Are You Hip to Your Hips?
WHAT IS HIP
Sitting is THE biggest problem for us because it bends both
the hips and at the knees at opposing right angles, which:
lengthens and weakens the front leg muscles
shortens and tightens the rear hamstrings
These muscle imbalances force the low back - which should be an inward banana-shaped curve when standing - to collapse into an opposite, outward curve. Now the pelvis tucks under, and we end up sitting - slouching - with our weight directly on the hip joints instead of on our pelvic “sit bones.”
It’s bad enough that this position compresses our low back and discs and blows out our core muscles, but the hip joints aren’t built to take the brunt of our weight while sitting, and degenerative changes can very quickly ruin those joints. The pain, stiffness, and motion loss can become so serious, the only option is hip replacement surgery.
JUST REPLACE IT
In the last decade, the number of hip arthroplasties (replacements) more than doubled, from 138,700 in 2000 to 310,800 in 2010 ...a 55% increase. But it's much worse in the younger demographic: it jumped by 205% in those aged 45 to 54! Why? Because they've spent much more of their lives sitting. Sadly, all the data projects it to trend even younger over the next decade.
Unlike a bear that can rear up on their two hind legs once in a while, humans are true bipeds that rely on a unique set of pelvic, hip, and legs muscles to balance ourselves as we ambulate - the scientific word for walking upright.
Walking is technically a controlled falling forward; and if not for the remarkably coordinated movements that keep us balanced, we would tip over every time we tried to take a step.
But observe the gait of the average middle-aged person and you’ll see the stilted, unstable, stiff hip movements that are result of years of sitting. In that condition, a person can easily take a bad fall. And that can be very serious, especially for the elderly; the physical damage alone can be life-changing, but the emotional damage regarding their own vulnerability and loss of mobility can be devastating. A simple trip on a rug or stairs can do it, because - due to hip stiffness - they’ve lost the ability to recover their balance when they start to fall.
THOSE HIPS ARE MADE FOR WALKING
Of course, nobody thinks about their hips when they’re young: Run? Stand? Hop? Squat? Jump up? Jump down?
Bound up the stairs two at a time? Climb a hill? No problem! Plop down on the floor cross-legged?
Get right up again? Of course!
But over time, and especially now with the huge amount of sitting we do ...it’s a different story. At first, it may be just some feeling of tightness in the hips and knees when rising out of a chair. Then going down stairs feels less stable. Squatting may become so uncomfortable to the point where it’s not attempted anymore. And this is happening younger and younger now.
The fact is, many of the most common complaints I see as a Chiropractor - such as low back pain and stiffness, sciatica, back spasms - often start from the hips becoming stiff and damaged from sitting and lack-of-use.
So ….what to do? Get regular Chiropractic Care for a start. Without that, your structure will stay in a state of DIS-ease. Plus, I teach 3 simple and easy HIP STRETCHES to each of my Practice Members within the first few visits. Here's a great one:
GET ON THE FLOOR!
When's the last time you were on the floor? As kids, we spent a huge amount of time
there, and yet many adults don’t even think of it as they get older. I get on the floor
every day. We have a big “Little Nomad” mat, but a simple carpet or yoga mat will do.
I start by simply lying flat on my back, stretching my hands above my head, flattening and pinning both shoulder blades flat to the floor. I breath deep, and reach up with my arms, fingers pointing and fully extending and locking the elbows, and also locking the knees and pointing the feet so I’m at maximum length. I take three deep breaths, then relax into the floor.
Then I work into some variations of these types of stretches and movements:
*WARNING: be aware that if you have any pets, they will always think it’s their time to play with them. DO!
But the main thing is to listen to your body. Reconnect with how your body talks to you, the language it uses; stiffness, ease, tightness, pain, release ...these are what you must listen to and then use them a guide to move, stretch, elongate, tighten, etc to reach and rehabilitate those areas in need.
So, no matter what your age, preventing damaging falls by keeping this entire apparatus in good working order is a MUST.
JUST MOVE IT!!!
Have questions? E-mail me. Need help? Make an Appointment below!
I really hate to even have to write that research shows that a sedentary lifestyle with too much sitting leads to increased:
several types of cancers
incidence of strokes
atrophies muscle tone
wrecks our posture
decreases blood flow
increases blood sugar levels
slows the metabolism
Using a straight edge as a guide (tennis racket, broom handle) hold it so that the it touches:
1) base of the skull, 2) between shoulder blades 3) tailbone.
Then bend at the waist keeping contact with all three points. You may not get very far, but "stick" with it!