How to Strengthen the Ligaments of the Hip Joint
The ligaments around your hip help keep your bones together. They're tough enough to resist hundreds of pounds of force, but sometimes the strain is too great and they get damaged. To avoid injuring them, you should be proactive and work to strengthen them. Whether you've already injured a ligament or want to prevent an injury, you can use a combination of exercise and supplementation to help them regenerate.
What Ligaments Do
Ligaments and tendons are very similar. They're both bands of tight and tough connective tissue. They're mostly composed of collagen. Tendons connect bones to muscles and are slightly more elastic. Ligaments connect bones to other bones, so they have to be less giving.
Ligaments don't have a very large blood supply, so it takes them longer to regenerate than other tissues like muscle. If a ligament becomes too stiff it's more prone to injury, similar to a rubber band that snaps when it loses its elasticity.
Your ligaments stay elastic by renewing their collagen and constantly healing themselves. You can speed up this process by stimulating ligaments with exercise and supplements.
To stimulate the ligaments around your hips to regenerate, you'll have to do some type of lower-body exercise that makes the hips move, even if it's a low-resistance exercise.
The hip is a complex joint because it can move in so many directions. There are five major ligaments in the hip and each holds a different part of the joint together.
If you want to make your ligaments more resistant to injury or heal faster, you have to put them under tension. Big weightlifting movements aren't necessary, but you should work your hip in multiple directions to stimulate all five major ligaments.
According to a 2017 study in Sports Medicine it takes about 10 minutes of exercise to fully stimulate your ligaments to regenerate. After that 10 minutes there isn't much benefit to these tissues, and you have to rest for at least six hours before training them again to get the same effect.
Move your hips in all directions with this light leg exercise.
How to: Start in an all-fours position on the ground. Your shoulders should be over your hands and your hips over your knees. Your spine should be flat. Raise your right knee off the ground and bring it forward as far as you can.
Bring it out to the right and start to form a large circle. Keep drawing the circle back behind you, keeping your knee bent. Then bring it down and back to the start position. Do five circles on each side.
Use this light deadlift motion to work your hips in a forward to backward motion.
How to: Start with a kettlebell on the floor. Stand over it with your feet shoulder-width apart. Stick your butt back and lower yourself down to grab the kettlebell with both hands. Stick your chest out, press through your heels, and pick the weight up. Thrust your hips forward and stand up straight, then put it back down on the ground.
This lunge variation works your hips in a side-to-side motion.
How to: Stand tall with your feet together. Step out to the right and lean on your right leg. Straighten out your left leg and stick your butt back. Then, lean to the left, bend the left knee, and straighten your right knee while sticking your butt back. Step your feet together and then take another step to the right, repeating the same steps. Do five steps to the right and five to the left.
According to an article from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, you can make your ligaments regenerate faster than they normally would to help prevent or heal from injuries by combining exercise with nutritional supplements.
Whichever supplement you use, try to ingest it 30 minutes before exercise. Blood supply is limited to your ligaments and it peaks when you exercise. If you want these nutrients delivered to your ligaments they should be ingested before exercise to take advantage of the increase blood flow.
How to Strengthen the Ligaments of the Hip Joint
Gelatin is a supplement derived from the collagen of animals. Take 5 to 15 grams of gelatin before your workout to increase the amount of collagen that your body is making, according to a 2016 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the same study the researchers mixed vitamin C with the gelatin.
Scurvy, which is a disease that happens when you don't get enough Vitamin C, is dangerous because you have a breakdown of collagen in your body. Supplementing with vitamin C helps reduce the amount of collagen your body breaks down. In that same 20`6 study mentioned above, ingesting 48 grams of vitamin C with 15 grams of gelatin an hour before a workout, helped subjects increase their ability to make new collagen.
- Sports Medicine: Minimizing Injury and Maximizing Return to Play: Lessons from Engineered Ligaments
- Acta Biomaterialia: Regeneration and repair of tendon and ligament tissue using collagen fibre biomaterials
- Muscles, Ligaments, and Tendons Journal: Nutraceutical supplement in the management of tendinopathies: a systematic review
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Vitamin C–enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis1,2
Henry is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer and writer. He has trained a wide range of clients, from professional athletes to working professionals. Feel free to contact Henry with any questions regarding an article that he's written.