Hip health is something most people never give a thought to until trouble starts. This is a computer-driven world in which far too many of us are spending an inordinate amount of time on a daily basis just sitting. We sit in our cars, sit at work or school, sit watching programs on television or the computer, and we generally sit when socializing.
According to Harvard Health, spending too many hours sitting is hazardous to our health. Apart from the possibility of it being detrimental to our hip health, habitual inactivity increases risks for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and deep-vein thrombosis. Even the National Health Services in the UK claim that there are studies linking excessive sitting with type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and early death.
Hip Flexor Strain
There is a major muscle group located in the front of the hip that helps us to flex or bend our hips; these are known as the hip flexors. These muscles allow the movement of bringing the thighs toward the chest. The main muscles groups are the tensor fascia latae, quadriceps, psoas major, and the psoas minor. These muscles are essential for powerful leg movements and strength for everyday movement. They are intricately attached to the lower spine, the pelvis, the hips and even the rib cage. So, if there is any hip flexor strain it can cause problems throughout the body.
Hip Flexor Strain and Sitting
The human body tends to adapt to the positions in which we put them in the most. It is suspected that many, if not most people spend twelve hours a day in a sitting position; and this places the hip flexors in a position that is not ideal. While sitting, the hip flexors are in a "shortened position". Basically, this means, in the sitting position, the muscles are pulled in together for most of the day. With too many hours spent sitting, these muscles will start to adapt to that position. Over time, this leaves a person feeling stiff and sometimes sore when standing up. Even if it is not apparent that one of the reasons for stiffness after sitting is the hips, these muscles are certainly playing a significant role. Stiff muscles can easily lead to strained muscles. A strain due to overstretch will be more common for “chronic” sitters since the hips will be stiff and resistant to stretch.
Sit enough and tightness will become the norm for the hip flexors, which could end up in a hip flexor strain. When these muscles are strained it can easily affect the whole body due to their role in core control and balance. Basic activities including walking, getting up and down from chairs, in and out of the car, and even the way you sleep will be affected. When these muscles are strained the two biggest complaints tend to be muscle cramping in the hip flexor muscles themselves and low back pain.
Hip Flexor Strain
Whether the hip flexors are strained or just stiff, they have the tendency to hold the pelvis in a forward position. This causes the back to arch and the entire pelvis to tilt forward. Once this occurs then it may feel as though you are stuck in this position. Once this position becomes the norm, it may feel like you get a charlie horse in the front of your hips even with simple movements due to the position you are "stuck" in. Any movements that specifically involve these muscles may become quite painful.
Given the amount of available research, breaking up long blocks of sitting to flex these muscles is very important. Building more activity into every day is critical no matter at home or at the office.
- If need be, set a timer to remind yourself to get up and move around every so often (every thirty minutes is optimum).
- Take phone calls standing up.
- Get an adjustable standing desk for your computer.
- At home, do not sit in a chair or on the sofa while watching television, sit on a stability ball, which makes you use muscles to stay upright.
- If it is possible, get a treadmill and watch your favourite shows as you walk.
- Make sure you have a good exercise routine to promote tissue extensibility throughout the body to prevent strain in the hips and throughout the body.
These are some easy stretches you can do throughout the day regardless of whether you are at work or home. Repeat them as often as you feel comfortable. The more often you are able to do these, the better the results.
Standing next to a wall for support, stand on one leg and swing the other leg forwards and backwards to obtain as much range of motion as you can (do this 12 times). Then move your leg up to the side and across in front of your other leg 12 times. This will be more difficult and the range will be much smaller. Repeat for the other leg. If doing this 12 times to too stressful, start doing these 5 or 6 times – whatever you can manage – then work up to 12 times.
Sitting at your chair, lift one leg up and put it over the other leg so your ankle rests on top of the knee of the opposite leg. Then simply bend forward at the waist until you feel a strong pull through the glut muscles. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat for the other leg. You will notice one leg stiffer than the other. This is likely an indication of a structural shift in your body that has developed over years.
Next, stand up facing your chair about 3 feet away from it. Step up onto the chair with one leg and do a deep lunge forward until you feel a deep pull in the back leg. Make sure you keep your back upright and your core muscles flexed and tight. Hold 10 seconds and repeat for the other leg.
If you are experiencing hip stiffness, discomfort or pain chiropractic and physiotherapy care can help.
Established in 2007 by Dr. Behalf Sanjari, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has a proven record of commitment providing quality health care services in the Greater Toronto Area. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has qualified professionals who can provide the services you need. Chiro-Med has clinics located in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, visit Chiro-Med online or call 905-918-0419 or 905-235-2620 for more information.