After a full morning sat down at a desk, or a long stint on the sofa, standing up can come with a range of aches, crack and creaks. For those with desk jobs, this can be an everyday occurrence and can feel like something to be concerned about. One specific area that can be particularly is affected is the hip.
Sitting in one position for extended periods of time has the potential to do lasting damage to your hip joints. This is because the surfaces of your joints rely on movement as a method of getting the nutrients it needs via the joint fluid (synovial fluid), as there aren’t any arteries in that area which typically perform the nutritional exchange function. In order for this to work, the joint relies on the pressure changes from movement to move the synovial fluid around.
While the lack of movement is the biggest contributor to sitting’s negative impact on hip joints, the pressure inside your hip joint is at the lowest possible level when sat down due to your hip being flexed, meaning the synovial fluid isn’t able to exchange nutrients at an optimal level. This position also rotates the joint, which makes it even harder for the nutrients within the synovial fluid to reach all areas of the joint surface.
The longer this position is maintained, the more prolonged this low level of nutritional exchange becomes. In turn, this can make parts of the joint more vulnerable to injury due to being deproved of the essential nutrients it needs, especially if your specific seated position puts additional pressure on parts of the joint. There’s potential for all these contributing factors can have a detrimental effect on other underlying hip joint problems, such as arthritis or bursitis, that can be further causes of hip pain which can become more prevalent with age.
It’s important to bear in mind that not all sitting is bad for you, and it’s only an issue when you’re sat for long, uninterrupted periods. Going for short walks away from your desk or workstation every hour or so can help keep your joints happy and get the fluid in your hips moving to get nutrients where they need to be, as well as doing regular stretches to alleviate any stiffness.
If you’re able to, getting a desk which can switch between standing and sitting is one of the best options to help your hips, allowing you to change position every so often. Alternatively, you could find a spot in your workplace where you can stand to work for a short period during the day if you feel your hips are getting stiff.
Outside of work, doing any sort of hip strengthening and flexibility exercises will help to get the joint moving and the muscles in a better state to support the joint which can reduce the negative impact of sitting for prolonged amounts of time.
If you feel like hip pain is becoming particularly troublesome and is starting to interfere with your everyday life, then book a consultation with one of our hip joint specialists who can give you advice on the next steps and recommend any potential hip pain treatments.