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Hip Joint Anatomy: A Quick And Easy Guide

By Tyler Woodward

The hip joint is an extremely important in order to be able to stand, walk and move properly. Keep reading to learn more about the hip joint and how to keep it healthy!

Contents:

Anatomy Of The Hip Joint:

Structure Of The Hip Joint

The hip joint is the point which the femur, the upper leg bone, attaches to the pelvis. This occurs through what is known as a ball and socket joint. The head of the femur forms in a ball-like structure that fits into the acetabulum, the socket of the hip joint, fitting into one another like a ball is squeezed around a glove. 

Ball and socket joints allow for a relatively degree of range of motion compared to other joints, as you can see by all the various angles and directions you can move your shoulder and hip joints. The shoulder has a much larger degree of range of motion compared to the hip, as the socket of the shoulder joint is much smaller than that of the hip socket. An easy way to think about this is like catching a baseball in a glove compared to a golf ball. The baseball will be much more stable and secure because it fits just right in the glove, while the golf ball will have a lot more room to move around. 

The femur is attached to the acetabulum (the hip socket) through the acetabular labrum and ligamentum teres. These ligaments help to hold the head of the femur in the socket. Within the socket femoral capsule, a fluid-filled substance that encloses the head of the femur within the hip socket. Lastly, there is the synovial membrane which surrounds the entire hip joint and secretes synovial fluid allowing the hip joint to move fluidly.

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Functions Of The Hip Joint:

Functions of The Hip Joint

 

The hip joint is capable of performing a few types of movement including: 

  • Flexion - Pulling the leg bone up towards the body body
  • Extension - Pushing the leg back behind the body
  • Adduction - Pushing one leg towards the other or across the midline of the body
  • Abduction - Pulling the leg out away from the body, out toward your side
  • Internal & External Rotation - Rotating the leg inside the body or outside the body (most easily seen when the knee is flexed to 90 degrees)

In addition to its many movement functions the hip joint is also responsible for bearing the weight of the body and being an essential part of the gait cycle. The hip joint moves in sequence with the lower leg and produces a pendulum like motion throughout the gait cycle. The hip flexes slightly in front of the body as the heel makes contact with the ground and from the progressively pulls the leg back until it extends behind the body. 

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Common Injuries Of The Hip Joint:

Common Injuries Of The Hip Joint

  • Hip Impingement - Due to the structure of ball & socket joints they are prone to impingements. An impingement occurs when the head of the femur is pulled out slightly away from the hip socket. This is an injury that occurs over time and significantly increases the risk of dislocation. Hip impingements can often cause pain (but not always) upon moving the joint. Additionally, impingements often cause the muscles surrounding the joint to seem extremely weak, but in reality, it’s the decreased leverage of the hip joint from the impingement that results in this weakness.

  • Hip Dislocation - In extreme cases the hip joint can be pulled completely out of its socket, resulting in a dislocation of the hip joint. Dislocated hips are very uncommon. Especially compared to dislocated shoulder joints due to the security of the shoulder joint. Dislocated hips most commonly occur due to severe impact like in car accidents, football or downhill skiing collisions. They often occur in conjunction with other injuries surrounding the hip. Like the tearing of the ligaments holding the femur in the socket. Dislocated hips must relocated into the hip as soon as possible to prevent further damaging form occurring

  • Broken Hip - A broken hip can occur when the head of the femur is fractured, separating from the hip. This becomes increasingly common with old age as the density of bones decreases, increasing the risk of fracture. Broken hips almost always require surgery in order to be functional again whether it’s screws to secure the hip, partial or full hip replacement surgery.

How To Keep The Hips Healthy:

How To Support A Healthy Hip Joint

 

In order to keep your bones healthy including the hip joint its important to keep a healthy diet & lifestyle. 

  1. Diet - It's extremely important to get enough Vitamin D (through getting enough sun), Vitamin K2 from grass-fed dairy and organ meats, and calcium primarily from milk. Consuming adequate calcium prevents your body from needing to pull from its calcium stores (your bones). This way your bones can stay strong. Vitamin D is necessary to absorb calcium enough calcium from the intestines. Vitamin K2 ensures that the calcium goes to the correct place, your bones and not your tissues.
  2. Exercise - Whether it's a daily walk, dance class or resistance training performing some form of movement is essential to maintain your bone density. If your bones do not bear enough weight over time your bone density will decrease which will over time increase the likelihood of fracturing your hip joint as you age.

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