Keep Hips Healthy for Post-Retirement Activities


Pain, soreness and weakness in the hips can interfere with desired activity levels, particularly for men and women 65 years old and older. For active Americans trying to enjoy their retirement years, poor hip health simply isn’t part of the plan—but that doesn’t mean they’re destined to miss out on life’s many pursuits. The good news is that physical therapy can help seniors remain physically active by addressing small issues before they grow. 

Many are surprised to learn that when it comes to hip pain, the answer is closer than they think. According to Harvard Medical School, strengthening the surrounding muscles—including the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings—can take some of the stress off of the hips. Learning to take care of our hips as we age means recognizing when a new pain or limitation arises, and making sure it’s addressed by a healthcare professional to avoid mobility loss and prevent surgery. 

Addressing pain or weakness at the first sign of a problem is important at any age, but it’s particularly important for seniors as concerns including fall risk and bone loss increase as we age. According to a recent study in The Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, hip weakness and poor hip motion can lead to other problems, including knee and back pain. To prevent pain from worsening or moving to other areas, make an appointment with a physical therapist who will assess and address mobility issues and associated pain with a customized treatment plan. 

When devising an exercise program, the physical therapist begins with an evaluation of the patient’s pain, functional ability, strength, balance and endurance. In addition, the PT will gather a thorough medical history and request a complete picture of the patient’s current activity level as well as goals for participating in additional recreational, sports or leisure activities. 

Once the hip pain and any surrounding weaknesses have been adequately addressed under the supervision of a physical therapist, patients can often return to challenging their joints, bones and muscles in a controlled, progressive manner—and resume the level of activity they’re accustomed to. Upon discharge, the prescribed home exercise program is critical to maintaining good hip health and strength into the foreseeable future. 

About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association 

Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org.

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