Judo/pain in hip

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Question
I love martial arts especially Judo but this problem still comes up in the front of my hip joints.  I get this pain that feels like aching in my joints were my femur connects to my pelvis.  The joints will be sensitive for a few weeks after hard training.  Situps not crunches seem to hit exactly where the pain is.  I'm 35 and my doctors can't give me an answer.  Is it time to switch to another martial art or is there something I can do to stay healthy and still do Judo?

Answer
Of course, it is impossible to diagnose your specific problem enough to be sure what the pain comes from, but I can tell you about my experience. I have had similar pains for probably 15 years. Eventually I couldn't take long steps when walking without feeling pain, but it was better when I was warmed up.

I was about 40 when I started seeing a doctor about it, after doing judo for over 30 years. My orthopedic surgeon started with various tests and physical therapy. There is a tendon at the front of the hip that may need specific stretching exercises to relieve some of the pain (if this tendon is causing or contributing to the problem). The pain you describe during situps is the kind I would feel in this tendon, but it is so close to the hip joint it is hard to tell which pain is which.

Eventually, after waiting as long as I could, I had my first surgery to try to repair any tears in the surface of my hip joint, but it was unsuccessful and it confirmed that I had arthritis that had worn away much of the joint surface. When the arthritis starts causing pain then you naturally move your hip less (like taking shorter steps or working out less) and this results in the tendons tightening so that you start feeling pain there too. Stretching it out helps relieve the tendon pain, but not the joint pain.

I had my hip replaced a few years later (since then I had my other hip replaced and my first one replaced again). This resolved the pain in my joint and allowed me to stretch better, get more active, and I continue to work on the tight tendon but it still hurts some. Replacing the hip solved most of my problem though.

I hope yours is not this serious, but if it is, the operation is pretty easy to recover from. I continued to teach judo through all of this, but I cut back on randori and took it a little easy. I am now able to do just about everything. I don't think the judo caused the arthritis -- in fact it is definitely good for me overall. So I encourage you to keep up the judo, and find a doctor or therapist who can identify the problem. Your situation may not be the same as mine. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

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Neil Ohlenkamp

Expertise

Mr. Ohlenkamp can answer any questions about Judo having practiced it since 1968. Author of a best-selling book on Judo and a 7th degree black belt, he compiled a comprehensive web site (JudoInfo.com) to provide the information to everyone.

Experience

Mr. Ohlenkamp has been practicing judo continuously since 1968, as a student, athlete, competitor, teacher, coach, referee, leader, and author.

Organizations
United States Judo Association, United States Judo Federation, Nanka Yudanshakai, United States Ju-Jitsu Federation, Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo, Japan, Encino Judo Club.

Publications
As a pioneer in promoting martial arts around the world through the internet, Mr. Ohlenkamp created one of the first web pages devoted to Judo. Since 1995 his Judo Information Site at JudoInfo.com has been the most highly acclaimed, most popular, and most comprehensive Judo web site on the internet. He runs several other Judo sites like JudoForum.com, DoJudo.com, and BlackBeltJudo.com. He has authored a best selling book on Judo, contributed to other martial arts books, and had articles published in most major Judo publications. The U.S. edition of his book is Judo Unleashed (2006, McGraw-Hill) but is also available under other titles in the UK, Germany, Russia, and The Netherlands.

Education/Credentials
Mr. Ohlenkamp is a 7th degree black belt and has been nationally certified as a Judo instructor, coach, and rank examiner. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Child Development with a specialty in recreation from California State University, Northridge.

Awards and Honors
US Judo Coach of the Year-1999, U.S. Team Coach at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, Korea, the 1989 World Championships for the Blind in Manchester, England, and the 1990 World Championships and Games for the Disabled in Assen, Netherlands, and member of the International Blind Sports Association Judo Technical Committee from 1988 to 1993. 6th degree black belt in USJJF jujitsu.

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