exercises for pain in hips

Exercises for Hip Pain Sufferers

Living with hip pain can be debilitating, affecting everything from our ability to walk comfortably to our overall mental well-being. However, for many, there’s a beacon of hope in the form of targeted exercises that not only offer pain relief but can also improve mobility and strength in the hip joint. This comprehensive guide is tailored to those navigating the challenges of hip pain and aims to equip sufferers with functional exercises and advice that can enhance their quality of life. Whether you’re looking to start a new exercise regimen or to supplement your current treatment plan, the following could mark the start of a brighter, more mobile chapter.

Why Exercise Could Be Your Best Medicine for Hip Pain

Understanding the sources of your pain is crucial for effective management. Hip pain, which can be debilitating, may arise from a variety of causes including injury, overuse, arthritis, or even from conditions affecting other areas of the body that refer pain to the hip. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to accurately diagnose the root cause of your hip pain. However, regardless of the origin, incorporating targeted exercises into your routine can often provide significant relief and improve your overall quality of life.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

The initial step in addressing discomfort is identifying its root cause. Whether stemming from sudden injuries like a hip flexor strain or a labral tear, or from ongoing issues such as osteoarthritis or bursitis, each condition presents unique obstacles. Identifying the specific origin of your pain is crucial as it dictates the most effective exercises tailored to your distinct situation. Here are some common causes of hip pain.

  • Osteoarthritis: A degenerative joint disease causing the cartilage in the hip joint to wear down.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune condition that leads to inflammation of the joints.
  • Bursitis: The inflammation of the bursae, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the hip joint.
  • Tendinitis: Inflammation or irritation of the tendons around the hip joint.
  • Labral tear: A tear in the cartilage that surrounds the outside rim of the hip joint socket.
  • Hip fractures: Breaks in the femur bone close to the hip joint, more common in older adults.
  • Snapping hip syndrome: A condition where you feel a snapping sensation or hear a snapping sound in the hip when you walk, run, or stand up.
  • Sports injuries: Injuries sustained through sports that can affect the hip, such as strains or sprains.

Why Exercise is Important in Managing Hip Pain

Exercise isn’t just beneficial for physical well-being; it also serves as a mental release for many. For individuals experiencing hip pain, engaging in a suitable exercise routine plays a pivotal role in maintaining joint health, regulating weight, and enhancing overall strength. This proactive approach not only helps alleviate pain but also minimizes the risk of potential further injury. Additionally, even for those dealing with conditions like arthritis, which often leads to stiffness and discomfort, incorporating appropriate exercises can contribute to maintaining strong and flexible surrounding muscles, thereby supporting joint function and mobility.

Tailored Exercises for Different Types of Hip Pain

The key to reaping the full benefits of exercise lies in the specificity of your routine. Here we’ll explore different exercises that can be tailored to help manage hip pain according to its root cause. I will also be including some youtube videos for demonstration purposes.

Stretching Exercises for Hip Pain

Stretching is essential for increasing flexibility and reducing muscle tension, both of which can alleviate pressure on the hip joint. For those with tight hip flexors or IT bands, the right stretches can be a game-changer. Simple movements such as the pigeon pose from yoga or standing hamstring stretches can provide immediate relief. Here some stretching exercises for hip pain.

Hip Flexor Stretch

The Hip Flexor Stretch targets the muscles in the front part of your hip, helping to ease tension in tight hip flexors. To perform:

  1. Begin in a forward lunge position, with your right foot forward and left knee on the ground.
  2. Shift your body weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip.
  3. Reach upwards with your left arm, and slightly lean to the right to intensify the stretch.
  4. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, and then switch to the other side.

Seated Butterfly Stretch

This exercise focuses on the inner thighs, hips, and lower back. It is especially beneficial for those with tight groin muscles. To perform:

  1. Sit on the floor with your back straight, and bring the soles of your feet together in front of you.
  2. Hold your feet with your hands and gently press your knees down towards the floor.
  3. Lean forward from your hips to deepen the stretch, holding for 15-30 seconds.

IT Band Stretch

The IT Band Stretch is crucial for individuals experiencing iliotibial band syndrome, which is common among runners and can contribute to hip pain. To perform:

  1. Stand upright and cross your right leg behind your left.
  2. Extend your left arm over your head and lean to the left side until you feel a stretch along the right side of your body.
  3. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds, then switch sides, crossing your left leg behind your right and leaning to the right.

Incorporating these stretching exercises into your daily routine can significantly mitigate hip discomfort by improving mobility and reducing tension around the hip joint. It’s recommended to perform these stretches at least once a day, particularly before and after other forms of exercise, to maintain hip mobility and prevent further pain.

Strengthening Exercises for Hip Pain

Strengthening exercises are particularly beneficial for those with conditions like osteoarthritis. By bolstering the muscles around the joint, you’re effectively adding another layer of support, which can reduce the impact your condition has on your daily life. Squats, lunges, and side leg lifts are examples of exercises that can build the necessary strength over time. Here are some strengthening exercises for hip pain. I am adding youtube tutorials here as well for demonstration purposes.

Bridge Exercise

The Bridge is an excellent exercise for strengthening the gluteus maximus, which plays a crucial role in hip mobility and stability. To perform:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart.
  2. Press your feet into the ground and lift your hips towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly lowering your hips back to the starting position.
  4. Perform 10-15 repetitions.

Standing Hip Abduction

This exercise targets the muscles on the outer thigh and hip, which are essential for hip stability and lateral movements. To perform:

  1. Stand upright with your feet together. You may hold onto a chair or wall for balance.
  2. Keeping your leg straight, lift your right leg out to the side as far as comfortably possible.
  3. Hold for a second at the top of the movement, then lower your leg back to the starting position.
  4. Perform 10-15 repetitions on each side.

Clamshell Exercise

The Clamshell exercise is great for strengthening the outer hip muscles and improving hip stability. To perform:

  1. Lie on your side with your hips and knees bent, and legs stacked on top of each other.
  2. Keeping your feet together, open your top knee as far as you can without moving your pelvis or lower back.
  3. Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly close your knees back together.
  4. Perform 10-15 repetitions on each side.

Incorporating these strengthening exercises into your routine can not only help relieve hip pain but also prevent further injuries by building a strong, supportive structure around the hip joint. Consistent practice is key, aiming for at least 2-3 times a week, gradually increasing repetitions as your strength improves.

Low-Impact Cardio for Pain Management

While it’s important to engage in exercises that target the hip, cardiovascular exercises are equally crucial for promoting blood flow and overall health. Low-impact options like swimming, cycling, or using an elliptical machine are gentle on the hip while still providing the necessary cardiovascular benefits. Let’s learn about some low-impact cardio for pain management and improved mobility.


Swimming is an ideal low-impact cardiovascular exercise for managing hip pain, as the buoyancy of water supports your body, reducing stress on the hip joints. Exercises like water walking or aqua jogging can particularly benefit those seeking gentle yet effective workouts. To begin:

  1. Start in the shallow end of the pool, gradually moving to deeper water as you become more comfortable.
  2. Aim to maintain a consistent, brisk pace, similar to how you would walk or jog on land.
  3. Use swim aids like water noodles or aqua jogging belts for added buoyancy if needed.
  4. Perform for 15-30 minutes, adjusting the duration based on your individual capacity.


Cycling, either on a stationary bike or outdoor bicycle, offers a fantastic cardiovascular workout with minimal hip joint strain. It can help improve joint mobility and build strength in the muscles supporting the hips. For an effective cycling session:

  1. Adjust the bike seat and handlebar to ensure a comfortable position that minimizes hip flexion.
  2. Start with a warm-up at a slow, steady pace for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Gradually increase the resistance or speed, maintaining a pace that elevates your heart rate without causing pain.
  4. Aim for a cycling duration of 20-40 minutes, depending on your pain tolerance and fitness level.

Elliptical Training

a man doing cardio

The elliptical machine is another excellent option for low-impact cardio. It simulates the motion of running without the hard impact on the hips and joints. Plus, many elliptical machines offer adjustable resistance and incline to tailor your workout. To use the elliptical effectively:

  1. Stand upright with a straight posture, gently holding onto the handles for balance without leaning heavily on them.
  2. Set the machine to a low resistance to start, gradually increasing as your hips become stronger and more flexible.
  3. Focus on a smooth, continuous motion to ensure your hips are moving through their full range without discomfort.
  4. Aim for 20-30 minutes per session, adjusting the duration and intensity as your endurance improves.

Incorporating these low-impact cardio exercises into your pain management and mobility improvement routine can offer significant benefits. Not only do they enhance cardiovascular health, but they also play a critical role in strengthening the muscles around the hip joint, improving flexibility, and reducing pain. These exercises also help significantly with burning stomach fat. Always listen to your body and consult with a healthcare professional to tailor the exercises to your specific needs.

Safety First: Tips for Incorporating Exercise Safely

Starting a new exercise routine when you’re managing hip pain can be daunting. Understanding how to modify your exercise for safety and efficacy is key to successful pain management. Let’s explore how we can incorporate exercises for pain in hip.

Maintaining Proper Form and Technique

Regardless of the exercise you choose, improper form or technique can lead to further injury and setbacks in your fitness journey. It is crucial to take the time to learn and master the correct way to perform each movement, focusing on proper alignment and muscle engagement. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a qualified fitness professional who can provide personalized advice and corrections to help you optimize your workout routine and prevent injuries. Your commitment to mastering proper form will not only enhance the effectiveness of your exercises but also contribute to your long-term physical well-being.

Gradual Progression is Key

When you’re dealing with hip pain, it’s crucial to begin your workouts at a gentle pace, gradually ramping up either the intensity or duration. It’s tempting to push yourself for immediate progress, but remember that overexertion could lead to setbacks in your recovery journey. Taking the time to listen to your body and make gradual, sustainable progress is key to managing hip discomfort effectively.

Listen to Your Body

One crucial aspect to keep in mind when engaging in physical activity is the importance of listening to the signals your body sends. If you experience any discomfort or sensations that seem off, it’s vital to pause, reassess, and potentially modify your approach. While some level of discomfort can be expected when trying out new exercises, it’s essential to differentiate between discomfort and actual pain, as pushing through pain can lead to injuries and setbacks in your fitness journey. Your body’s feedback is valuable, so tune in and adjust your routine accordingly to ensure a safe and effective workout experience.

Making Exercise a Usual Part of Your Routine

Consistency is king when it comes to exercise and managing hip pain. Let’s discover how to integrate these exercises into your daily life without feeling overwhelmed.

Setting Realistic Goals

Begin your journey by setting attainable goals that align with your aspirations. These goals can range from committing to walking a specific distance daily to completing a set number of exercises weekly. By maintaining consistency and dedication to these small yet impactful objectives, you pave the way for sustainable, long-term results.

Creating a Routine That Works for You

Routines are comforting because they’re predictable and provide a sense of structure to our days. By incorporating your exercise plan into your daily routine, you not only increase the chances of sticking with it but also create a dedicated time for physical activity that fits seamlessly into your day. Whether it’s a brisk morning session before heading to work to kickstart your day with energy or an evening workout post-dinner to unwind and de-stress, finding what best aligns with your schedule and preferences is key to establishing a sustainable exercise habit.

Seeking Professional Guidance

At times, when you find yourself seeking to enhance your productivity, consulting a professional can be the most beneficial step. By collaborating with a physical therapist, you can access a custom-tailored exercise regimen designed to address your individual condition, thereby guaranteeing that you are prioritizing your body’s well-being. Seeking expert guidance in this manner can lead to long-term health benefits and improved overall fitness levels.

Commonly Asked Questions About Hip Pain and Exercise

We’ll address some common concerns that often arise when incorporating exercise into a hip pain management plan.

Can I Exercise While I’m in Pain?

In many cases, exercise is not only safe but recommended, even while experiencing mild to moderate pain. However, certain exercises should be avoided during flare-ups. Always check with your healthcare professional for personalized advice.

What Equipment Do I Need?

You don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment to get started with hip exercises. Many can be done using just your body weight or simple tools like resistance bands or stability balls.

Will Exercise Make My Hip Pain Go Away Completely?

Exercise is not a cure-all, but it can significantly reduce pain levels and improve functionality over time. Combined with other treatments, such as medication or physical therapy, it can be part of a multi-faceted approach to managing hip pain.

How Often Should I Exercise for Hip Pain?

The frequency of your workouts should be tailored to your individual pain threshold and overall health status. Generally, aiming for a minimum of three times a week can stimulate significant improvements in pain management and mobility. This schedule allows your body adequate recovery time between sessions, which is crucial for tissue healing and strength building. However, incorporating lighter, daily activities such as walking or stretching can also be beneficial and promote continuous movement without overstraining the hip.

Can Yoga or Pilates Help with My Hip Pain?

Yes, yoga and Pilates can be particularly effective for managing hip pain because they focus on strengthening and stretching key muscle groups surrounding the hips. These exercises also enhance core stability and balance, which can alleviate pressure on the hips. Practices like yoga further incorporate mindfulness and breathing techniques that can reduce the stress often associated with chronic pain conditions. Always ensure you’re guided by a certified instructor aware of your limitations to customize poses and movements for your safety.

Is It Normal for the Pain to Increase When I Start a New Exercise?

An initial increase in discomfort can occur as you begin exercising and challenging the muscles and joints in new ways. Pain may be part of the body’s adaptation to increased activity, particularly if you’ve been inactive. If the pain is mild and diminishes as the body warms up, it might simply be an initial response to the increased demands of exercise. However, persistent or intensifying pain during or after exercise warrants reevaluation of your routine or consultation with a health professional to ensure exercises are being performed correctly and are appropriate for your condition.

Testimonials and Success Stories

Real-life experiences with exercise and hip pain can serve as powerful motivation and guidance. Here are a few examples of people who have found success through targeted exercise plans.

Success Story 1: Overcoming Hip Pain with Physical Therapy

Julia, a 45-year-old office worker, had been struggling with chronic hip pain for over a year, making her daily commute and office work increasingly difficult. Determined to find relief, she consulted a physical therapist who specialized in joint pain. After a comprehensive assessment, her therapist designed a personalized exercise program focusing on strengthening her hip muscles, improving flexibility, and enhancing overall stability. Julia committed to her tailored exercise routine, attending therapy sessions three times a week and performing additional exercises at home.

Within just a few months, she noticed significant improvements in her hip pain and mobility. The exercises not only helped alleviate her pain but also corrected her posture and walking gait, which were contributing to her discomfort. Julia’s commitment to her physical therapy regimen and exercises transformed her life, allowing her to enjoy her daily activities without the looming shadow of hip pain. This experience reinforced the powerful impact of personalized exercise programs in managing chronic pain and regaining a sense of normalcy.

Success Story 2: Strengthening Exercises Changed My Life

Jonathan, a 50-year-old with persistent hip discomfort, found significant relief by incorporating strengthening exercises into his daily routine. Initially skeptical, he noticed improvements in his mobility and pain levels within just a few weeks. “The exercises were simple but effective. They’ve not only alleviated my hip pain but also improved my overall fitness,” Jonathan shares. His commitment to a regular exercise regimen has transformed his quality of life, proving that targeted physical activity can be a game-changer for managing chronic conditions.

Success Story 3: Walking My Way to Less Pain

Maria, a long-time sufferer of hip pain due to arthritis, decided to take up walking every day around her neighborhood. Over time, she gradually increased her distance and pace. “I couldn’t believe the difference it made,” Maria recounts. “Not only did my hip pain decrease, but I also felt more energetic throughout the day.” Walking, a low-impact exercise, proved to be the perfect way for her to manage her hip pain sustainably while also enjoying the benefits of fresh air and nature. Maria’s story highlights how even the simplest forms of exercise can lead to significant health improvements.

Testimonial from a Physical Therapist

An experienced physical therapist shares their insights on how certain exercises can alleviate pain for their patients, offering professional expertise on the matter.

“In my 20 years of practice, I’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of exercise in managing hip pain,” says Dr. Angela Ford, a leading physical therapist. She recounts the story of Mark, a 35-year-old marathon runner sidelined by debilitating hip pain. “Mark was devastated, thinking he might never run again. We started with basic flexibility and strengthening exercises, gradually building up intensity. Within six months, not only had his pain decreased considerably, but he was back to running short distances.” Dr. Ford emphasizes the importance of a personalized approach, noting, “What works for one person may not work for another, which is why tailoring the exercise program to the individual’s specific needs and pain level is crucial.” Mark’s story is just one of many that illustrate the critical role of exercise in overcoming hip pain and reclaiming an active lifestyle.


Hip pain is a common ailment, but it doesn’t have to be a roadblock to a full and active life. By arming yourself with knowledge about targeted exercises, you empower yourself to take control of your pain management. Remember, starting small and staying consistent can lead to significant improvements in both pain levels and overall quality of life. Don’t hesitate to take that first step – your hips will thank you for it.

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