Hip problems: simple diet and exercise tips
Your hips are designed to work hard. However, there’s still a lot that can go wrong with them. It’s estimated that musculoskeletal problems are the cause of 25% of GP visits in the UK. The hips, alongside the knees and back, are the prime culprits. One reason for this is that the hips, along with the knees, are the body’s primary weight-bearing joints. Put simply, they do a lot of work!
The good news is, there are some simple diet and exercise tips you can follow to reduce your chances of having hip problems.
Avoid too much omega-6 fatty acid
Research shows that a diet high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in processed foods such as fast food, crisps, baked goods and sausages, leads to larger amounts of arachidonic acid in the body. This arachidonic acid contributes to the breakdown of the joints. This can cause pain and impair their function and range of movement.
However, the body does need some Omega-6 fatty acids – for example, for brain function. It’s therefore important to ensure you have a balanced rather than restrictive diet.
Watch out for too many refined grains
Too many refined grains, found in white carbs and sugary cereals, are also bad for your hips. Unstable blood sugar levels contribute to joint inflammation. This in turn can cause a swollen, tender and painful hip- ouch!
Maintain a healthy weight
Of course, a diet high in the above has another result – being overweight or obese. Having to carry an excessive amount of weight for your frame will put pressure on the joints – and remember exactly which joints take the brunt of your weight? An overloaded hip will cause the cartilage to break down and develops into osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. Maintain a healthy weight to avoid hip problems.
So, we’ve seen what an excess of certain foods can do for your hip health- but what about a lack of others?
Up your calcium intake
Calcium, found in dairy products and green vegetables, is essential to your bone health. A lack of it can lead to osteoporosis, a condition which weakens the bones, making them more liable to fractures or breaks. Ensure you get enough calcium to reduce your chances of developing hip problems.
Strengthen your core
A lack of exercise contributes to being overweight- and we’ve seen above what excess pressure can do to your hips.
But what if you do exercise? Sadly, not every type of exercise benefits your hips. Having a strong core (which includes muscles in your back and glutes, not just your stomach!) is essential to keep them supported and properly aligned. If you have a weak core, your hips may have to overcompensate to support your frame- and that brings us back to excess pressure on the joints. Doing specific exercises to strengthen your core is therefore really important for joint health.
Always stretch properly
Runners also need to watch out. As a high impact sport, running can lead to muscle and tendon injuries around the hip area. Running on a hard surface in unsupportive shoes, as well as warming up and stretching inadequately will land you with an injury that’s going to slow you down rather than speed you up.
The good news? Running safely, strengthening your core, or preferably both will work wonders on your entire body- not just on your hips: having a careful and considerate exercise regime is one of the best things you can do for your health.