Before we get started with this weekend’s challenge, I would like to take a moment to wish all mothers in the Save Our Bones community a very Happy Mother’s Day. As a mother of three wonderful boys myself, I know how hard it can be to find time to take care of yourself. I sincerely hope you that you will celebrate and relax, and that this weekend will mark a new beginning of bone health and happiness!
Now on with today’s challenge, which focuses on a key area for building bone density because it’s highly susceptible to fractures: the hips.
The Side Leg Raise Hip Builder utilizes the muscles and tendons that are close to the hip joint itself, stimulating bone growth in this crucial area.
Why: Hip fractures, along with pelvic integrity, are a concern for anyone with osteoporosis, osteopenia, or even with “normal” DXA scan results. The pelvis truly is your body’s central pivot-point, combining range of motion and stability in an amazing joint structure.
Ironically, one of the hip’s strengths – its remarkable range of motion – is also its area of weakness. A certain amount of stability must be sacrificed to allow for the amount of movement your hips are capable of, so it’s of prime importance to strengthen and stabilize the joints with exercises like the Side Leg Raise Hip Builder.
The hip joints themselves are quite a marvel. Let’s take a closer look at their amazing structure.
The rounded head of the femur fits snugly into the cup-like acetabulum, or socket. To cushion the joint, the femoral head and the acetabulum are covered with articular cartilage, so called because it is intended to absorb impact in articulated joints, and it’s thicker in those areas that bear weight.
Holding the ball and socket neatly in place yet still allowing for an amazing range of motion is an arrangement of ligaments, muscles, and cartilage.
First, the acetabulum is deepened by a collar of tough, fibrous cartilage called the acetabular labrum. This effectively increases the surface area of the acetabulum, stabilizing the joint.
Three ligaments, the iliofemoral, pubofemoral, and ischiofemoral, are composed of strong tissue that help prevent hyperextension. They work to control hip joint rotation (turning the toes inward or outward), abduction (moving your leg out to the side), and extension (moving the leg out behind you). A fourth, smaller ligament, called the ligament of head of femur, connects the femoral head to the anterior edge of the acetabulum.
Interestingly, these ligaments are attached in a spiral fashion, so they actually tighten when you extend your hip joint. It’s a brilliant mechanism for adding stability and allowing you to maintain an upright position without using too much energy.
The ligaments work in concert with the anterior and posterior muscles, with the stronger muscles located where the ligaments are weakest and vice versa.
The Side Leg Raise works the abductor muscles and ligaments to stimulate bone growth deep in your hip joint.
How: To do this exercise, you’ll need:
- A 1 or 2 lbs. dumbbell (depending on your fitness level and comfort zone, you can use a dumbbell of up to 5 lbs.) or a can of food.
- An exercise mat or carpeted floor.
Let’s begin with the right hip.
- Lie on the mat on your left side.
- You can use a pillow to stabilize your head and neck, or simply tuck your arm under your head. If you prefer, you can rest your arm on the floor, bend your elbow, and hold your head with your hand. Just make sure your neck and head are comfortable.
- Bend your left knee and bring it forward, letting it rest on the floor.
- Extend your right leg. Rotate the toes forward and down, so the toes of your right leg rest on the floor.
- Place the dumbbell on the side of the hip joint of the extended leg, keeping your right hand there to stabilize the weight.
- Now slowly lift the extended leg, but not too high – the leg should be parallel to the floor, not in an angle.
- Slowly lower the leg and repeat 10 times or as many times as you can.
- Rest, then repeat 2 more sets of 10. Then switch sides.
This exercise will stimulate and build the bones in your hip joint, improving strength and density. As you practice this exercise on a regular basis, you can gradually increase the weight until you’re at 5 pounds or beyond. This exercise should be painless, so only use a weight that feels comfortable yet slightly challenging.
I hope you enjoy this hip-strengthening exercise! Please share your experience with the community by leaving a comment below.
Till next time,