The hips are formed by the pelvis and the femur (or upper leg bone). The femur fits snuggly into the acetabulum of the pelvis, making it a ball and socket joint that allows for multidirectional movement. The hip is a very important joint because it is where the lower extremity attaches to the axial skeleton, or trunk, of the body.
There are many large muscles that cross the hip joint, including the glutes, quads, hamstrings and iliopsoas. The purpose of these muscles is to stabilize the pelvis and to move the legs. The hips need to be both strong and mobile to perform daily tasks such as getting up and down from a chair or toilet and going up and down stairs, as well as walking. When any of the muscles around this joint are weak or tight, this can lead to dysfunction, pain, inefficient movement patterns or degeneration at the joint.
The hip is one of the most common sites for fractures in people with osteopenia and osteoporosis. A fracture at the hip can lead to a reduction in one’s functional independence and activity levels. For all these reasons, it is incredibly important to maintain strong and flexible hips throughout the lifespan.