Top 13 Hip Exercises To Relieve Pain

We made contact with Doug Kechijian, a physical therapist and head honcho and co-creator of Resilient Performance Systems in New York City, and also sought out Kelly Starrett, a professional physical therapist, author of Becoming a Supple Leopard and founder of MobilityWOD.

They took us step by step through how to recover from hip pain and regain usual function, beginning with the initial step of becoming more supple.

What Causes Hip Pain

The hip is the body’s biggest ball-and-socket joint. The round end of the thigh bone, known as the femoral head, is housed in the cavity called the acetabulum which is located in the pelvis. A layer of cartilage located between the two components provides cushioning and ensures smooth movement in the joint.

A hip joint permits a larger scope of motion in three dimensions than does a hinge joint like the knee; this motion encompasses flexion and extension, abduction and adduction, as well as internal and external rotation.

The hip joint is notably strong and secure, however, it is heavily utilised by athletes. The influence of repeated strain over a long period could result in changing the internal structure of the joint (known as hip obstruction), soreness, and a diminished range of motion.

Kechijian states that in the same way that other tissues in the body can change in response to stress, bones can do the same. When you initially begin rock climbing, the skin on your fingers will produce calluses to adjust to the requirements.

The hips are no different. He indicates that to respond to pressure and safeguard themselves, they put down extra pieces of bone.

Extra bone can build up around the top of the neck of the femur (cam impingement), the acetabulum (pincer impingement), or in both locations.

Too much bone affects movement and flexibility, usually consisting of bending and turning inward, and this results in additional stress in the joint which leads to further bone growth. Chronic pressure increases the probability of developing osteoarthritis or a tear in the labrum.

It has been discovered that limited hip flexibility is linked not only to hip pain but also to pain in the knees and lower back as documented in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.

The physical form will consistently discover a solution to the issue. Kechijian stresses that if your body is required to have great mobility but you don’t have it in your hips, it will get it elsewhere.

Considerations Before Starting

Performing exercises that promote flexibility and strength can be beneficial in reducing hip discomfort. These exercises may lead to some degree of uncomfortable sensations, but they should not bring about or worsen any kind of pain. If an activity is causing pain, discontinue it or attempt performing it at a slower rate or gentleness.

People who have just gotten a hip replacement should check in with a medical professional or therapist before attempting any physical exercise.

Top Hip Pain Treatments

Besides being hurt in an accident, like a labral tear or fracture, hip pain that is a result of overuse can be handled without medical assistance.

Although the nature and severity of hip problems differ from person to person and can be different depending on one’s gender due to physiological discrepancies, I still believe “the cure is generally the same,” as Kechijian states.

He emphasizes that the only thing one can have influence over are actions that can be controlled; that is, returning the mobility to the joint and then building strength and stability based on the entire range of movement.

The purpose is to get the hip functioning properly again, rather than just settling for a temporary fix, states Starrett. When we increase the efficiency of the hip, it usually reduces the degree of discomfort too, so it is the same discussion.

Do these mobility exercises regularly over the course of three to six weeks, with three to five days of practice each week. If your discomfort does not go away or worsens, talk to an expert, since you may have a considerable structural problem in the hip.

Even if you are feeling no pain, it is beneficial to carry on with these stretching workouts as a way to keep your body healthy and avoid injury. The idea behind a range of motion is that regular use is necessary to keep it; if you don’t stretch the limits from time to time, the scope of your range will reduce.

Taking care of your hips can help you reduce suffering, move with greater efficiency, enhance your athletic ability, and prevent any potential future harm.

1. Foam Roll or Massage Ball

Decreases stress in the muscles and tissue that surround the hip.

Begin by positioning yourself vertically on the foam roller with your legs bent and the soles of your feet placed flat on the ground. Put your hands on the floor behind you for stability, and move towards the edge of the foam roller so that only one of your butt cheeks is on the roller and the other one is hanging off.

Using the leg that is positioned on the rolling implement, gradually move from your buttocks up to the knee utilizing both hands and the other leg to regulate the power applied. This helps to focus on the glutes and hamstrings.

Slowly move your body towards the middle of the foam roller and slide around the leg to put pressure on the outside of the buttocks, the IT band, the thigh muscle, and the hip flexor.

Move the weight to the other leg while in the downward-facing position, and roll that leg back up in reverse while returning to the sitting position.

You can aim at particular factors more carefully by utilizing a massage ball or lacrosse ball. For this, put the ball on the ground, and use your hands and feet to keep yourself stable while slowly rolling your thighs, buttocks, or hips over the ball until you locate a knot.

Take a deep breath in, and then as you exhale, apply more and more force to the ball. Repeatably contract and release the muscle several times, then circularly massage the ball to relieve the stiff muscles.

Starrett mentions that the application of a moderate amount of pressure should not lead to any discomfort in healthy muscle and ligament tissues.

If you apply pressure to a foam roller or massage ball and it causes discomfort, the muscles or fascia in that region probably need to be loosened and you need to lessen how hard you push. In general, it is beneficial to take slow and deep breaths while foam rolling.

If the exercise produces so much hurt that you must tighten your muscles and stop breathing, you are probably putting too much effort in, which may be causing more harm than benefit.

2. Supine Hip Shifting with Internal Rotation

Kechijian explains that with this activity, one should both tilt the back of the pelvis and forcibly move the head of the femur to the back of the socket, which should reduce irritation and discomfort caused by impingement.

Lay on your back with your legs bent at a right angle and your toes pressing against the wall.

Move your legs out to either side until it is comfortable for you, making sure your thighs stay parallel and around 6 inches away from each other. Squeezing a tiny workout ball between the thighs could help you with this.

Tuck your tailbone underneath you and move your pelvis into a posterior tilt, all while keeping your lumbar region on the floor. Maintain this position and move your pelvis ever so slightly back and forth.

Kechijian states that the knees should move vertically, not horizontally while keeping the lower back steady on the floor. The concept is to be able to uncouple the hips from the back.

Do 30-40 repetitions of the activity 2 times.

3. Single-Leg Adductor and Abductor Stretches with Strap

For greater mobility in the hip joint, it is important to extend the adductors (the groin and inner thigh region) and abductors (the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae) along with the iliotibial band.

Keeping your leg raised, you will use the strap for assistance in slowly moving it to the side of your body until you can feel a certain stretching sensation in your inner thigh and groin muscles (called the hip adductors).

Bend your knee as much as is comfortable for you without wiggling your hips. Maintain your pelvis balanced, squarely situated, and unchangeable during the stretch, the same way as before.

Maintain a stretch for one minute and afterwards shift your leg from side to side, perpendicularly to your body, to exercise your hip-abductor muscles and connective tissue of your IT band. Maintain this lengthening for one minute, then carry out the same steps with the opposite leg.

Increase the difficulty of the single-leg stretch by slowly moving your leg in gradually bigger circles. You can use the strap to maintain control of the movement as you extend the range of motion in your hip. Make movements with your leg that involve keeping it straight and tracing circles in a clockwise way between five and ten times, and then do the same in the opposite direction.

Be cautious of any loud clacks or abrupt halts, as that could be an indication of hip obstruction. Put attention on keeping your hips level, lined up, and immovable the entire time you are stretching.

4. Double Hip Rotation

Lie flat on the back. Flex the knees and move them close to the torso until the soles of the feet are resting on the ground. Slowly turn the knees to the left side, bringing them closer to the ground. Turn the head so it faces the right direction while keeping the shoulders in contact with the ground.

Hold this position for 20–30 seconds. Bring back the head and knees gradually to their original position. Repeat on the opposite side.

5. Hip and Lower Back Stretch
Lying flat on the back, bend the knees and bring them toward the body until the feet are flat on the floor. Using the hands, pull both knees in toward the chest.
Breathe deeply, pulling the knees closer to the shoulders with each exhalation. Go as far as is comfortable, then hold the position for 20–30 seconds. Breathe normally.
6. Hip Flexion
Stand upright. Extend one arm out to the side and hold on to a sturdy surface, such as a wall, table, or chair, for support.
Slowly raise the right knee to the level of the hip or as far as is comfortable while keeping the left leg straight. Only hold this position for a second before placing the left foot back on the floor.
Repeat with the left knee. Do 5–10 repetitions of this exercise.
7. Hip Extension
Stand upright with the legs straight and the feet shoulder-width apart. Extend both arms out in front and hold on to a chair, table, or wall for support.
Keeping the right leg straight, lift the left leg backwards without bending the knee. Lift the leg as far as possible without causing discomfort, then clench the buttock tightly and hold the position for 5 seconds.

Repeat this stretch 5–10 times on each leg. To make the resistance more difficult, try attaching weights to the legs.

8. Hip Abduction
Stand upright. Extend the left arm out to the side and hold on to something solid, such as a chair, table, or wall.
Starting with the feet together, lift the right leg out to the right side. Keep the left leg straight and avoid rotating the hips. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then slowly return the leg to the starting position.

Perform this workout 5–10 times with one leg, then switch to the opposite leg.

9. Heel-to-Buttock Exercise
Stand upright with the legs straight and the feet shoulder-width apart. For support, hold on to a chair, table, or wall. Bending the left knee, bring the heel up toward the left buttock with the top of the foot facing the floor. Be sure to keep the right leg straight and align the knees.
Slowly lower the leg and return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise on the opposite side. Aim to do 5–10 repetitions on each leg.
10. Mini Squat
Stand upright with the feet shoulder-width apart. If necessary, hold on to a chair, table, or wall for support. Keeping the back straight, gently lower the body by bending the knees until they are above the toes. The feet should remain flat on the ground.
Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly straighten the legs to return to the starting position. Repeat these mini squats 5–10 times.
11. Short-arc Quadriceps Exercise
Lie flat on the back with a pillow or rolled-up towel beneath the right knee. Slide the left foot back toward the buttock, bending the knee. Slowly lift the right foot off the floor while keeping the back of the right knee pressed against the pillow or towel.
Hold the position for 5 seconds and then gently lower the right leg back to the starting position. Do 5–10 lifts on one leg and then switch to the opposite leg.
12. Quadriceps Exercise
Lie flat on the back and keep the legs straight throughout the exercise. Push the backs of both knees toward the floor and flex both feet by pulling the toes toward the body.
Hold the position for 5 seconds, then relax. Do 5–10 repetitions.
13. Bridging
Lie on the back, bending both legs at the knee and placing the feet flat on the floor. Keep the arms by the sides of the body with the palms facing downward. If necessary, place a small pillow underneath the neck and head for support.
Slowly lift the pelvis and lower back upward. Be sure to keep the shoulders and upper body on the floor. Hold the position for 5 seconds.
Gradually lower the back and pelvis toward the floor, starting at the top of the spine. Roll down through the spine until the entire back is flat against the floor again.

Repeat this exercise 5–10 times.


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