Three Tips on How to Keep Your Hips Healthy

July 2010

The hip joint is one of the largest joints in the body. Similar in structure to the shoulder joint, another "ball and socket" type joint, the hip is quite mobile, with seven distinct types of motion. It's no wonder that people who experience hip problems can often experience limitations in exercise or even day-to-day activities.

The hip joint is made up of the top of the femur (thigh bone) - the "ball" section and the lower portion of the pelvis, which creates the socket. Very heavy ligaments surround the hip joint and keep the "ball and socket" in place. Just as in the knee, special cartilage, called articular cartilage, covers the ends of knee bones. This cartilage provides for near frictionless movement, provided the cartilage is healthy.

Three Tips on how to keep your hips healthy:

  • Strengthen weak muscles surrounding the hip. It's quite common for people to have relative weakness of the hip abductors, the muscles that move the thighs out to the side. Muscle imbalance in the hips can lead to abnormal movement, which, over time can lead to cartilage damage. Muscle strengthening also helps improve bone density, which can be an issue for many of us as we age. 
  • Watch your weight. Maintaining healthy weight is critical to hip health, as excess weight increases the stress and strain across the hip during all activities. 
  • Take Supplements. Proper nutrition including supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, Vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids give your body the building blocks it needs to maintain healthy hips.* 

For more on the hip, and other joints, check out the Healthy Joints section. Remember to talk with your doctor about how you can maintain your ideal weight, before starting a new exercise program, and which supplements are right for you.