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Crawl Walk Jump Run Blog

Preventing hip instability

Preventing hip instability

When speaking directly with the therapists at Crawl Walk, it is very common for patients, families and caregivers to have questions regarding items such as home exercise programs, precautions and positioning. One particular concern frequently discussed between therapists and families is how to manage or prevent instability of the hips, which is why we’re spending this blog discussing it!

What is hip instability?

When an individual is unable to spend a lot of time weight bearing through their legs, it is common to see their hips become unstable due to a shallow joint socket as well as due to weakness of the bones and muscles around the joint. Please don’t distress over this as consistent intensive therapy and activities at home can help keep these areas strong to prevent hip instability!


Controlling and preventing hip instability

While we, as therapist, are able to control the amount of time our patients are weight bearing in the clinic, this is only a small amount of time in comparison to that spent outside of the clinic. We see this in children, especially as they are always growing, which means having a consistent program to maintain and increase strength of the bones, muscles and joints is very important for continued functional progress. Compliance and understanding of a comprehensive home exercise program is imperative in order to help combat hip instability in the pediatric population.

In recent research, it is recommended that an individual should spend at least three hours per day weight bearing through the legs in order to prevent instability of the hips from occurring(1). This allows the joint to be used properly, which increases the depth of the joint and also the strength of the bones and their surrounding musculature. It is also recommended that the three hours be split into smaller weight bearing sessions, which are no more than 60 minutes at a time(1).

I can imagine all of your busy schedules coming into mind after reading that last statement (as though we all have a spare three hours each day!). Nonetheless, it is my hope that shorter bouts of weight bearing completed multiple times throughout the day would be more compatible to busy schedules.

Breaking down weight bearing activities

There are multiple ways to weight bear through the legs, whether it be standing, walking or kneeling, which all have beneficial effects on the joint. Although most studies were completed using standing programs, we understand this may be difficult for some individuals and families. For those families, we encourage you to get weight bearing time in through the use of various functional positions. If you need help with discovering good positioning specific to you or your loved one, please speak with your therapist.

Participation in different types of weight bearing activities will not only assist in a child’s progress towards short term goals but have an invaluable impact on their continued progress and future functional abilities.

If you would like more information or ideas for increasing weight bearing at home, ask your therapist at your next visit to CWJR. We would love to offer assistance in any way!

Thanks for reading!

Kendell Myers, PT, DPT

Physical Therapist


(1) http://ptjournal.apta.org/content/90/12/1868

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