16 of the Best Hip Arthritis Exercises
Numerous studies have found that exercise is effective in minimizing the effects of hip arthritis. Find out the best hip arthritis exercises according to experts.
- The Ultimate Guide to Arthritis
- Hip Arthritis: Injury Overview
- Hip Arthritis Treatments
- The Best Hip Arthritis Exercises
- 13 Hip Arthritis Exercises to Avoid (According to Experts)
Several hundred thousand people undergo hip replacement surgery every year in the US due to hip osteoarthritis.
However, most with this condition can manage it without surgery.
Maintaining hip function is crucial for pain reduction and mobility. Left unchecked, the cartilage deterioration associated with hip arthritis can cause stiffness and pain.
That's where hip arthritis exercises can help. Research suggests that hip exercises enhance stability and improve range of motion. If you struggle with pain and low mobility, here are some of the best hip exercises for arthritis.
Range of Motion Hip Arthritis Exercises
"Gradual stretches help open up the hips and promote blood flow. Increased circulation helps relieve hip pain and reduce arthritis inflammation." - Nancy Mitchel, Registered Nurse and Contributing Writer for Assisted Living
Arthritis often affects your range of motion, making daily activities like walking, sitting, and standing difficult or even painful. The exercises below stretch and strengthen the hips, improving their overall function and making movement easier.
"This stretch increases hip and lower back flexibility while relieving tension in the hip joint. It is particularly beneficial for those with tight hip muscles." - Rick Kaselj, Founder of Exercises for Injuries
To do a knee-to-chest stretch, sit in a chair with your feet on the ground. Place your hands under one of your knees and pull it up to your chest. Hold this position for a few seconds before lowering your leg back to the floor. Repeat with the other leg.
2. Sitting External Hip Rotation
To perform external hip rotations, sit in a chair with your feet on the ground hip-width apart. Slide one foot toward your opposite knee, keeping your back straight. Hold this stretch while engaging the muscles of your glutes, then resume the first position and repeat on the other side.
3. Seated Butterfly Stretch
"The seated butterfly is an excellent exercise to strengthen the ligaments and muscles that stabilize the hip joint." - Nancy Mitchel, Registered Nurse and Contributing Writer for Assisted Living
To perform a seated butterfly stretch, sit on a yoga mat. Gently move or pull your legs together until the soles of your feet are pressing against each other.
4. Hip Rotation
"These exercises target your hip rotator muscles and improve flexibility, releasing hip joint tension and pain from arthritis." - Jean Christophe Gabler, Founder at Yogi Times
To perform this exercise, lie on a yoga mat with your knees bent so your feet are flat on the floor. Keep your knees together and rotate them toward the floor on one side as far as you are comfortable. Hold this stretch for a few seconds, then repeat it on the other side.
Strengthening Hip Arthritis Exercises
"Exercises that strengthen the hip and glute muscles are often the best for hip arthritis, especially those that load the hip muscles without putting direct pressure on the hip." - Dr. Brad Dieter, Ph.D., MS, Scientific Advisory Board Member NASM Designation, COO at Macros Inc
Hip arthritis can make movement a challenge, resulting in decreased physical activity and muscle weakness. However, strong hips are vital for many of our everyday movements. The strengthening exercises below target the hips to strengthen critical muscles while improving balance and stability.
5. Single-Leg Hip Thrust
"By strengthening the gluteus maximus and hamstrings, this exercise helps offload the sensitive anterior joint structures, improve stability, and aid function. This added stability can reduce pain and discomfort associated with hip arthritis and enhance your ability to perform daily activities." - Josh Weight, Director of Gravity Physio
To do a single-leg hip thrust, find a weight bench or low chair to support your weight. Place your upper back against this surface, bending your knees. Next, keep one foot on the ground while raising one leg, bent at 90 degrees, above the floor.
With a straight back, lower your hips toward the ground, and then use the foot on the floor to push them back into the starting position. Repeat these steps for a few reps, and then repeat them on the other side.
"Bridge Pose strengthens your back, glutes, and legs while stretching out your chest, abdomen, hips, and thighs. It promotes better alignment and support for your hip joints." - Brandt Passalacqua, Founder, Director, and Lead Teacher at Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy
Lying on a yoga mat with your knees bent and your feet at hip-width apart, brace your abdominal muscles and use your legs to push your hips into the air. Maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Lower your hips back to the ground and repeat the pose as desired.
7. Seated Leg Raises
"Seated leg raises strengthen the hip flexors and quadriceps, which support the hip joint. Strengthening these muscles can enhance stability and reduce the load on the arthritic hip." - Josh Petrawski, CEO of Sports & Fitness Exchange
To do this exercise, sit in a chair with your legs outstretched and your feet together. Setting your heels onto the floor, brace your core and lift your legs so that your body creates an L shape from head to toe.
"Clamshells work on the hip abductors, specifically the muscles on the side of the hip. Strengthening the hip abductors can improve hip joint stability and reduce the risk of exacerbating arthritis symptoms." - Hannah Shine, Personal Trainer at Hourglass Waist
To perform a clamshell, lie on your side on a yoga mat with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle and your feet stacked on top of each other. Your working leg is the leg stacked on top.
With the leg still bent, lift your knee off the ground before returning to the starting position. Do several reps, then repeat on the other side.
9. Partial Squats
"Partial squats strengthen the muscles around the hip joint, providing better support and stability. This can reduce pain and improve mobility." - Dr. Dimitar Marinov, Ph.D., Physician, specialist in Nutrition and Dietetics, Gut Health Improvement
To do a partial squat, also called a half squat, you'll stand with your feet hip-width apart. Instead of flexing your knees to a 90-degree angle or greater, as you would for a full squat, you'll bend them to a 45-degree angle.
"Lunges help strengthen your gluteal muscles as well as quadriceps. Functionally, they make it easier to get up from the floor." - Dr. Dave Candy, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, CMTPT, FAAOMPT, Owner of More 4 Life
To perform a lunge, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward with one foot, then engage your core and bend your knees, lowering your body until the knee right below you is a few inches off the floor. Stand and repeat on the other side.
Balance Hip Arthritis Exercises
Balance is another key function for safe and effective hip mobility, stability, and coordination. Poor balance raises your risk of falls and injury. The exercises below focus on strengthening the lower-body muscles involved in balance and coordination.
11. Standing Hip Extension
"It's a gentle way to stretch and strengthen the front hip muscles, which often tighten with hip arthritis." - Danial Maman, personal trainer and fitness coach, Co-owner of My Phenom Fitness
Standing hip extensions are simple: stand with your feet hip-width apart, then brace your abdominal muscles and lift your leg out behind you. Keep the knee straight, and hold the position for a few seconds before repeating on the other side. Hold onto a chair as needed for balance.
12. One Leg Balance
"This exercise improves the strength of your hip abductor muscles, improves balance, and decreases fall risk." - Dr. Dave Candy, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, CMTPT, FAAOMPT, Owner of More 4 Life
As the name suggests, this exercise is all about improving your balance on one leg. Standing upright beside a stable object you can grab onto as needed, lift one foot off the ground. Try to hold this position for at least 30 seconds on each leg
13. Clock Tap
"Clock tap enhances stability and balance while strengthening the muscles in your legs and hips." - Louise Hateley, Director / Physiotherapist at In Stride Health Clinic
To perform a clock tap, imagine you are standing on a clock face. Lift one leg and tap it against the ground where each number would sit on the face of the clock. Tap as many of the numbers as you can, and then repeat with the opposite leg.
Endurance Hip Arthritis Exercises
"Low-impact cardio exercises primarily focus on preserving joint mobility and strengthening muscles. These exercises are gentle on hip joints and promote joint lubrication. Additionally, they contribute to overall cardiovascular fitness and weight management, vital for minimizing stress on the hip joint." - Joseph Tucker, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, and Co-founder of Max Health Living
If your pain is severe, low-impact exercises are a great way to improve joint health without aggravating your symptoms
"Walking helps improve your hip muscle endurance. Additionally, low-impact aerobic exercise helps your joints secrete a lubricating synovial fluid. Start with short walks, around 5-10 minutes, and gradually increase the duration as you can up to 30 minutes or more per day. If you have hip pain when walking, using a cane in the opposite hand as the sore hip can help you walk longer without hip pain." - Dr. Dave Candy, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, CMTPT, FAAOMPT, Owner of More 4 Life
Because walking can be uncomfortable and difficult with stiff hips, you may be wondering, "Is walking good for hip arthritis?"
The answer is yes! Walking can help strengthen the muscles that support your joints. However, focus on a slow and gentle start, and talk to your doctor if you experience increased pain over time.
"Unlike most exercises, swimming is easy on the joints, doesn't add stress on the hips, helps you strengthen muscles around the hips, and can reduce joint impact. When you're in the water, the buoyancy helps offer a release from gravity, making moving and exercising easier. It also helps stimulate blood circulation and relieves joint stiffness as well as gets rid of muscle tension." - John Gardner, Co-Founder & CEO of Kickoff
To get started with swimming, consider starting with a walk. Find a pool with water low enough to walk in, then work your way up to water jogging and then swimming. If you're dealing with arthritis, a heated pool can help you stay warm, relieving pain and relaxing stiff joints.
"Cycling is a low-impact exercise that trains the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, both important muscles to target for hip arthritis. Cycling also helps improve range of motion, increasing the amount of synovial fluid in the joints and muscles for less pain. Cycling also helps with weight loss resulting in less pressure on the hips." - Praveen Guntipalli MD, Medical Director and Owner of Sanjiva Medical Spa
Biking is one of the best arthritis hip pain exercises for active fitness enthusiasts. Adapting to this exercise isn't hard, though you'll want to avoid uneven or steep ground. An indoor stationary bike is often a great way to work your way up to outdoor cycling.
"Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercises. If any exercise causes increased pain or discomfort, it's crucial to stop and consult with a healthcare professional. Regularly incorporating these exercises into a routine, along with weight management and other treatments, can help manage hip arthritis symptoms effectively." - Dr. Sean Ormond, Atlas Pain Specialists
As you begin exercising, follow a few tips.
First, start slow and avoid overdoing it, especially if you haven't exercised in a while. Too much exercise can aggravate arthritis and make pain worse. Once you feel comfortable, try to exercise your hips daily.
Listen to your body, avoiding exercises that cause pain. Consider finding a physical therapist for a personalized treatment plan.
Ease Pain With These Hip Arthritis Exercises
Combined with other treatments, daily hip arthritis exercises can improve pain and stiffness. Strong muscles and enhanced stability can even reduce stress on the joints in the long term!
As you work to manage pain and improve mobility, Carex is here to help. Check out our arthritis pain resources and products to learn more.
About the Author
Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.
You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.