How to increase Hip Stability and why it's soo important for injury prevention!
Most injuries, pain or aches start either because of a lack of mobility in a certain area (tightnesses), a weak muscle (instability), or due to imbalances.
In this blog, I aim to help deepen your understanding of the hip joint and why it‘s vital to keep them strong, mobile and healthy.
Soo what kind of joint is our Hip Joint?
There are many types of joints within our bodies, Our hips are what is known as a ball and socket joint.
The ball and socket joint in particular allows the greatest range of motion as all movement planes are available in all directions.
The different planes are (see image below):
3. Internal Rotation
4. External Rotation
The Joint capsule consists of two layers known as the synovial membrane, this membrane consists of synovial lining and assists in helping control different movements in our hips.
The Capsule helps prevent excessive range of motion and helps to stabilize our hips.
Below are some of the the muscles surrounding our hip joint and their role:
1. The Hip Flexor
It’s main function is to ‘Flex’ the hip, it's in the name! The two main muscles that form the hip flexor are the psoas major and iliacus.
2. The Core
Although your core is not directly sitting on top of our hips it plays a HUGE role in keeping us stable. Without core strength we wouldn't be able to stand up straight, bend and rotate. A weak or unconditioned core can lead to the hip flexors overworking. Having a hyperlordotic lumbar spine can overtime make the hip flexors become short and weak.
3. The Glutes
The Gluteus maximus Is the major glute muscle visible behind the hip, its main role is to provide powerful hip extension but can also assist with external rotation and abduction.
Gluteus medius - Is the major abductor of the femur (upper leg) and external rotator. it is a major postural and stabilising muscle when standing on one leg and is the main muscle which creates an active middle split!
Gluteus minimus - This glute muscle abducts and internally rotates the hip.
4. The Adductors
Adductor magnus - stabilises the pelvis.
Adductor Longus - Adducts and medially rotates the femur.
Gracilis - adducts the thigh and helps with knee flexion.
The pectineus - This muscle adducts, medially rotates and helps with hip flexion.
5. Hamstrings and Quadriceps
The hamstrings - Role is to flex the knee and extend the hip.
The Quadriceps - The Rectus femoris flexes the hip and extends the knee It is often injured due to overstretching or rapid uncontrolled deceleration, this is simply due to the fact that our muscle can't take that much stress or load.
The Sartorius - creates hip flexion, abduction, external rotation and flexion of the knee.
Soo you're probably thinking, what has this got to do with getting injured?
If these muscles are not trained, kept strong and moving well with range of motion, your body is more injury prone, this could include injuries such as muscle strains, lower back strains and hip impingements, to mention a few, which if not treated can lead to more serious problems.
It’s pretty simple, if you lack mobility issues or have tightnesses it can lead to a lack of ability in moving certain joints, restricting and limiting your range of motion. Due to this other areas of our bodies are forced to compensate to perform that specific exercise. This means that:
1. You will be performing the exercise incorrectly with bad form and more prone towards injury.
2. You will not be using the muscles in which you are supposed to.
3. The correct muscles will not be working and getting you stronger and in result, you will not be working on your stability.
On the other hand, if an individual is very hyper mobile and has extreme flexibility and range of motion, they will most likely lack the strength required to keep their hips stable.
With any hyper mobility there’s always a window for instability with that range.
When an individuals ligaments are naturally flexible and unstable compansating muscles will become tight and constantly under tension to try and protect and limit the joint.
This individual should especially take extra care when stretching/exercising to avoid moving with too much internal rotation, focus on active glute engagement and perform each movement with control.
Remember, strength comes with tightness hence more stability and flexibility comes with instability.
The stronger muscles overcompensate for the weaker, “more stretched” ones. When the weaker muscles can’t match the strength and endurance of the stronger ones, they fatigue more easily and cause the strong muscles to work harder. Over time, these muscles wear down and develop overuse injuries.
To summarize, if you ensure that you are targeting the muscles surrounding your hip and core during your training program with full range of motion and control, you can prevent yourself from aches and pains, muscle strains and injuries. You will have a strong and solid foundation/base for any physical activity you undertake.
Be sure to stay mobile, work on your active flexibility, stretch when you need to, recover and rest and you will be ok :)
Below are a few standing stability exercises that you can try, be sure to have a good hip hinge and straight back before you perform these exercises.