Anatomy of a Hip Injury
The hip is a complex structure composed of several bones and muscles as well as supporting nerves and connective tissue. A ball and socket joint is formed where the femur meets the acetabulum, a bowl-like depression of the pelvis. The quadriceps, hip flexors, hamstrings, and gluteals are all muscles that support and create movement at the hip joint. The sciatic nerve is the major nerve branching off from the spinal cord and through the hip structure. Structurally, the hips are designed to absorb a lot of stress. However, they are also the body’s center of gravity and work with the lower back and thighs to produce most of the body’s power. A balance of flexibility in the hip joint and strength in the lower back, hamstrings, gluteals, and hip flexors is necessary to lessen the incidence and severity of hip injuries in athletes.
Millions of children and adults around the world play soccer. Whether you play in a youth league or for a professional team, soccer can be very stressful on your hips. The different kicks players must execute, often from less than ideal positions, can cause tears and strains in the hip structure. Strain in the inner thigh or groin is one of the more familiar injuries, causing pain, swelling, and a loss of function. Although soccer is not a contact sport like football and hockey, collisions do occur between players, often at a high rate of speed. Hip pointer injuries can result from collisions. These are bruises of the iliac crest of the pelvis.
Regularly running long distances can cause a whole different set of problems than what soccer players experience. The repetitive motion can cause overuse injuries such as stress fractures or tiny cracks in the pelvic bones. Stress fractures can be very painful and may require the athlete to take considerable time off from training to heal. Runners can especially benefit from a consistent stretching program that focuses on the muscles of the hips, thighs, and calves. These muscles must work in concert through a complete range of motion to sustain proper running form over long distances.
Track & Field
The sport of track and field is made up of a number of different events, ranging from the high jump to sprints to discus throws and pole vaulting. These events all use the power of the hip structures to generate power, maintain balance, and execute dynamic movements. The more demanding events like hurdles and pole vaulting can cause acute tears and other trauma, but the more common injuries seen in track and field are from overuse. For example, the repetitive nature of practicing for running and throwing events can cause small tears in soft tissues, leading to strains and sprains. Tiny fractures in the pelvic bones can cause a lot of pain, forcing the athlete to reduce or stop training altogether.
Gymnastics and Dancing
Gymnasts and dancers perform a wide range of dynamic and powerful movements that subject the hip structures to quite a bit of stress. Jumps, landings, twirls, splits, and kicks executed quickly can cause a number of different injuries. For example, repeated jumps and landings can lead to stress fractures in the hips. These injuries can occur if the supporting musculature of the hamstrings and hip flexors is not flexible enough. Like in all sports, proper training and coaching are essential to reducing injuries, but there will always be a certain amount of risk involved to the athlete.
Vance Moreland is a freelance writer based in Biloxi, Mississippi. Vance understands the difficulties that athletes deal with on a regular basis; for assistance with hip injuries in particular Vance recommends sportsmedalabama.com.