13 Hip Arthritis Exercises to Avoid (According to Experts)

We did the research, these are the exercises health experts recommend avoiding at all costs if you have hip arthritis.


Related Articles

  • 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)

A study in 2020 showed that 14.3% of adults report hip pain almost every day of the week.

Hip pain and arthritis can significantly reduce a person's quality of life. It can hinder you from doing essential daily activities.

Living with hip arthritis means you will have to change your daily exercise routine. The last thing you want to do is make your pain worse by performing a hip arthritis exercise to avoid.

While hip pain can be discouraging, you can still live a healthy and competitive life. By steering clear of these exercises and opting for safer alternatives, you can better support your joint health and reduce the risk of worsening your hip arthritis symptoms.

Keep reading to learn about the types of exercises to avoid.

Older man doing high-intensity interval training

1. High-Intensity Interval Training

When you're living with hip pain caused by arthritis, you want to do your best to avoid high-intensity interval training. HIIT workouts typically involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by short rest periods. This is great for cardiovascular fitness. However, it can be extremely hard on the hips.

When people experience hip pain, finding workouts that increase their heart rate is challenging. Instead of doing a high-intensity workout, you'll want to find a routine that reduces the strain on your joints.

This will allow you to get the cardiovascular exercise you need without causing more pain and damage to your joints.

Giving up the exercises and activities you love can be very challenging if you have a very active lifestyle. However, there are alternatives that will allow you to focus on your heart health without triggering your hip arthritis.

Mayank Pandey, a Health Expert at Healthroid, has some thoughts about this topic.

He states, "One such exercise is high-impact activities like running or jumping. These exercises put a significant amount of stress on the hip joint, which can lead to increased inflammation and pain. Opting for low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling is best, which provide cardiovascular benefits without putting excessive strain on the hips."

Elderly man doing a deep squat with a bar

2. Deep Squats and Leg Press

You may be wondering why deep squats are a hip arthritis exercise to avoid since they target the quads and glutes. Someone with extensive hip pain but wants to find an alternative to this exercise because it requires a significant amount of range of motion in the hip joint.

Pandey also says, "The deep flexion involved in these movements can worsen hip pain and potentially cause damage to the joint. Instead, focus on modified squats or lunges that don't require as much hip flexion, such as partial squats."

If you love squatting, there are other alternatives. You can try chair squats or wall squats for a safer leg workout.

However, it's vital that you listen to your body. If these movements hurt, then it's best to avoid them. This includes weighted and unweighted movement.

Leg press also requires the same movement. These machines are often found in public gyms and can be problematic for anyone with hip arthritis.

Josh Petrawski, the CEO of Sports & Fitness Exchange, mentions that the "deep knee bends during leg presses can overload the hip joint and worsen arthritis symptoms."

You may want to consider alternative lower-body exercises. This could include leg lifts to strengthen your leg muscles without straining your hips.

Person running outside in front of water

3. Running

It's known throughout the fitness and medical industry that running is very hard on the body. The constant force of hitting the ground is tough on the joint and even more so for people with hip arthritis pain.

"However, this exercise also exposes your hip joints to forces up to three times your body weight with each foot strike, which can cause pain and inflammation in people with hip arthritis." -Robert Pustowar, Founder of Home Athlete Zone.

Going for a walk, riding a bike, swimming, or even riding an elliptical is better. It does not have a high impact and won't make your body hurt as badly.

Many professionals suggest avoiding running even on a smooth surface and a treadmill.

Elderly man performing a deadlift with a kettlebell

4. Deadlifts

Exercises that require a significant hip hinge, like deadlifts and stiff-legged deadlifts, can be problematic for hip arthritis sufferers. As you probably guessed, these movements put pressure on the hip joint and may lead to increased discomfort.

Instead, you'll want to opt for exercises that target the lower back and hamstrings without overloading the hip, such as bridges.

Dr. Brad Dieter, Ph.D., MS, is a Scientific Advisory Board Member NASM Designation and the COO at Macros Inc. He says, "Performing high-load weight lifting like weighted back squats, lunges, or deadlifts can aggravate some with hip arthritis but not all. There are no universal answers to what exercises should be avoided with hip arthritis, as each person experiences it differently."

While many weightlifting exercises can trigger inflammation, working with a professional is best. As the doctor stated above, everyone reacts differently, and what works for your hip pain may not work for someone else.

Older man doing a lunge outside

5. Lunges

Deep lunges can lead to hip discomfort, as they require a significant range of motion similar to squats. If you don't want to give up lunges completely, you can perform shallow lunges with proper form.

Lunges are a unilateral exercise, meaning they work one leg at a time. This can create imbalances in hip strength and stability if not performed correctly.

Step-ups are great alternatives to lunges. This exercise targets the same leg muscles as lunges but with less hip flexion. It's easier on the hips while still providing an excellent lower-body workout.

Elderly couple jumping

6. All Jumping Movements

The best hip arthritis exercises to avoid are any movements requiring jumping. Your hips are going to absorb a lot of the shock from hitting the ground, which isn't suitable for your pain levels.

Many jumping exercises can be modified. For example, burpees. You can do the movement without jumping up. Slowing down the experience and stepping back instead of jumping with both feet will allow you to do the movement without hurting yourself.

Elderly man hiking

7. Hiking Uneven Terrain

Walking is a great, low-impact exercise. However, walking and hiking on uneven ground can put a lot of stress on your hips.

Robert Pustowar, the Founder of Home Athlete Zone, said, "This is an outdoor activity that involves walking on uneven terrain. This activity targets your cardiovascular system, as well as your lower body and core muscles. However, this activity also causes the ground reaction force to change with every stride, which puts additional strain on your hip joints and may cause instability and discomfort."

Hiking involves a repetitive motion of walking, which can put continuous stress on the hip joints. It can also exacerbate existing hip conditions.

Steep downhill sections can be particularly challenging for the hips as well. The need to control your descent places extra strain on the hip flexors, and it can be challenging to maintain balance.

On your hike, you'll likely carry a backpack or camping gear, which can put extra weight and strain on your body. This could affect your center of gravity and balance. This added load and imbalance can make the hip joints work harder.

Elderly man smiling while playing pickleball

8. Pickleball, Soccer, and Tennis

Sports like pickleball, soccer, and tennis are other hip arthritis exercises to avoid.

According to Krista Elkins (BA, RN, CFRN, NRP, CCP-C Registered Nurse and Specialist at Health Canal), "...high-impact exercises are the best exercises to avoid with this type of condition. This includes exercise that involves sudden changes in movement, meaning sports such as tennis, pickleball, soccer, and baseball. Exercising in uneven terrain, including hiking on rocky ground, should also be avoided in people with hip arthritis."

These sports require quick movements, which can hurt your joints.

We've mentioned previously that running should be avoided, and any sports involving high-speed movement should also be avoided.

Soccer requires you to swing your legs, putting pressure on your hip joints. Repeated kicks during a game can contribute to hip fatigue, and there's the possibility of collision as well.

Tennis players need to make rapid lateral movements involving the hip abductor muscles. The strain from frequent side-to-side movements can lead to hip discomfort or overuse injuries. Pickleball requires similar movements as well.

Jerome Enad, MD, FAANA, who is an Orthopedic Surgeon, also agrees that these sports can be very harmful. "Sudden changes in movement and direction: Exercises and sports that involve sudden starting, stopping, and twisting over the hip (like tennis, basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey, handball, etc.) are usually enjoyable and social, but they cause more shear over the hip and make the symptoms and progression of hip arthritis worse."

Athletic woman using a leg extension machine

9. Leg Extensions With Heavy Weight

Danial Maman is an ACE-certified personal trainer, fitness coach, and Co-owner of My Phenom Fitness. He talks about why avoiding leg extensions with heavyweight is explicitly best to avoid. "The shearing force on the knee joint can indirectly stress the hip, especially with heavy weights."

Full-range leg extensions can be problematic for hip arthritis sufferers as they require the hip joint to move through a wide range of motion. Substitute these with partial leg extensions that don't stress the hip as much, or focus on strengthening the quadriceps using gentler exercises like seated leg extensions.

Fit elderly man using a kettlebell

10. Crossfit-Style Workouts

Crossfit workouts are known for their high-intensity, varied movements that often involve heavy lifting. These exercises can be overly strenuous for individuals with hip arthritis.

You'll want to consider opting for less intense strength training routines with lighter weights and more controlled movements. Crossfit often involves movements we've previously discussed, such as weighted squats and deadlifts.

Older women doing yoga

11. Twisting Exercises

"Twisting motions can put undue stress on the hip joint and may cause discomfort or injury." -Josh Petrawski, CEO of Sports & Fitness Exchange.

Even core exercises such as Russian twists, deep twists in yoga, and heavy medicine ball twists can put unwanted pressure on your hip joints. While it's essential to have a strong core, and it helps with balance, plenty of workouts don't require twisting.

Working with a licensed professional and investing in hip pain relief equipment can ensure your core muscles are strong and your hips aren't injured further.

Older woman doing a hip flexor stretch

12. Hip Flexor Stretches

When your hips feel tight, it may be tempting to stretch them out. However, if you have hip arthritis, over-stretching them can be very dangerous and painful.

"This occurs due to the anterior hip structures and capsule being sheared when you attempt to stretch the hip flexors, instead causing pain and inflammation. It's crucial to focus on mobility exercises that avoid overstretching the anterior hip joint to reduce irritation." - Josh Weight, Director of Gravity Physio.

Going to physical therapy is one of the best things you can do when you have hip arthritis. A professional will know what movements and stretches are safe. They'll also tell you what to avoid doing when your hips feel tight.

Woman using a hip abductor machine

13. Hip Abductor/Adductor Machines

If you've ever stepped into a gym before, you've probably seen a hip abductor and adductor machine.

This machine is designed to target the hip muscles, which are responsible for moving the legs towards and away from the body's midline. When using the hip abductor and adductor machine, you typically sit down and place your legs on padded levers on either side of your body.

This movement puts much weight and strain on your hip joints and muscles. It's not recommended that you use this machine, especially with a lot of weight.

Staying Safe with Hip Arthritis

While living with arthritis and hip pain is less than ideal, you can still live a healthy and active life. You'll have to spend more time considering your movement and prioritizing your health, but there are ways you can still do what you love.

Now that you know the hip arthritis exercise to avoid, you can start opting for safer alternatives. This will allow you to maintain your overall well-being while minimizing the risk of pain. To continue improving your health, it's vital that you work with a professional too.

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.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published