Are You Suffering From Stiff Hips? Why Stretching it isn’t Helping.

Stiff Hips

Stiff Hips

We just finished treatment with “Sarah”, a busy mom in her early 40s working full time and raising 3 kids with her husband. She was complaining about stiffness in her hips getting in the way of her ability to run, do her workouts at the gym, and (she said with a quiet voice) be intimate with her partner.

She noticed the stiffness was getting worse over the past few months and was starting to cause a pinch and sharp pain in the front of her hip.

She’s had some stiffness in her hips for a while and just thought it was because she was getting OLDER and this was going to be her new normal…

There was no moment of injury, and “Sarah” tried foam rolling and stretching on her own. Lots of stretching. Because when you have stiff muscles that’s what you need, right?

But when that didn’t help and it started to get painful and disrupt her lifestyle she didn’t want to put off getting expert help any longer. She was worried about what her hip would be like 5 years from now if it kept getting worse.

Too often we get patients in their 50s and 60s with stiff hips wanting to avoid hip replacement and this is how the conversation goes:

“How long have you noticed stiffness in your hips?” I ask.

“Oh geez, years. It’s just been worse and worse.” They respond.

This is exactly what “Sarah” wanted to avoid. She didn’t want to end up forced into joint replacement because there was no other option because she let this go on too long.

After working with us for 4 visits she no longer had pain but she was still stiff. For another 6 visits, she no longer felt restricted with her workouts (or in “other areas”) but was still concerned about running. She did 2 more visits to help with her strength and manage her return to running before she was discharged.

The important thing to know in this case is the difference between muscle tightness and joint tightness. These can feel very similar because joints are not moving easily in both cases.

However, identifying the root cause of the restriction determines the treatment.

During our evaluation with “Sarah” we did a series of tests to identify the tissue responsible for her restriction. It turned out it was tightness in the joint itself, not in the muscle. All the foam rolling yoga stretching in the world would not have been able to help.

When you have restrictions in the joint, that tightness wears down the joint surfaces more quickly.

Wearing down the joint surface is the cause of arthritis and eventually joint replacement.

Early recognition and getting the right treatment for her joint tightness is what led to her success.

Joint mobility is an essential component of overall health and wellness, especially as we age. As we get older, our joints begin to stiffen and become less flexible, leading to pain, discomfort, and decreased mobility. Joint mobility refers to the ability of our joints to move freely and smoothly, without any restrictions or discomfort.

One of the main reasons why joint mobility is so important is that it helps to prevent joint degeneration and other age-related conditions, such as arthritis and joint replacement. When our joints are stiff and restricted, the joint surfaces wear down more quickly, leading to a higher risk of developing arthritis and other joint problems.

In addition to preventing joint degeneration, good joint mobility is essential for maintaining overall physical function and quality of life. When our joints are stiff and painful, we may find it challenging to perform daily tasks, such as walking, climbing stairs, and bending down to pick things up.

This can make it difficult to stay active, which can lead to other health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

“Sarah’s” success story highlights the importance of early recognition and treatment of joint tightness to prevent long-term consequences. In her case, the root cause of the restriction was identified, and she received the appropriate treatment to improve joint mobility and prevent joint degeneration.

Stretching and foam rolling are useful techniques for improving muscle flexibility and preventing muscle tightness, but they may not be effective for joint tightness caused by capsular restrictions. In such cases, it is essential to identify the underlying cause of the restriction and seek expert help to manage the condition effectively.

In conclusion, maintaining good joint mobility is essential for overall health and wellness, especially as we age. Early recognition and treatment of joint tightness can prevent long-term consequences such as joint degeneration, arthritis, and joint replacement. If you are experiencing joint tightness, it is essential to seek expert help to identify the root cause of the restriction and receive the appropriate treatment.

Find out if your joint tightness is caused by a muscular or capsular restriction by clicking the link

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Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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