Why is Hip Mobility Important?
Maintaining full hip mobility and normal range of motion in all planes of movement is important for improving musculoskeletal health and enhancing athletic performance. The femoroacetabular joint is one of the most mobile joints in the body. It is a ball and socket joint that allows for mobility in three planes of movement. This includes: flexion and extension, abduction and adduction, and internal/external rotation. Poor hip mobility increases the risk of injury, contributes to compensatory patterning, reduces force generation, and reduces shock absorption.
Risk of Injury
The hip is a very mobile part of the body. However, often times the hip tends to become stiff and range of motion is limited. Other parts of the body, such as the lumbar spine and knees, are forced to pick up the slack. This leads to other body parts becoming overworked. This increases the risk for injury and may lead to pain and early wear and tear on the joints.
The body will develop compensation patterns to make up for the lack of mobility in the hip. This leads to inefficient movement patterns and poor biomechanics. If hip mobility is restricted in a weight lifter, it is likely that person will overutilize their lower back muscles rather than the muscles surrounding the hips. This may lead to herniated discs and muscle spasms. For example, if a gymnast is lacking hip extension, the lumbar spine will compensate. Injuries such as spondylolisthesis may develop. Hip mobility can affect the entire kinetic chain. Symmetry Physical Therapy sees athletes that have been diagnosed with ‘chronic’ conditions such as achilles tendonitis or shin splints, these symptoms can often be traced back to compensatory patterning due to a lack of hip mobility.
Force Generation & Mobility
Full hip mobility allows for the greatest level of force generation and power. Muscles are able to produce the most force when the joint is able to go through the full range of motion. The relationship between muscles and joints is similar to the way a rubber band works. The further a rubber band shoots when you stretch it. You are able to generate more power when there is more range of motion in the hip. Having full hip mobility will allow you to run faster, jump higher, squat heavier, kick harder, and improve overall athletic performance. Hip mobility is also extremely important to generate power in rotational sports such as golf, tennis, and baseball.
The hip joint plays an important role in shock absorption to the torso and upper body during weight bearing activities. The joint must have full mobility to be able to absorb shock efficiently. This is especially important for runners and those who participate in higher impact sports and activities. It is possible to land while running without increasing risk of injury. Surrounding joints become affected when the joint is not able to fully absorb shock.
Check out Symmetry Physical Therapy’s Instagram post here for some exercises to get you started on improving your hip mobility!