8 Best Exercises for Hip Pain (and How to Do Them)

Hip pain can be especially disruptive to everyday life. If you're suffering you may experience loss of motion range, decreased strength and pain that hinders your ability to walk or run.

Sore hips can be caused by injuries, arthritis or even bad posture, but aside from prevention can anything be done to help?

Newsweek spoke to experts in the field to discover the best exercises for hip pain.

Hip Pain Treatment

Holly Soper-Doyle, chartered physiotherapist at Integrum Physiotherapy and clinical specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, told Newsweek about the importance of individualized training.

Stretches and exercises for hip pain can help improve mobility and reduce soreness. However, the best solution for ongoing discomfort is to work with a physical therapist who can recommend individual exercises and personalized advice.

"You need to ensure you exercise at the level you can manage, for example can you balance on one leg with good stability and perform a single leg heel raise or squat with good hip and knee control. If not you need to start strengthening double leg first, then progress to step-stance strengthening, and then single leg," she said.

Nell Mead, hip specialist and physiotherapist in London, echoed Soper-Doyle's advice and stressed that hip pain is a largely personal experience.

hip pain desk
Woman working on a laptop at her desk while she holds her hip in pain. m-gucci/Getty Images

Nonetheless, Mead told Newsweek that some simple exercises for hip pain can be done to help.

"One of the things that often happens very early on when your hip starts to hurt is that the powerful hip flexors at the front of your hips tend to tighten up, and the glutes at the back start to get weak and underactive.

"Rebalancing this relationship is often a useful tactic. I quite like using massage guns or tennis balls to encourage the hip flexors to relax, and then work on activating the glutes - initially isolating them and then with more load and resistance, doing step ups and lunges etc very mindfully, focusing on relaxing the hip flexors and working the glutes."

Exercises should also be approached gently, Zoe Chivers, Interim Director of Support and Services at Versus Arthritis told Newsweek.

"As a general rule of thumb, always start by exercising very gently, build up gradually, and work within your pain limits. It's normal to feel some discomfort or aching in your muscles after exercising but you should stop if you get any joint pain that doesn't go away quickly."

Here are some of the most helpful exercises for hip pain, according to the experts.

Squats

Stand up straight and place your feet shoulder-width apart, then bend at the knees and drop your butt down to the ground. Keep your arms in front of your chest.

Butterfly Stretch

Sit on the ground as if you were going to sit with your legs crossed, but instead bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fold out to the sides.

Bring your heels as close to your core as you can and lean forward as you stretch.

Bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent and both feet firmly on the floor. Lift your pelvis and lower back off the floor.

Lower your back and repeat the move.

Side Lying Leg Raise

Lie on your side with your legs outstretched and on top of each other, holding yourself up with your elbow.

Keeping your hips aligned, tighten your core and lift your top leg straight up as far as you can and slowly lower it again. Repeat the movement with your other leg.

This exercise can also be useful with an exercise band. If you have one you can place it just above your knees.

hip pain lady couch
Hip pain can lead to discomfort and pain when walking and running. m-gucci/Getty Images

Banded Walk

Stand up and place an exercise band around your ankles or above your knees. Place your feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees slightly and take a step to the side, then return to your original position.

Ensure your feet point straight while performing this exercise and remember to alternate the direction you're taking your steps in.

Heel Slide

Lie on your back. Bend your leg and slide your knee towards your chest. Slide your heel down again and straighten your knee slowly.

Knee Lift

Lie on your back. Pull each knee to your chest in turn, keeping the other leg straight. Take the movement up to the point you feel a stretch, hold for around 10 seconds and relax. Repeat 5-10 times.

If this is too difficult, stick with the heel slide until it feels comfortable to lift your knee.

Hip Flexion

Hold on to a work surface and march on the spot to bring your knees up towards your chest alternately. Your physiotherapist may recommend that you don't raise your knee above hip level.

old woman hip pain
A woman winces and holds her hip in pain. RobertoDavid/Getty Images

Specialists stress the importance of adequate technique and care in performing hip exercises at home.

Better technique helps target deeper muscles and strengthen joints, Soper-Doyle added: "In many hip pathologies we see atrophy of the muscles deepest to the joint which have an important role in proprioception.

"Technique with exercises is also key as anyone can perform an exercise with poor technique, allowing more superficial muscles to take over instead of working the deep muscles. Also the correct strength training is key to adaptation and hypertrophy of muscles."

There are plenty of muscles and muscular groups that you can target and work on to alleviate hip pain, Soper-Doyle highlighted which are the best ones to exercise.

"Deep Gluteals, gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, hip flexors, transverse abdominus, quadriceps, hamstrings and adductors, you want a balance of muscle strength in all the muscles that act on the hip. Also key to strengthen the entire kinetic chain, for example ankle strength can directly influence shearing forces," she told Newsweek.