Avoiding Common Hip Injuries with Nutrition and Exercise
Hip injuries are a concern for people of all ages, but especially for those over 50. This is the age at which bone loss accelerates and muscle mass begins to decline. Joints also begin to show signs of aging during this period of life, with cartilage becoming thinner and less resilient. The combination of these issues makes hip injuries and chronic degenerative conditions more likely, which are among the most frequent causes of disability in adults. Good nutrition and regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing these problems.
How Exercise Helps Prevent Hip Injuries
Strength and flexibility in the hip muscles is essential to joint function, providing the support necessary to keep hip joints properly aligned and stable, minimizing joint wear that can lead to acute and overuse injuries, as well as osteoarthritis and other degenerative joint conditions. Weak hip muscles can also affect balance, leading to falls.
Bones, like muscles, strengthen with exercise. When exercise stresses them, that signals the body to produce new bone cells at a faster rate, slowing the rate of age-related bone loss. Minimizing bone loss is important, since if it happens faster than bone repair, bones weaken and osteoporosis can develop.
To keep muscles and bones strong, everyone needs at least 30 minutes a day of moderate, weight-bearing exercise. Walking, dancing, aerobics and bicycling are good exercises for bones and muscles, as are stair climbing, yoga and Pilates.
Good Nutrition for Hip Health
Preventing the loss of bone and muscle mass means providing your body with the raw materials it needs to maintain them. Among the nutrients necessary for optimal bone and muscle health are vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
A diet that includes lean proteins, healthy fats, reduced-fat dairy products, whole grains and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can provide ample supplies of these nutrients. However, given today’s busy lifestyle, many of us aren’t getting optimal nutrition from diet alone, so taking a daily multivitamin with minerals is probably a good idea.
Common Hip Injuries Can Have Harsh Consequences
Hip injuries, even minor ones, can lead to osteoarthritis later. This affects approximately one out of every four adults and is often disabling. Falls happen in one out of every three adults over age 65. This results in about 250,000 hip fractures each year. More than 450,000 hip fractures occur annually in the United States. Arthritis and fractures are among the most common reasons for hip replacement surgeries. While hip replacement provides much-needed relief from disability and chronic pain, it is still a major surgery and has risks. Additionally, complications have been more prevalent lately than usual, due to faulty hip replacement implants. Several have been recalled, including the popular DePuy ASR hip replacement system. These products have had high rates of failures and can lead to a serious complication called metallosis, which is related to metallic implant debris and can cause hip pain, inflammation and tissue and bone death around the implant site. These problems have led to many painful and costly revision surgeries and hundreds of lawsuits.
Individuals need to discuss the benefits and risks with their health care professional. Prevention is certainly the first line of defense for maintaining healthy bones. Good strength and balance can help prevent falls and fractures. Engage in exercises that help maintain leg strength, balance and posture. Modified squats, getting up from a chair without using your arms, and balancing on one leg are a few suggestions. Always make sure you have something to hold onto if you are just starting out and feel unsteady on your feet. Other fall prevention measures include: not multi-tasking while walking, removing trip hazards like area rugs and cords, getting your eyes checked, keeping a night light on, and getting your medications checked (some can cause dizziness).