The hip is a very complex joint- with a number of major movements stemming from hip flexion or a coordination of the hip and others. The hip also plays a very important role in many, many sports and thus having strong, stable hips is the basis of any good sportsman. But besides from your squats and deadlifts; what goes on under the bonnet? And what can you do to protect it?
The hip is made up of a ball and socket joint joint linking the femoral head (or top of the femur) to the acetabulum. This joint allows the articulation of the pelvis with the femur allowing you to perform hip flexion and abduction/adduction. However, we must not forget the other hugely important joint in this equation- the sacroiliac joint. This connects the base of the lumbar spine to the coccyx and is mainly there to absorb shock from the upper body, pelvis and legs but definitely has a hand in hip flexion and extension.
The ligaments in the hip are plentiful and do the job of linking bones to other bones, they provide a dense fibrous network around the joint capsule ensuring stability. The first is the iliofemoral ligament- this is a Y-shaped joint that connects the pelvis with the femoral head at the front of the joint and is essential to stop over extension of the hip. Next is the pubofemoral ligament which is a triangular ligament that extends between the upper portion of the pubis and the above ligament. The third ligamnet is the ischiofemoral ligament consisting of a group of strong fibres that arise from the ischium behind the acetabulum and merges with the fibres of the joint capsule. The ligamentum teres has no role in hip movement but does carry a small artery that supplies blood to a part of the femoral head. The last ligamnet in the hip is the acetabular labrum that lines the acetabular socket with a fibrous cartilage ring that deepens the socket and provides increased strength and stability.
And finally the main event- the muscles. The main group of muscles in the hip are the gluteals consisting of the gluteas maximus, minimus and medius. These originate at the back of the pelvis and insert at the greater trochanter of the femur. A second are the adductors which are located at the top of the femur and help with pulling the leg toward the midline. An obscure one in the iliopsoas muscle that is located in the front of the hip joint and provides flexion. The last one is the rectus femoris muscle located in the front of the thigh and act as hip flexors. I could have mentioned the hamstring group but I have already covered them in my article about the body mechanics of the knee so I felt it need not be explained again.
Now that we know what goes on under the proverbial “bonnet” how can you protect what is there? Well making sure you are properly warmed up before doing anything hip related- whether that be squats or even running- will make sure that even the small muscles and ligaments are ready to take the strain. Make sure that, especially for weighted exercises, form is priority not the amount of weight moved. If you do suffer an injury, give it ample time to recover before returning to consistent exercise. If you do all of these then you can guarantee that your hips will stay healthy. To strengthen the hips then simply work the actions of the hip- so do exercises that go through hip flexion, extension and adduction/abduction. If you so these things then you will see your athlete performance shoot through the roof, and to learn more about athletic performance and how to boost it click here.
The hip is a complex joint so any confusion then just contact me via email or by the comments below.