Hip Strength certainly isn’t the most common training term that we hear thrown around these days, not like core strength or even glute strength, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important! Strong, healthy hips are imperative for avoiding pain and injury, for balance, mobility, and more. Don’t wait until your hips are bothering you, read on for 5 benefits of not just stretching, but strengthening your hips.
1. Relieve Knee Pain
That’s right, folks! What appears to be a seemingly unrelated pain or discomfort in your knees could actually be stemming from weak or tight hips. Why? For one, our sedentary lifestyles and all that sitting we do on a daily basis isn’t doing us any favors. The hips (any muscle that crosses over the hip joint, meaning the glute muscles, the hamstrings, the inner thigh muscles and the psoas muscles to be specific) work together to stabilize your lower body and allow you to bend at the hips, move your legs out to the side, and bring them back inward, among other movements. When the hips are weak or tight from sitting not only do the hips themselves tend to ache, but other body parts - especially the knees - have a tendency to take on some of the work leaving you in pain and discomfort.
2. Reduce Back Pain
In that same vein, when the hips aren’t functioning optimally, the glutes - the largest muscle group in the entire body, and arguably the laziest, try to pass off their extra work, too. The majority of the time it’s your back who ends up picking up the slack. When you work to actively strengthen your hips, you’ll engage the glutes as well and lessen some of that burden on your lower back.
3. Better Balance
It’s not just about avoiding or relieving pain, either. Strong, healthy hips can help to better activate your core, or the trunk of your body that is tasked with balance, stability and maintaining good posture. Your body is one, whole, working unit, and when the core and hips are working in unison you’ll find that moving through your daily life becomes easier and more comfortable.
4. Improve Running Performance
Hip strength is crucial if you’re a runner in particular, not only to avoid injury but also because the hips stabilize the legs during each movement in the running cycle. Focus on strengthening your hips so that you can drive explosively and use the hips to power the force of your run.
5. Better Workouts
Taking care to strengthen your hips can help you out in the gym, too. Your hips produce the force used in virtually every lower body movement from squats to jumps and everything in between. Mobility is essential and you’ll notice that as you strengthen the hips you’ll be able to squat deeper, balance better during presses/twists, and move optimally whether its forward, backward, laterally or up and down.
Strengthen your hips today!
As you can see, strong, optimally functioning hips are important not only for injury avoidance and relief but they also help you move better through your daily life as well as in your workouts. It’s important to not only stretch the hips but to incorporate hip-strengthening exercises into your daily fitness routines. If you take part in a functional exercise routine, one that includes squats, hip hinges, lunges, etc, you are probably already giving your hips the stretch and strength training that they need, but if you mainly focus on workouts with repetitive motions like cycling or running, you might not be giving your hips the attention they need. Try to incorporate a variety of lower body exercises for optimal hip strength!