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Loose shoulders and hips? Here’s what you can do


by Caitlin Chambers, MD

There are certain conditions women are more prone to than men. This is due to many factors, including differing movements and body structure between males and females. Among the conditions we see more often in females is a condition called laxity. Laxity is essentially when joints are looser than the average person’s joints. Shoulders and hips are two areas where this can commonly happen.

What makes women more prone to shoulder and hip laxity?

Women are more likely to have laxity in general, because their soft tissues are more likely to be looser. There is also a correlation between sport and laxity. Women tend to participate in more sports that emphasize flexibility, such as:

What to do if you think you have laxity

But the good news is, active women can get ahead of this issue by being aware of the symptoms and doing strengthening exercises. Some of the best strengthening exercises target specific areas:

  • Core
  • Back
  • Glutes

These muscle groups are all important for making your hip mechanics more stable. For a shoulder, strengthening the rotator cuff can help to stabilize the shoulder. Lighter weight lifting exercises can help with this.

Try some of these shoulder and hip exercises:

Wall Push-ups

  • Stand facing a wall, about 12 to 18 inches away.
  • Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height.
  • Slowly bend your elbows and bring your face toward the wall, moving your hips and shoulders forward together.
  • Push slowly back to the starting position.
  • Start with 5 repetitions and work up to 8 to 12.
  • Rest for a minute, and repeat the exercise.

 

Resisted Rows

Note: For this exercise, you will need elastic exercise material, such as an exercise band.  

  • Put the band around a solid object, such as a bedpost, at about waist level. Each hand should hold an end of the band.  
  • With your elbows at your sides and bent to 90 degrees, pull the band back to move your shoulder blades toward each other. Return to the starting position.  
  • Repeat 3×15.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

  • While standing with your arms at your sides, squeeze your shoulder blades together and down. Do not raise your shoulders up as you are squeezing.   
  • Hold for 6 seconds.   
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times every hour.

Clamshell

  • Lie on your side, with your affected hip on top. Keep your feet and knees together and your knees bent.
  • Raise your top knee, but keep your feet together. Do not let your hips roll back. Your legs should open up like a clamshell.
  • Hold for 6 seconds.
  • Slowly lower your knee back down. Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.
  • Switch legs and repeat steps 1 through 5, even if only one hip is sore.

Straight-leg raises

  • Lie on your side, with your affected hip on top.  
  • Tighten the front thigh muscles of your top leg to keep your knee straight.  
  • Keep your hip and your leg straight in line with the rest of your body, and keep your knee pointing forward. Do not drop your hip back.  
  • Lift your top leg straight up toward the ceiling, about 12 inches off the floor. Hold for about 6 seconds, then slowly lower your leg.  
  • 3×15, perform on both sides

Bridging

  • Lie on your back with both knees bent. Your knees should be bent about 90 degrees.
  • Then push your feet into the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and lift your hips off the floor until your shoulders, hips, and knees are all in a straight line.
  • Hold for about 6 seconds as you continue to breathe normally, and then slowly lower your hips back down to the floor and rest for up to 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

 

Taking care of laxity at TRIA

When someone comes in to TRIA, a physical therapist will check their overall range of motion. They will also perform tests that stress the hip capsule to see if it causes pain, which could be a sign of laxity.

X-rays can also help our team at TRIA to determine if a patient has laxity. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, and people who are prone to laxity tend to have a shallower socket. Our team members look for these signs before moving forward with physical therapy.

When someone does experience hip or shoulder laxity, treatment begins with physical therapy. Generally, there are good outcomes from physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles and reduce the issue of laxity.

If you’re experiencing loose shoulders and hips, or you simply want to learn more about Women’s Sports Medicine at TRIA, schedule an appointment with our Women’s Sports Medicine team or call 952-831-8742.

About Caitlin Chambers, MD
Dr. Caitlin Chambers is a sports medicine fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon. Her experience spans from caring for elite collegiate and professional athletes, including the Chicago Cubs, Blackhawks and Bears, to helping everyday patients maintain an active lifestyle. She is a team physician for the NWHL Minnesota Whitecaps and University of Minnesota athletics. She is also a part of Women’s Sports Medicine at TRIA, an all-female team of sports medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and athletic trainers dedicated to treating active and athletic women of all ages and ability.

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