Exercising your hips can provide many benefits, like increased flexibility, pain relief, strength and mobility.
When you practice these stretches and exercises for hip problems, you may find it easier to do things that were more difficult before, such as running, jumping, or other simple activities that involve hip motion.
That’s why I’ve put together these basic moves to help you target mobility and strength.
Hip pain is caused by numerous things, including muscle strains and injuries , arthritis, and inflammatory disorders. Gentle movability exercises can often help alleviate soreness and restore flexibility.
Peer-reviewed studies show that strength training and flexibility are important for relieving hurt hips. This list of best hip exercises shouldn’t cause or aggravate any current afflictions. If any of these new exercises causes you discomfort, stop doing it. Or try going at a slower pace.
Your hip impacts the pelvic and groin area. They’re important for keeping the body stable and moving the legs.
Strong hips are important because they support the spine and pelvis. Weakness can lead to back pain and other health issues.
These are the key areas we will be working out.
- The hip abductors are located along your outer hips . They’re important and often overlooked as they help us stand, walk, and move our legs easily.
- Your gluteus, located in your backside, help your body remain upright, keep your body going forward, and help you perform your training routines. The gluteus medius and minimus help with abduction (the movement of the leg away from the body) and impede adduction (the movement of the leg toward the body). They work together to keep our bodies stabilized.
- The hip adductors are located on your inner thighs and help you move your legs toward the middle of your body. They help provide stability during daily activities and support explosive movements such as jumping or running for athletes.
- The iliotibial (IT) band helps your hip’s extension, abduction, and rotation . It also helps to protect the outer thigh while stabilizing and moving the side of your left and right knee.
- The main function of hip flexors is to bring your hip and thigh muscles upward towards your abdomen or bring the abdomen towards your thighs.
The general program and hip mobility exercises listed below are simple and easy to do. If they cause severe pain, you should contact your physician.
This move help to open up your hips while toning your legs. There are different variations like the Bulgarian split squat; and the squat is great for hip strength, short arc quadriceps, and your knees.
- Stand upright.
- Bend your knees, lowering your body downward.
- Go back to the standing position.
- Repeat this 5 to 10 times.
This resistance band exercise works the gluteus medius effectively while engaging the hip abductor.
- Lie on your belly with your hands pointing forward.
- Put the band above the the left and right knee, straight leg raise both feet off the ground.
- Arch your back and start opening and closing your legs.
- Do 10 to 15 repetitions.
Side lunges are great for people with concerns as they open up tight groins and create flexible hips while strengthening the inner thigh and glutes.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and toes facing forward.
- Step out with your left foot as far as you can.
- Make sure you’re feeling the stretch in your groin and the soles of your feet are flat on the ground.
- Return to your original position.
- Repeat the same motion on the right side.
- Repeat this move 10 to 15 times.
Don’t let the name fool you; the “babies” workouts engages your abductors, core, and triceps.
- Sit back on your elbows with your feet together and the elastic band above the knee.
- Raise your hips to whatever height you can and push the knees outward.
- Hold the position for two seconds.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat this movement 15 to 20 times.
Banded walks are among the best exercises for runners and general fitness as it strengthens your glutes and increases hip maneuverability.
- Use a resistance band that has moderate resistance.
- Put the band around your ankles.
- Keep your back aligned and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees at a 45-degree angle.
- Walk forward or backward while keeping constant friction on the resistance band.
Side-lying Leg Lifts
Side-lying leg lifts (side-lying leg raises) are common exercises in Physical Therapy programs because they help keep hips and knees strong.
- Lie down on one side with the bottom leg slightly bent and the top leg straight back.
- Raise your top leg to a comfortable height with your foot in a flat, flexed position.
- Hold the position for three seconds.
- Lower your leg.
- Do this motion 10 to 15 times and switch to the other side.
Plié Squats open your hips and give you shapely legs.
- Spread your feet wide.
- Point your toes at a 45-degree angle.
- Place your hands on your legs or out front.
- Bend your legs at a 90-degree angle.
- Pause and hold the position.
- Lift yourself to a standing position.
- Repeat 15 times.
Half jacks are a great hip conditioning movement for your glutes and abductors. Use a lightweight resistance band to prevent injury.
- Place the band just above your knees.
- Stand up straight and carefully jump into the air letting your feet land wider than shoulder-width and flat-footed.
- Hinge your upper body forward at a 45-degree angle.
- Hop back into to starting position with your feet together.
- Hop back out into the squat position and hold for two seconds.
- Repeat for 10 to 12 reps.
You can perform the Clam Shell with or without using a resistance band. It effectively loosens and strengthens your hip muscle.
- Lay on your side.
- Bend your legs at 45 degrees.
- Place your head on your lower arm.
- Tighten your core.
- Keep your feet touching and raise the banded upper knee.
- Avoid lifting your lower leg up.
- Hold this position.
- Perform 20 reps for each side.
Reverse Clam Shell
Reverse Clam Shells are often used to relieve back and hip discomfort . This movement works the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
- Position yourself on your side with your legs slightly bent.
- Place your arm under your head for support
- Rotate your foot in an outward direction so it points up towards the ceiling.
- Keep your knees together.
- Perform 10 sets and then repeat for the opposite side.
Some people use a resistance band to make it even harder to lift and rotate your foot.
Doing scorpions effectively will tone your glutes and improve flexibility. You can do this with or without a resistance band.
- Get into a plank position with the resistance band over the knees, and your bottom arched upward.
- Drive each leg back and up, squeezing the glute at the top.
- Do 10 to 15 reps for each leg.
These circles are one of the best exercises for seniors, and improving mobility and relieving hip joint pain. It’s a low-impact move that helps weak hip muscles.
- Stand upright with feet hip-width apart.
- Extend your hands either in front of your stomach or on your hips.
- Pull one knee up until it’s parallel with the floor.
- Push the knee out, opening up your hip.
- Go back to the original position and repeat on the other side.
- Repeat this 15 to 20 times.
Single-Leg Hip Circles
A famous Pilates move, Single-Leg Hip Circles work the quads, hamstrings, glute muscles, and your abdomen. This is considered a great for beginner’s as it low impact and helps improve your range of motion.
- Position your body on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under you with toes pointed out. Your feet will be spread shoulder width.
- Tighten your core muscles and lift one leg to the side.
- Make an expansive circle with your leg to the side and front.
- Repeat 10 circles forward and then 10 circles backward on each leg.
Floor Hip Flexor Exercise
Exercises that target your hip flexors will help loosen them up and relieve any tightness. This hip flexion exercise provides a gentle stretch that can help people with hip pain find relief.
- With one knee bent, kneel onto your right leg.
- Put your right foot on the floor in front of your body
- Lean forward, so your right hip stretches downward.
- Squeeze your glutes, so your hip flexor stretches.
- Hold the position for a comfortable amount of time, typically around one minute.
- Switch to your other leg and repeat.
This move is done with resistance tubes with handles and helps increase maneuverability and flexibility in your hips.
- Tie the tubes with handles onto a secure foundation or split them over the side of a door at shoulder level.
- Use both hands to grab the handles.
- Turn sideways and take a wide stance.
- Twist your body towards the base, and pull the handles across your body like you are swinging a bat with straight arms across your chest and to the other side.
- Keep your legs straight or slightly lunge to each side as you pull the bands across.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times on each side.
This is an example of a classic training movement that is usually done with a machine. However, you can also do it independently if you want to work your glutes at home.
- Position your body on all fours.
- Extend your left leg straight behind you, then kick up towards the ceiling.
- Repeat each side at a comfortable pace.
- Hold your leg in an extended position and bend it at the knee as you kick out to shift your weight.
- Go back to the original position and do the other side.
This is a good glute workout that engages your core and abductors. It can be done with a lightweight resistance band.
- Place the elastic band just above your knees and stand shoulder-width apart.
- Step out and lungee your left knee forward as though you were starting on a pair of ice skate blades or roller blades, swinging your arms to the side.
- Hold this position for two seconds, then alternate legs.
- Repeat 12 to 15 reps on each leg.
The Bridge is a commonly used exercise, as its good for stretching the pelvic and gluteal muscles . If you want an extra challenge, use light weights and rest them across your hip bones.
- Lie down with your knees and feet flat at a comfortable distance from your hips.
- Keeping your arms by your sides, slowly lift your glutes to make a ‘bridge.’
- Hold for up to 10 seconds, keeping your shoulder blades and neck on the ground, your glutes and abs engaged the whole time.
- Slowly lower your hips back down.
- Repeat 15 to 20 times.
Give your hamstrings, quads, and glutes a true workout with Single Leg Bridges or pelvic tilts . This exercise is also known to work your upper leg and hip muscles.
- Lie flat on your back in a straight leg raise position.
- Place your hands’ palm sides on the floor.
- Bend one leg
- Slowly lift the other leg upwards
- Push downward with your heel on the floor while you lift upwards with your pelvis to place your body in a bridge position.
- Lower your body and then repeat for 15 reps per side.
This is a simple stretch that you can do on any flat surface to help loosen hips.
- Place your ankle against a flat surface, such as a table, bed, chair, etc.
- Reach your opposite arm straight up by your side.
- Lean into the lifted leg, hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and release.
- Do this stretch three times on both sides.
This resistance band exercise is great for the obliques and upper thighs.
- Lie down on your side and put the resistance band around your ankles.
- Open your legs just wide enough to give the band some tension.
- Do a leg raise, creating more tension on the resistance band.
- Return to starting position.
- Repeat 10-15 times with each leg, engaging your abs when your feet are apart.
Glute Back Presses
The Glute Back Presses are a commonly seen in physical therapy exercises as they allow patients to address hip concerns without laying down.
- Put a band around your ankles and start with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Tuck your pelvis so that your lower back lengthens and keep your body facing forward.
- Lift your leg straight back and hold the position for two seconds.
- Slowly return your leg to the starting position.
- Perform 20 reps.
Hip Exercise FAQs
You may not be prepared to return to your normal exercise routine right away, and improvements may be slow at first. However, gradual recovery from a hip injury is the best way to achieve good short and long-term results.
You should pay attention to your pain levels when doing these exercises for hips, especially in the early stage. You may find that doing these hip exercises increases your symptoms slightly at first. However, they should become easier over time. By practicing them regularly, you can help to improve movability in the hips.