walking with lumbar lordosis

Hip osteoarthritis and walking: Is it indicated?

Hip osteoarthritis often limits walking. However, we often hear that it is recommended to walk in the presence of osteoarthritis. How then can this contradiction be explained? This article explains the situations where it is preferable to remain active in the presence of osteoarthritis, and when it is better to rest or find alternatives.

Definition of hip osteoarthritis


With hip osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the hip joint gradually cracks and wears away. Consequently, its damping capacity is reduced. The joint space between the bones decreases, which can cause the bones of the pelvis and the femur to rub against each other.


hip osteoarthritis


As a result of cartilage loss, damaged bones begin to form bony prominences (called osteophytes). This can cause inflammation and pain. These changes can be observed atmedical imaging (like an x-ray).


Symptoms vary from person to person, and may even be absent in some cases. In others, there is typically pain in the groin crease that may radiate to the buttock, lower back, thigh or knee. Stiffness and loss of mobility in the hip joint are often observed.


In the longer term, crackling and articular noises may set in. Weakness may also develop and limit daily activities.


To know everything about osteoarthritis of the hip, see the following article.



Benefits of walking


Before providing recommendations related to walking in the presence of osteoarthritis, let's start by listing the benefits of walking as a cardiovascular activity:


  • Nutrition and mobility of articular cartilage
  • Oxygenation of the body and the brain
  • Reduces nerve sensitivity
  • Improves cognition
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Optimizes the immune system
  • Decreases chronic inflammation
  • Reduces anxiety and symptoms of depression
  • Improves mood


With all these benefits, we can tend to recommend walking to everyone from the outset. On the other hand, in the presence of osteoarthritis of the hip, certain measures and precautions must be taken. The next section discusses the link between hip osteoarthritis and walking,



Can you walk with hip osteoarthritis?


Despite the presence of osteoarthritis of the hip, it is recommended to continue physical activity (this includes walking). Indeed, prolonged inactivity comes with several negative consequences for the health of your joints (and your overall health).


prolonged rest %CC%81 vs Osteoarthritis of the hip and walking
As with low back pain, inactivity can make hip osteoarthritis worse.

On the other hand, we must keep in mind certain premises that allow us to walk without aggravating our condition, or generating pain that would limit daily activities.


Remember the following golden rule if you wish to walk in the presence of hip osteoarthritis. To explain it better, let's use the analogy of traffic lights:


  • If the pain is unchanged after physical exertion (or even relieved), we continue because we are on the right track! (GREEN LIGHT).
  • If the pain increases after exertion, but subsides within 24-48 hours, there is nothing to worry about. The parameters can be adjusted, but it is generally a sign that the joint is adapting favorably to the effort. (YELLOW LIGHT).
  • If the pain increases and remains aggravated despite a rest period, this is a sign that an inflammatory process has been created. You must stop the activity, let the hip rest and lower the training parameters at all costs for subsequent sessions. (RED FIRE).


Thus, it is recommended to walk if the hip pain are not aggravated after the activity. On the other hand, if walking is accompanied by limping, it is better to find alternatives (like cycling), otherwise the body will compensate and develop pain elsewhere (like low back pain or pain in the opposite knee).


As mentioned, if the pain is aggravated after walking (red light), then stop the activity and consult a health professional (such as a physiotherapist or physiotherapist) who will be able to prescribe the exercises best suited to your situation.



Practical advice


Here are some practical tips for those who want to walk with hip osteoarthritis:


  • Consult your doctor before starting any walking program (especially if you suffer from any heart or lung condition)!
  • You can walk either outside (weather permitting) or on a treadmill.
  • Wear sports shoes and comfortable clothes.
  • You can use a watch that calculates your parameters such as distance, your heart rate, etc. This will help to better set your goals and improve your performance over time.
  • Do not progress several parameters drastically over a short period (For example, do not increase your walking distance at the same time as your speed within the same session). Go one setting at a time!
  • You should have faster than usual breathing which indicates an increase in your heart rate. On the other hand, you should not be out of breath and should be able to hold a conversation.
  • If the pain increases, first try to reduce speed before distance. If it persists, stop the session as a precaution. If in doubt, refer to a healthcare professional.



Bonus: Walking program


Here is a walking program if you are just starting out or want to stay active with hip osteoarthritis. Remember the precautions listed above, however, and adjust the settings according to your symptoms. A health professional will be able to guide you in case of doubt.


Week 1


  • Goal of 60 to 75 minutes of walking during the week
  • 15 minutes/day for 5 days
  •  Intensity at 50% of your maximum heart rate (HR) (HR max=220-age)
  •  Slow speed

Week 2


  • Goal of 75 to 100 minutes of walking during the week
  • 20 minutes/day for 5 days
  • Intensity at 50-60% of your maximum heart rate (HR) (HR max=220-age)
  • Slow to moderate speed


Week 3


  • Goal of 100 to 125 minutes of walking during the week
  • 25 minutes/day for 5 days
  • Intensity at 50-60% of your maximum heart rate (HR) (HR max=220-age)
  • Slow to moderate speed

Week 4


  • Goal of 125 to 150 minutes of walking during the week
  • 30 minutes/day for 5 days
  • Intensity at 60% of your maximum heart rate (HR) (HR max=220-age)
  • Moderate speed

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