MUSCLES AREN'T EVERYTHING - PART THREE
Put that dumbbell down and listen up: muscles aren't everything. Your joints make your whole body tick but like any mechanical system they are prone to wear and tear. Without well functioning joints, it is challenging to add muscle, shed fat or get anything done around the house. To maintain them, you need to understand how they work and the threats they face. Over the next few weeks, I will tell you how to keep your six major joints in tip top condition. This week, let's look at the hips.
TYPE OF JOINT: Hips have half the mobility of shoulders but a much deeper socket which makes the joint stable. This is essential for walking, running and jumping. In a ball and socket joint, like your hips, the rounded ball-like end of one bone fits into the concave surface of another. Surrounding tendons and ligaments help keep bones in place.
TOP THREAT: Hip Labral Tear! This is an injury of the hip labrum, a gasket-like cartilage ring at the rim of the hip socket that helps hold the ball of the thighbone in place and seals in fluid. Besides pain, these tears raise the risk of osteoarthritis.
CAUSE: Repetitive motions such as long distance cycling or when you bash into someone on the pitch, for example. Abnormal hip anatomy can also contribute.
TREATMENT: Physical therapy can help identify and compensate for quirks in your gait or anatomy that may stress the hip and stretch and strengthen hip-supporting muscles. If these approaches don't work, a surgeon can use an arthroscope to trim frayed cartilage and reattach the labrum to the socket.
DEFENCE: Vary your sports and workouts from day to day to avoid stressing the hip; this will allow joints to recover properly.
PROTECT YOUR HIPS: An old hip injury or the normal process of ageing can erode the articular cartilage that lines the hip's ball and socket and lead to osteoarthritis. As cartilage diminishes and the space between the bones closes, damaged bones may grow out and form spurs that can create or add to pain and limit movement. To keep your hips young and flexible, do bridges, planks and lunges to strengthen your glutes, lower back and hip flexor muscles, which support and stabilise the hips. Don't do lunges whilst holding weights though, to avoid undue stress.