How to … ease hip pain and increase flexibility

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There are many potential causes of hip pain. Inflamed muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding the hip, a pinched nerve, arthritis, a fracture in the bone or deformity caused by an injury are just some potential causes.

When you experience hip pain, take note of where exactly you feel it. Do you feel the pain radiating down the leg? Contained in the thigh or buttocks? In or outside the hip joint? Being able to identify where you experience pain the most will be useful if you seek medical advice and can help with an accurate diagnosis. If you feel the pain inside your hip or groin, it is most likely the problem is in the hip joint itself. If you feel the pain outside the hip, in the upper thigh or buttocks, chances are the problem comes from the muscles or soft tissue outside of the joint.

Rest the joint
If you are experiencing hip pain, resting and taking pressure off the joint should help to ease it. Avoid activities like bending and carrying heavy items that put pressure on your hip. Avoid lying or sitting on the painful hip.

Move it
Having stronger muscles around your joints can help to take pressure off your bones and cartilage. While there are some injuries you should allow to rest, once you have the nod of approval from your doctor, discuss a routine of exercises that will keep the muscles around your hip strong and supportive. This may involve low impact activities such as walking, swimming and yoga.

Slim down
According to WebMD, for every 5kg or extra body weight you carry, you place an additional 25kg of pressure on your knees and hips. If you suspect additional weight may be contributing to joint pain, consult your doctor or a dietitian on the safest and healthiest way to slim down. 

Take less of a load
Your hips absorb the pressure from the things you carry with your arms and torso. While your arms may be able to carry all your groceries at once, it doesn’t mean your hips can. When you go shopping, use a trolley to take the weight off your hips and avoid carrying heavy items as much as possible.

Aquatic activities
Exercising in a pool reduces the impact on your joints because the water helps to take weight and pressure off them. Joining a water aerobics class can help you to build up strength in your muscles and stretch out your joints.

Not only can over the counter medicines help to reduce pain, some can also help to reduce inflammation, which can help you to recover from an injury. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include ibuprofen and naproxen. If your pain is severe, or you are unsure about what dosage to take, consult your doctor.

See a physiotherapist
If you are recovering from a physical injury, it’s best to seek treatment from a physiotherapist who can not only help assess your injury and oversee its recovery, but can prescribe specific exercises and stretches to help you heal, strengthen and regain movement in your hips. 

Hot and cold presses
Using a heat pack wrapped in a handtowel or taking a warm shower can help to loosen your muscles after stretching or exercise. Using a cold pack or a bag of frozen vegies wrapped in a handtowel can help to ease pain in your hips.

Other causes of hip pain
Hip pain may be a part of a more serious condition. Rheumatoid arthritis, a pinched nerve or a serious injury could be the cause of your hip pain. If you suspect this may be the case, your doctor may prescribe specific treatment alongside medication that targets inflammation.

Alternative approach to pain
If you’re not finding relief in medications or stretching and exercise regimes, it may be time to consider alternative therapies. Massage, chiropractic adjustment and acupuncture help relieve pain when other approaches fail. Word of mouth and personal recommendations from friends and family are great ways to find reliable treatment providers.

How to stretch your hips
Increasing flexibility in your hips can help to ease pain in the long term. Tight and inflexible muscles may be limiting your mobility.

Pelvic stretch
Start with your feet, pelvis-width apart, and your legs slightly bent. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your lower stomach. Slowly tilt your pelvis up towards your sternum, which flattens the lower back. It will feel as though your chest is tucking down slightly while your lower stomach draws up while the back of your hips drop down. Return to the starting position. Repeat this stretch eight times.

Inner hip stretch
You can do this stretch while lying in bed. Lie on your back with your legs out straight. Take one leg up and cross the ankle over the opposite knee, so that your legs resemble the number ‘4’. Hold this stretch, and then repeat on the opposite leg. This stretch is especially good for people who find their hip pain affecting their posture and lower back.

Hip, stomach and back stretch
Lie on your stomach. Place your hands next to your chest, in line with your pectoral muscles or breasts. Push your chest up while leaving your hips pressed into the ground. You may only be able to lift your chest a few centimetres off the ground, or you may be able to extend your arms fully. If you’re familiar with yoga, you may know this position as a cobra, or baby cobra. If you feel pain in the lower back stop the exercise and, remember, it’s better start slow and build up.

Do you experience hip pain? Do you have any recommendations on how to ease or manage hip pain?

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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Total Comments: 4
  1. 0

    You have forgotten one other cause of hip pain – your mattress. A few months ago, it was time for a new mattress. I fell for this hoop-la of ‘the voted best mattress’ – and for the first time in my nearly 68 years, am plagued by hip pain. So much so it wakes me at night, forcing me to take pain killers. Funny enough, the minute I stand up out of bed – the pain goes. I then go and sleep on my king single bed in the spare room. I’ve persevered for a few weeks – even going to my doctor and having barrage of tests to ensure it wasn’t an underlying hip problem (the though of hip replacement running through my mind!)
    Luckily, mattress has a return time period, so is going back. Spent 2 days trolling mattress shops for a new mattress, have one on order so hopefully this will let me have a pain-free hip sleep. I would never get a ‘mattress in a box’ again.

  2. 0

    I don’t like physiotherapists, all they seem to do is send you home with a print out of exercises to do.

  3. 0

    My daughter has experienced a box mattress, championed by Choice magazine, had adjustments forwarded, so far so good. Just out of hospital, from a harder and adjustable bed, split beds are the best.



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