Why Does It Matter If I Have a Stiff Hip?

Hip Pain

stiff hip

We get many patients who complain of tightness or a stiff hip.

Often, they just blame it on age and say there is nothing that can change that. It’s true as we age, our muscles become less pliable and arthritis can make our joints feel stiffer.

However, we can improve our mobility and strength to allow us to stay active and keep the stiffening effects of arthritis at bay for as long as possible.

This will help reduce low back pain and even help lower the chance you’ll need a hip replacement in the future.

CAN MY HIPS CAUSE BACK PAIN?

The most common reason for hip stiffness is a lack of movement or sustained sitting.

When we sit often and for long periods of time the muscles on the front of our hips get tight and stay tight. These muscles are called hip flexors.

Our body adapts to the positions it’s in most frequently. It may not seem like a huge deal, but if our hip flexors are tight it can lead us to feel like we are slightly bent forward or crouched when we walk.

This will affect our back, knees, or ankles and cause changes to how they work while walking.

It also can cause our pelvis to be more anteriorly or forward-tilted. This can lead to an excessive curvature of the back causing more pressure in the low back.

Tight hip flexors can also change how we walk by not allowing our leg to trail behind us as far so we may have to shorten our step length or be unable to walk as far without feeling some discomfort in the back or hips.

How can Preferred Physical Therapy in Glendale, Arizona Help My Stiff Hip?

These positions can cause more issues down your body including worsening knee or ankle pain from changing how you walk, bend, lift objects, etc.

At the same time weakness in our hips can also be a contributing factor and it can be difficult to distinguish on your own what your specific issue is.

This is where I would recommend trying a combination of stretching and strengthening for a time and if it’s not working, seek out a professional who can help you make a better plan tailored to your body. At Preferred Physical Therapy located in Glendale, Arizona we can help you to tailor your plan to your body to help specify where your pain is coming from.

I’M GETTING OLDER, CAN I EVEN IMPROVE MY STIFF HIP?

YES! As we get older, we may get less active and find ourselves sitting more causing more hip stiffness.

That doesn’t mean we have to stop doing things we enjoy or can’t improve the quality of our lives.

We tend to lose flexibility and strength because we have stopped needing those things in a sedentary lifestyle.

Use it or lose it. If we become more active, start “using it” by doing more of the activities we enjoy with some proper stretching and strengthening we can regain some of the flexibility we once had.

Here is a video that explains more about myths surrounding exercise and arthritis.

I DON’T LIKE STRETCHING, WHAT ELSE CAN I DO For My Stiff Hip?

Nowadays there are so many other ways to gain flexibility than just sitting down and holding some stretching positions we were taught in gym class years ago.

Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Aquatic classes, the list goes on and on for more interactive or social activities that can still improve your flexibility. If none of those sound very exciting, just get moving!

A few short walks a day, a little more time moving around your garden, anything to get you in different positions throughout the day instead of the same old routine.

In this video are some examples of things you can do to help improve your stiff hip.

If you are still concerned about what areas you need to stretch or how to incorporate this into a daily routine, talk to a physical therapist.

They are able to assess your muscle strength and muscle length to help you make a more customized routine for your specific activities!

If you’d like to jumpstart your stretching routine, take a look at this throwback technique video:





Alyssa Charbonneau, PT, DPT, ATC, Cert-DN
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