I can’t believe how much I overlooked the simple squat exercise as being so necessary in fixing my hip pain. Squats were normally a part of my weekly fitness routine when I was younger. I developed other pains instead, that I had better knowledge with trying to fix, such as shoulder pain. When I bench pressed too much, my shoulders started to ache and I needed to do more rows. But, I never had this strange little hip problem until last year.
I stopped my gym membership in about 2009. Even then I was only doing squats every other week. I preferred the leg press and leg extensions. But, my health and fitness quickly declined after quitting the gym. I was in my mid 30s, so its a harder time to develop and maintain muscle. I didn’t get very lazy, there were just exercises that I felt could only be performed in a gym.
I spent many hours brainstorming what I could do for fitness. I played with many crazy ideas like: jump rope, plyometrics, suspension training, floor exercises, yoga, and others. Many of the exercises I quickly grew tired of. My motivation to exercise isn’t the same in a bedroom as it is a gym. So, my health continued to visibly decline. I could see and feel my arms shrinking and gut lose its six pack appearance. It was frustrating, but it is the price i pay for chronic joblessness.
After going through many different phases in my outside-the-gym-workouts, I really started becoming attached to the suspension training . I learned how to make my own cheap versions of TRX, from Youtube. They were great introductions into how to make a TRX, but I need to use different materials. After many months of playing with my homemade suspension trainers, I started to get stronger in the upper body. It felt good to get stronger outside the gym.
My exercises have changed a lot since the gym. My shoulders no longer hurt from doing too many bench presses. Instead, I find myself rowing a lot to work the other side of the shoulder more. This feels like a more natural movement. Also, because I’m hunched over the keyboard a lot, it’s nice to have the tighter muscles in my back to endure the strain of sitting and typing.
I started to get satisfied with my suspension training and came up with many new techniques and products to play with. Unfortunately, all the while I was largely ignoring my leg training. It was too hard to find any decent exercises to get motivated for doing on a suspension trainer. Most of my legwork came from walking and riding bicycle.
Last summer in 2012, I decided that I wanted to carry around a 10 pound bag of rocks for fitness purposes. I carried them for at least 2 miles each day. I felt tired from carrying, and I felt like I was really accomplishing something. I was (am) still unemployed and the physical tiredness seemed like good work. I didn’t really do any other kind of exercise, it mostly was walking the weights around town.
A couple months into walking weights, I noticed that my right hip started hurting. It hurt when I walked and I felt I needed to rest more. At this time I had knee problems. My knee hurt when I stepped up on things. The knee pains caused me to avoid squatting as well.
I developed knee pain that lasted for a couple years after working on plyometric exercises. It was a lot of pain in the knee cap. It was tender to the touch and made squatting nearly impossible. Ths knee pain was a strong contributor to my lack of squatting.
While I was suffering the hip pain, I tried various means to resolve it. I still wanted to carry my heavy rocks around, even though I suspected they may have also contributed to my hip pain. I tried lifting my knee up higher as I walked, which didn’t seem to help much. I tried to walk on the balls of my feet as well.
I thought that maybe my shoes could have contributed to the hip pain. My shoes are very old, about 3 years. They are worn past the rubber bottom and I nearly have a hole directly to my feet worn through. There is still some foam separating my feet from the ground.
Since shoes don’t wear out evenly, I walk a little different with the wear spots on the bottom of my shoes. I feel that I need to save money and avoid spending money since I have no income. Every time, the hip pain came up, it triggered me to think that if I only got new shoes, my hip pain would go away permanently. Now, I suspect that bad shoes may not be a major cause for hip pain.
I felt that maybe I walked too much on flat ground. Our ancestors had to walk on tougher terrain than we do today, because we have machines that are able to pave everything flat. Our walking muscles don’t get a full range of motion when we walk for many miles on flat ground. It seemed like flat ground could have been a contributing factor as well.
The winter came and I think the cold may have relieved my hip pain a little Although, the hip pain still came back when I tried to go on a long walk sometimes. It was very frustrating. I never really asked anyone what i could do for my hip pain, because the pain didn’t occur too often. I didn’t feel like anyone would understand my hip problems, since I live a different lifestyle from most other people. We all walk though, so that is a common connection, at least.
When Spring came, I was able to try new ideas for relieving my hip pain. I designed an ab straps set-up and started doing a lot of hanging leg raises. Unfortunately, I couldn’t relieve the pain at all. After a few weeks, I realized that ab straps don’t help hip pain. I also made a cushion for performing lunges on. I thought that lunges were challenging enough and should strengthen up my hip enough to help work the pain out. Unfortunately, the lunge didn’t help either. I did get stronger with lunges, but they didn’t target my hip pain.
Next, with the warmer weather, I tried climbing stairs up and down. However, after a few weeks, there was no hip pain relief. I guess that kind of exercise isn’t much different from the lunge. Although, my calves have certainly gotten stronger with the steps, so there was a nice benefits.
At last, by process of elimination, I started doing squats. Then, I finally noticed the hip pain to become reduced. I first performed squats on my suspension trainer with the ground anchor point. It feels good, but I prefer resistance over body weight. So, now I’m working with a very long strap that I can put around my shoulders and under my feet.
I will make a video demonstration to show the exercise I came up with that is more enjoyable than body weight squats:
My philosophy is that a person needs the right gear to make them think about performing certain exercises. Also, that gear has to be able to make the exercise feel impossible upon command. I can cinch up the straps to make a squat impossible to perform and that turns my squat into a static exercise.
Think about squats if you ever get hip pain while walking.
UPDATE: my hip pain keeps coming back. I think the problem could be more from foot rotation. Squats do help a lot, but more work in other areas is needed.