How Do Your Life Choices Affect Your Hips?

What comes to mind when you think of the results of an unhealthy lifestyle? Diabetes or heart disease may spring to mind- but a poor diet and lack of exercise harm your hips as well.

hip joint
Musculoskeletal problems cause around 25% of GP visits in the UK

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!

Your hips are designed to work hard. However, there’s also a pretty lengthy list of things that can go wrong with them. However, there’s good news too. Hip problems often have common causes. A big one of these is an unhealthy lifestyle, which we explore below. Increase your quality of life through diet and exercise, and you’ll decrease your chances of having hip issues.

So, what foods affect your hips?

 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.

baked goods
Delicious- but not the best choice for your hips

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.

Too many refined grains, found in white carbs and sugary cereals, are also detrimental to your hips. Unstable blood sugar levels contribute to joint inflammation. This in turn can cause a swollen, tender and painful hip- ouch!

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.

So, we’ve seen what an excess of certain foods can do for your hip health- but what about a lack of others? Calcium, found in dairy products and green vegetables, is essential to your bone health. A lack of it can lead to osteoporosis, a conditions which weakens the bones, making them more liable to fractures or breaks.

And what about exercise?

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 any 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.

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.

Stretching properly is vital for your hip health!

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.

You can book a consultation with Mr Andrew Pearson, who specialises purely in orthopaedic hip surgery and performs more than 400 hip replacement operations each year, here.

Consultant Orthopaedic Hip Surgeon

First Visit £180