What specific exercise or activity at home can a senior participate in to strengthen specifically the hip joints to help prevent a fall, since we know that hip breaks are serious for seniors?
1. Standing Hip Flexor (SHF)
This exercise stretches the front hip flexors. It is a helpful exercise, particularly for seniors with lower back pain and for building hip flexor strength. Here is how: Stand with your feet apart and your hands on your hip. Step your left foot forward a foot and a half. Gradually bend your left knee, and raise your right heel off the floor. Bend forward and squeeze your right glute in this position and hold for 30-90 seconds. Repeat on the other side with your right foot in front.
2. Butterfly Pose
The butterfly pose works on your flexors and adductors. It improves flexibility in your lower back, loosening up your groin inner thighs muscles which draw your legs together and hips. This helps to preserve stability and balance and stimulates blood flow. Sit straight on the floor and imagine a string attached to your back, bringing your spine into proper alignment. Bend your knees and make sure the soles of your feet touch at the center in the butterfly position. With an upright spine, grab hold of each foot with your hands. Breathe in, and exhale while lowering your torso forward. Hold when you feel the stretch. Maintain it for 60 seconds.
3. Standing Hip Extension
This exercise targets the gluteus muscles, ensures pelvic alignment, and supports your lower back. It enhances the strength and resilience of your glutes, challenging your balance. With the shoulders wide apart, keep your back straight while standing. Ensure your knees are straight and locked. Hold your hands on your hips for stability, extend your right leg back, and keep your toes on the ground. Your legs will form a triangle-like position. Gently raise your right hip backward without arching your back. Return your foot to the starting position and repeat ten times.
4. Prone Straight Leg Raise
Core strength is very much related to balance because adequate stability at the core provides safe and effective movement at your hip, knees, and ankle. This hip extension practice improves core muscle resilience and helps ease hip pain. Here is how: Begin by lying face down on a mat. Then tense your core muscles by sucking in your stomach. Slowly lift one leg, keeping your stomach on the mat and your buttocks tight. After 3 seconds, gradually lower your leg. Repeat this movement ten times and on the other leg.
5. Side Hip Raises
This hip stabilizing exercise builds the strength of your obliques, which are responsible for moving the spine and stabilizing the pelvis and lower back. Here is how: Lay on your right side on the mat. Use a pillow/towel for cushioning if required. Put your forearm on the floor to stabilize your weight, if required. Slowly lift your left leg as far as you feel comfortable, and gradually bring it back down to meet the right leg. Keep it slow; try to count to at least five as you bring your leg up and down. Repeat this five times, roll over to lay on your left side, and repeat.