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Hip health: learn to move well

By Vanessa Lupton
March 27, 2017 - 0 comments

By Vanessa Lupton

When it comes to hip strains and pains, learning how to move is the best way to reduce or prevent pain and discomfort.

Registered Kinesiologist Julie Bellini works with clients living with a number of ailments, including chronic diseases, issues with joints and repetitive strains. With almost 25 years of clinical experience, Bellini stresses the importance of proper movement.

“The focus of the work I do is to move better and stop provoking pain,”said Bellini. “For a person with lower back or hip pain, a good example of how to move better would be how they get out of their chair. Often this is done incorrectly, and it you make a slight change for the better, there is often a direct reduction in pain.”

Having left clinical practice, Bellini now owns and operates Human Performance Solutions Mobile, which is based in the Hamilton area, but travels to clients in the comfort of their homes or offices to address exercise therapy, fitness, health, wellness and ergonomics.

According to Bellini, with a traditional physiotherapy visit patients spend much of their time and money on treatment and often receive little to no time addressing the functional mechanics that are the cause of the pain. Being independent, Bellini is able to provide the time to work with clients to get to the root of the issue and help them to restore function and living.

“Exercises are important but are a very small fraction of prevention or recovery,”said Bellini. “The premise is to get people to move better without provoking pain. How people move, their posture, the ergonomics of their surrounding are much more important, because these are factors in their every day lives. Working around these issues are very important when it comes to seeing better outcomes in a timely way.”

So what are some of the steps that people can take to prevent or reduce hip and its associated knee and lower back pain?  Bellini stresses the importance of paying attention to your pain. For people with mild to moderate hip pain in particular regions around the hip, this can be a precursor to progressive joint deterioration with potential hip replacement. Because doctors and physiotherapists often don’t understand the groin pain associated with hip pain, it is often left unaddressed or treated incorrectly until the pain becomes severe enough to warrant a replacement.  If those people with mild to moderate hip joint pain were to be given a proper exercise program to teach them how to move the right way, with the correct hip exercises it is possible to reverse the issue and avoid a hip replacement.

For people who fall into the severe pain category, the importance shifts from prevention to preparation, by helping clients reduce the pain in their groin or hip while they are awaiting replacement.

“How the ball joint [part of the hip] rotates in the socket is very important, “said Bellini. “When the axis of rotation is off by even five to eight millimeters in the forward direction, people often feel anterior [front] pain that travels down the leg when walking, standing up or lifting that leg forward (in the case of getting into a vehicle). This causes them to overuse their so we work to change some of the muscle control and to improve mobility and function by improving strength  and control of the muscles in their buttocks.”

Coming back to the idea of the chair test, Bellini says that most people cannot do the stand to sit (or sit to stand) test without using their hands, as there is not enough strength in the leg or buttocks. Improving the buttocks muscle strength pre-surgery and improving how they move with reduced pain can assist in the post-surgery recovery. Other real-life exercises include stepping up on to curbs and moving up and down stairs.

In addition to understanding how to move properly, Bellini offers the following advice on maintaining hip, and joint fluidity.

Anti-inflammatory diet: Eating minimal dairy is ideal to help with joints. Hard cheeses and high fat, healthy yogurts are fine, but avoid anything with sugar, dyes and anything that is processed.  Consume a high volume of nuts, seeds, whole grains, healthy oils (fish, olive), dark chocolate, eggs, and avocados.

Eat protein: To maintain muscle strength, Bellini says it’s important to eat a lot of lean, healthy meats including fish, chicken and turkey.

Vitamin D: While we can get Vitamin D from the food we eat, most people do not get enough.  The recommended intake is 1,000 International Units (IUs), Bellini comments on research indicating that it is safe for most people to take 3,000 units daily but to check with your healthcare provider if unsure.

Minimalize the amount of hip bending:  Pre-surgery or post surgery recipients should reduce the amount that they are bending their hip. Sitting on raised objects (toilet seats, chair cushions etc.) will help to minimize pain and strain on the joint.  

Keep moving: Many people avoid movement when they are awaiting surgery as their pain levels are high. Gentle movements, such as swimming or water exercise can help keep the joint moving. Stationary bikes can aggravate a pre-surgery hip, as can too much walking.

For people who have undergone their hip surgery and are in the healing process, Bellini stresses the importance of physiotherapy to assist with pain reduction and mobility. After three months or so, if pain is still an issue, then there is a good chance that they aren’t moving well and need to make changes. Post-surgery patients should also remain on the healthy diet supplementing with vitamin D.

Human Performance Solutions Mobile will be taking part in the Hamilton Wholistic Wellness Expo on Sat. April 1 at the Ancaster Fairgrounds.  With more than 80 health practitioners, Bellini will be one of seven wellness professionals giving a presentation to help share information on the importance of a healthy lifestyle and learning how to move well.

For more information visit www.hpsmobile.caor call 905-961-0749. 

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