How Do Your Hips Get Tight?
The hip muscles form a vital link in the lower body connective chain. These 17 muscles provide balance, stability, and range of motion for all of your daily activities. When one or more of these muscles becomes injured or tight the ripple effect is significant.
While overuse, a sudden fall or other injury can play impact hip flexibility, tight hip muscles very often stem from a lack of activity. Sitting at a desk all day can quite quickly cause a tightening and shortening of the muscles. The result of any of these causes the muscles in your hips to lack proper range of motion and strength. When your hip muscles get stiff and fail to do their job sufficiently, your lower back and hamstrings have to compensate by doing the hip's job of flexing and extending the leg and hip.
In the short run, this compensation can cause modified posture, some discomfort, even pain but this imbalanced relationship has more daunting long-term ramifications. Improper posture and modified muscle movement during any activity including sitting, standing, walking or exercise causes a constant tug-of-war between the muscles which can lead to significant muscle, joint, tendon and ligament injuries.
At The Core Of The Issue
The muscles which are closest to your body's center of gravity must be strong to maintain proper posture and functioning of the body's dynamic interconnective chain.
We've all heard a lot about core strengthening but maintaining flexibility of your core (hip flexors, glutes, piriformis, IT band and hamstrings) is every bit as critical to reducing the risk of injury and maintaining long-term mobility. In fact, reduced flexibility not only impacts your ability to perform everyday tasks but it is one of the leading causes of injuries.
Preventing Pain and Maintaining Flexibility
Rehabilitating an injury may or may not be painful, but there's one thing it is for sure – time consuming. As with all injuries, prevention is your best defense. Prevention options include:
1) Focus on Flexibility and Strength Every Day While there's a lot of controversy as to whether or not warming up before exercise makes a difference, there's one thing that everyone agrees on. If you're going to prevent injury, stretching should be done daily. The stretching and strengthening programs that help rehab the injury are the same ones that will help to prevent it.
2) Warm up and Cool Down Think of your muscles as taffy. Often a bit brittle to start, the more pulling and stretching that is done, the more pliable it becomes. Starting an athletic activity without stretching is a risk for injury you just don't have to take. Be sure to warm up properly before starting any exercise but be sure to stretch afterwards as well. You'll thank yourself in the morning.
3) Enlist Support Your feet are designed to protect you against the shock your body feels when you take a step. Every time the heel of your foot hits the ground, a shock wave travels up through your body, all the way to your head. A healthy body will absorb this shock. But if your feet are not in their correct functioning position, more of this shock is allowed to move through the body to weaken other joints including the hips and spine. Be sure that your feet are healthy, that your arches are properly supported and your shoes are providing maximum shock absorption.