
- Good nutrition. Calcium and Vitamin D are well-known as crucial components of bone health. Some studies suggest that Vitamin C and other anti-oxidants may help keep joints healthy as well.
- Inflammation control. Ice is recommended following activities that may produce joint soreness in order to manage inflammation and keep joints happy. Paying attention to diet may also contribute to happier joints, as high-inflammatory foods may cause excessive irritation.
- Frequent position changes. Joints like to move! Avoiding being stationary for too long is recommended. If you sit for a majority of your day, it is recommended to get up and move every 20-30 minutes. This could be as brief as walking to a water fountain and back or taking 1 phone call standing instead of sitting. Standing or sitting/standing desk combos are becoming more popular and can help immensely with feeling no loss in productivity while helping joints be happier.