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11 Exercises for Hip Pain

by Melissa Bell
6 minutes read

These exercises for hip pain are designed to stretch, strengthen and stabilize the structures that support your hip.

You don’t need us to tell you that sitting does a number on your hips, turning them into achy, angry landmines. The big problem, though, isn’t just the discomfort in the sides of your thighs—it’s the chain of pain that dysfunctional hips create (sciatic nerve pain being one of them).

When one joint isn’t working as it should, the rest of the body suffers. Over time, those problem hips throw your normal movement patterns out of alignment, increasing your risk for back and knee pain. It can make doing everything, from walking to climbing stairs to bending over, a chore. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We went into the specifics of hip pain in our previous article. Today we will show how you can better manage your hip pain through exercise. The following exercises for hip pain are designed to stretch and strengthen your hip support.

Before we start, please remember that it’s important to work within your pain limits and not overstretch yourself if you’re in pain. It’s normal to feel some aching in the muscles after exercising, but you should stop and seek advice if you have joint pain that lasts more than a few days.

If you’ve had a hip replacement, the following rules apply:

  • Don’t bend your hips past 90 degrees;
  • Don’t roll your knee or toes inwards;
  • Don’t twist your body as you sit or stand;
  • Don’t cross your legs or feet.

Please note that we have marked in parenthesis the area each exercise aims to improve: hip strength, stabilization, or flexibility. Let us start then!

Exercises for Hip Pain

1. Hip flexion (strengthening)


Holding onto a work surface, march on the spot to bring your knees up towards your chest alternately. Don’t go above 90 degrees.

2. Hip extension (strengthening)


Holding onto a chair or work surface for support, move your leg backwards, keeping your knee straight. Clench your buttock tightly and hold for five seconds. Don’t lean forwards.

3. Hip abduction (strengthening)


Hold onto a chair or work surface for support. Lift your leg sideways while being careful not to rotate it outwards. Hold for 5 seconds then bring it back slowly, keeping your body straight throughout.

4. Heel to buttock (strengthening)


Bend your knee to pull your heel up towards your bottom. Keep your knees in line and your kneecap pointing towards the floor.

5. Mini squat (strengthening)


Squat down until your knees are above your toes. Hold for a count of 5 if possible. Hold on to a work surface for support if you need to.

6. Short arc quadriceps (strengthening)


Roll up a towel and place it under your knee. Keeping the back of your thigh on the towel, straighten your knee to raise your foot off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and then lower slowly.

7. Quadriceps (strengthening)


Pull your toes and ankles towards you, while keeping your leg straight and pushing your knee firmly against the floor. You should feel the tightness in the front of your leg. Hold for 5 seconds and relax. This exercise can be done from a sitting position as well if more comfortable.

8. Stomach (strengthening/stabilizing)


Laying on your back with your knees bent, put your hands under the small of your back and pull your belly button down towards the floor. Hold for 20 seconds.

9. Bridging (strengthening/stabilizing)


Laying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, lift your pelvis and the lower back off the floor. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then slowly return down.

10. Knee lift (stretch)


Laying on your back, pull each knee to your chest in turn while keeping the other leg straight. Take the movement up to the point you feel a stretch, hold for approximately 10 seconds and relax. Repeat 5–10 times. If this is difficult, try sliding your heel along the floor towards your bottom to begin with, and when this feels comfortable try lifting your knee as above.

11. External hip rotation (stretch)


Sitting with your knees bent and feet together, press your knees down towards the floor using your hands as needed. Alternatively, lie on your back and part your knees, keeping the feet together. Take the movement up to the point you feel a stretch, hold for some 10 seconds and relax. Repeat 5–10 times.

For more stretching exercises, you can visit our back pain and posture program. Thank you!

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1 comment

Lea Ann June 25, 2017 - 4:55 pm

I already do the exercises except the squats and hip rotation!

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