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Due to its location, design, and function, the hip joint transmits truly impressive loads, both tensile and compressive. Loads of up to eight times body weight have been demonstrated in the hip joint during jogging, with potentially greater loads present during vigorous athletic competition.1 In addition to providing stability, the hip joint permits a great deal of mobility. Any imbalance between these two variables can leave the hip joint and surrounding tissues prone to soft tissue injuries, impingement syndromes, and joint dysfunction.

The hip joint consists of the articulation between the femoral head and the horseshoe shaped articulating surface of the pelvic acetabulum.


The acetabulum is formed from three bones: the ilium, ischium, and pubis.

A number of structures about the hip are uniquely adapted to transfer forces:

  • Labrum: The acetabular labrum deepens the acetabulum and increases articular congruence.
  • Ligaments: The major ligaments of the pelvis and hip are known to be the strongest in the body and are well adapted to the forces transferred between the spine and the lower extremities.
  • Muscles (Table 8-1): The abdominal musculature and the erector muscles of the spine provide further stabilization of the hip region and must be considered in conditions that affect pelvic tilt and the hip joint.

Table 8-1 Muscles Acting Across the Hip Joint

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