In a recent hip pain blog post I described common reasons why people experience hip pain. What I didn’t talk about was how important your hips are to your overall well being – especially if you are a woman. When you have a hip problem, other parts of your body can easily become injured.
Women often experience more issues because of our anatomy
A woman’s hips or pelvis is wider than that of a man’s. This creates a larger angle between the hip and the knee known as the Q angle. As such, women tend to have weaker lateral (side) hip muscles as their natural tendency is to allow their knees to dive in when bending or squatting. Studies have shown that weakness of lateral hip muscles, the glute medius and maximus and the tensor fascia lata (tfl), coupled with the larger Q angle can cause numerous issues such as knee pain, ankle sprains, IT band syndrome, low back pain, glute medius strain, and more.
These lateral hip muscles are a component of your core.
The top of your core starts at your diaphragm, and ends at your pelvic floor and all the muscles in between: the abdominals and obliques, the paraspinals (back), gluteals (buttocks/hips), and the deep core: the transverse abdominus (a large, banded muscle that covers the abdomen and back down to the pelvis), the multifidi (deep back), and deep pelvic floor. Although not technically part of the core, I include the external hip rotators, which are very deep, small muscles that rotate your hips out and stabilize your pelvis during movement.
As women are built differently than men, it is even more important to keep your hips strong and be mindful of how you move throughout the day and while exercising.
Hip Pain Exercise Tips for Women
Here are some simple exercises all women should do to keep their lateral hip muscles strong and prevent injury:
- Bridging – lie on your back, knees bent with a band around your thighs, pull out on band slightly and maintain throughout the exercise, then lift your hips up/down
- Clamshells – lie on your side, hips and knees bent, band around thighs, then open and close your top leg keeping your feet together
- Side step ups – step up sideways on a stair or small step, keep your knee straight ahead
- Sidestep around the house
- Advanced: sidestep with a band around your ankles, keep steps small with constant tension on band and feet pointing straight ahead
- Do some squats (watch this video)
- Stand on one leg throughout the day
- Stand on one leg (hold onto a counter lightly if needed)
- Raise other leg out to the side
- Bring other leg across
- Raise other leg behind
Do the first 3 exercises at least 3-4 times per week and the others throughout your day, everyday.
Daily Mindful Tips for Hip Health
- Keep your knees straight ahead every-time you need to squat, sit down, or stand up (watch this video)
- Stand balanced over your feet (Watch this video to find your center of balance)
- Stand on one leg as you do different activities, for example brushing your teeth, washing dishes, or watching TV
- Sidestep as you move from room to room around the house
- Be mindful of your body positioning during exercise class
- Be mindful of your posture throughout the day
- Mindful walking
- Physical therapy for your personalized exercise program
If you have mastered the exercises above and would like more challenging exercises designed specifically for you, contact us to set up a movement assessment and learn the exercises you need to stay injury free.