How Pilates Helps Hip Issues

15 November 2021

Our hips are an extremely important joint in our body. As one of the largest weight-bearing joints, our hip joint is located where the thigh bone meets the pelvis to form a ball-and-socket. The hip joint supports the weight and force of both our hip and leg muscles. We use our hips more than we think. As we walk, run, and jump, our hips provide us with a greater range of motion and flexibility than most other joints in the body. Although our hips can supply us with strength and durability, our hip joint is not indestructible and can wear down with age, use over time, or injury. When cartilage becomes damaged or the points in our hips break, we can experience various levels of pain. Here are a few common causes of hip pain:

  • Arthritis
    This is the most common cause of hip pain, especially in older adults, those with a family history of arthritis, or someone with past hip trauma. The hip is one of the most vulnerable joints for developing arthritis.
  • Tendinitis
    Our tendons are thick bands of tissue that attach our bones to muscle. Tendinitis occurs when there is inflammation or irritation of the tendons.This can be a result of repetitive stress from overusing tendons.
  • Bursitis
    Bursae are sacs of liquid found between tissues like bone, muscle, and tendons. When bursae become inflamed, pain can occur. Inflammation is caused by overworking or irritating the joint.
  • Muscle or tendon strain
    Repeating activities can cause strain to muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support our hips.
  • Hip fractures
    As we age, our bones may become weak or brittle. This can result in a higher risk for hip fractures with a fall.
  • Hip labral tear
    A hip labral tear occurs when there is a rip in the ring of cartilage or labrum on the outside of the socket of our hip joint. The labrum acts as a seal that holds the ball at the top of our thigh bone in place. Many athletes performing twisting motions develop this.
When experiencing pain, our first instinct may be to rest and remain immobile. Although we often think that movement can make our pain worse, Pilates is a great remedy for discomfort. Joint pain and Pilates go hand in hand simply because a major benefit of Pilates is the ability to strengthen muscles and increase joint mobility. Pilates also provides many hip-strengthening exercises that can prevent muscles from weakening as well as stretches to encourage muscle health. Here are a few Pilates movements to start with at home to strengthen your hips and alleviate pain:
  • Bridges
    Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor, squeeze your glutes and press down your heels with your hips lifting off of the floor towards the ceiling. Your arms will remain at your sides as you hold for a moment and carefully lower back down.
  • Kneeling lunge
    Kneeling in a lunge position on your mat, with proper alignment, your tailbone tucked in, and your body upright, arch your lower back, rotating the pelvis forward and sending the sit bone backward.
  • Hip Rotation Stretch
    Lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart on the mat, lift one knee at a time into your chest, keeping your spine long, tailbone heavy, and pelvis still. Placing your hand on your knee, slowly move your thigh into your hip joint in small circular motions. As this motion feels looser, make the motions bigger. Repeat 8-12 times in each direction, repeating with your other leg.
  • Pelvic Rocking
    Lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, begin a small rocking motion of your pelvis. Arch forward as you inhale and backward as you exhale. Repeat 10-15 times. You can also try a side-to-side movement without moving your knees or ribcage. Move right to left 10-15 times.

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