Hip osteoarthritis, also know as degenerative hip joint disease or age-related hip arthritis, is a hip joint dysfunction caused by deteriorating cartilage and tissue due to injury and/or the wear and tear of everyday activities. Specifically, it involves a deterioration of the cartilage that connects your thighbone to your pelvis, and can result in bone rubbing on bone. Over time this condition can cause pain in every facet of your life, from something as commonplace as walking to simple bending. However, by performing hip- and buttocks—strengthening exercises and toning the muscles around the joint, it is possible to keep the hip healthy and moving pain-free!
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, affects thirty million Americans. Understanding the symptoms and following an exercise protocol that addresses the weakening of the hip joint is crucial to living an active, healthy lifestyle.
Patients with this condition complain of pain around the outside upper thigh or the groin, and develop feelings of stiffness upon waking up and after sitting for a prolonged period. Pain increases with activity and decreases with rest.
Arthritis is a deterioration of the cartilage that lines your hip socket and helps the bones glide smoothly. When the cartilage deteriorates, bone is left to grind against bone. The friction between the bones causes the pain you experience.
Age, old injuries, genetic predisposition, and just bad luck are unpreventable causes. Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and tight or weak muscles are preventable causes that can be adjusted with lifestyle change.
Pain caused by excess weight can be greatly reduced by both losing weight and starting a basic fitness routine. Every additional pound you carry equals 3 extra pounds of pressure on your hip joint. If you are 10 pounds overweight, that is 30 extra pounds of pressure on your hip joint!
A sedentary lifestyle (a.k.a. not enough exercise) leads to a weakening of the muscles around the joint. It is critical to keep your hip muscles firing by starting a simple fitness routine. Just walking for 40 minutes 3 to 4 times a week is a good start toward getting back into shape. If you are active but still have pain, you may need to do some specific exercises to target muscles that may have become weak.
Focus on exercises that reduce wear and tear on your hips and strengthen your legs, feet, and core (everything surrounding the hips) to pick up the slack of your weakening hip joints.
The best approach for decreasing pain is movement and strengthening exercises. Strengthening the muscles of the glutes (your tuchus, buttocks, booty, etc.) is critical in keeping the joints supported. The biggest player is a little guy named the “posterior gluteus medius,” also known as the “side butt” muscle. This keeps your hip joint moving smoothly, and allows you to remain stable as you walk.
These exercises will allow you to both alleviate the pain of hip osteoarthritis (OA) if you currently have it, and prevent it if you don’t!