Parkinson's in Depth

Reduce Falls by Training the Hip

Epidemiological research shows that maximum numbers of old-age related falls are due to the inflexible hip joint and its associated gluteus muscles. The figures show that falls due to gait and balance disorders or weakness’ attribute to a mean of 17%, which is the second highest in this study. Therefore, preventive measures that provide extensive training of the hip to stimulate muscular function and increase flexibility are necessary. The performance of athletes also greatly depends on training of their hip joint and associated muscles. It provides the athletes with loose hips, thereby; increasing mobility, agility and power. There are several ways to train the hip for enhanced performance and increased motion flexibility.

HIP ACTIVATION

The first step to train your hip, to yield best results in terms of daily life activities and performance (in some cases), is to focus on hip activation exercises. They provide strength and mobility to the Gluteus Maximus muscles. This is because of the increased lethargy in people leading to long hours of sitting and avoiding physical activity. According to a researcher, Stuart McGill, spending too much time sitting, leads to gluteal amnesia. This means that the gluteal muscles go to sleep and their functional activity can become impaired. In this condition, other muscles such as the lumbar extensors and hamstrings take over the job. However, these muscles are designed to only support the working of the gluteus muscles. Excessive strain on these muscles leads to hampered mobility patterns and may lead to falls. Therefore, hip activation is very important as a part of hip training to prevent falls. The most useful exercise for hip activation is the single-leg hip lift.

SINGLE LEG HIP-LIFT

The single leg hip-lift is performed by lying down on the floor with legs bent and lifting one foot off the floor. Lifting your hips up in the air helps concentrate on contracting the gluteal muscles. This should be repeated after two to three second intervals. It is advisable to perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps on each side. This exercise should be preferably performed after waking up from sleep or long hours of sitting, a requirement for muscle activation.

HIP MOBILITY

One of the most important causes of falls in all age groups is hip stiffness. This exercise, as a part of hip training, provides tips to keep your hips mobile and improve overall performance in daily life. It focuses on developing unrestricted range of motion in your hip joint. Hip mobility can be increased by following routine exercises on daily basis such as Split Squat and Lateral Squat. Apart from these exercises as part of hip training, individually customized programs, especially for athletes (based on their activities), and older adults (based on their individual impairment), should be followed to minimize the risk of falls.

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