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woman performing hip exercises to relieve hip pain
By In-house Team, Circle Health Group

Your guide to hip pain exercises

Hip pain is very common, and even mild hip pain can seriously impact your quality of life. We share the exercises our physiotherapists recommend to combat hip pain by improving flexibility and strengthening your hip muscles

An overview of hip pain exercises

Your hip joint is formed of a ball at the top of your femur (thigh bone), also known as your femoral head, and a socket in your pelvis, called your acetabulum.

A problem in your joint might cause you to experience pain in your groin (the upper inside area of your thigh), the front part of your leg, knee, and buttocks. You could also experience pain in the lateral (outer) part of your hip.

How can physiotherapy exercises help?

An Orthopaedic Surgeon might recommend  to alleviate your pain and improve movement in your hip or leg. Your Orthopaedic Consultant could refer you to a Physiotherapist to treat hip pain induced by following conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis: This is a common form of arthritis that causes your cartilage (the tissue cushioning your hip joint) to deteriorate. As a result, the bones that form your joint rub together, causing pain, stiffness and limited movement in your hip and leg. You could experience pain in your groin (inner thigh) and around the front or side of your thigh.
  • Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS): GTPS, also referred to as trochanteric bursitis, is a condition that can cause pain around your greater trochanter (a bony area on the outside of your hip). This could be caused by an injury or inflammation in the tissue that surrounds your greater trochanter, such as your muscles and tendons (the tissue that connects muscle to your bone). You might find that your pain feels worse after sitting for too long, crossing your legs when sitting down, or climbing stairs. Your pain could also increase after performing physical activity.
  • Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI): FAI, more commonly known as a hip impingement, occurs when there is excessive bone growth in the bones that form your hip joint. As a result, your bones do not properly fit inside your joint, causing them to rub together when you move your hip or knee.

You could also benefit from physiotherapy hip pain exercises if you have recently undergone an operation, such as hip replacement surgery. Physiotherapy can strengthen the muscles around your joint, boost your overall health and support your recovery.

Common symptoms that hip exercises can improve

Hip pain exercises could relieve symptoms such as:

Lateral pain: Lateral hip pain exercises can alleviate pain in the lateral or outer area of your hip. These could include standing abduction exercises, where you will be asked to move your leg on the affected side of your hip while in a standing position. This exercise could be carried out while lying down on your unaffected side.

Lower back pain: Physiotherapy exercises for hip pain and lower back pain could include a range of stretches. You could benefit doing from non-weight bearing sports, such as swimming.

Referred pain: This describes pain away from the site of your hip condition or injury. Hip strengthening exercises for knee pain could improve movement and referred pain in your knee. 

Pain during pregnancy: An estimated 45% of women experience pelvic girdle pain (pain in any of your pelvic joints) during pregnancy. This can cause pain in your lower back, hip, or abdomen (tummy). A Physiotherapist can provide you with exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that support your womb and bowel). These can become stretched during pregnancy due to the weight of your foetus (unborn baby). You could also be recommended specific gluteal (buttock) and abdominal exercises to support your pelvic floor. 

Pain that is aggravated by activity: If you experience increased pain after physical activity, physiotherapy could help relieve this.

Stiffness: A Physiotherapist can guide you through exercises to relieve osteoarthritis hip pain and stiffness, which will encourage movement in your hip and strengthen your muscles.

Physiotherapy can strengthen the muscles around your joint, boost your overall health and support your recovery.

Exercises that you can do with a Physiotherapist

Hip strengthening exercises

1. The Clam

The clam is a strengthening exercise for your hip and gluteal (buttock) muscles.

How to strengthen your muscles with the clam:

  • Begin by lying on your side with your weaker hip facing upwards;
  • Keep your ankles together, and
  • Slowly lift your top knee off the knee that is underneath.

This exercise should be performed 10 times for at least three times a day.

2. Side leg lifting

Side leg lifts target your hip abductors muscles. These are located around your gluteal region (buttocks).

How to strengthen your muscles with side leg lifting:

  • Begin by lying on your unaffected side on either your bed or the floor
  • Lift your right or left leg upwards, and then
  • Slowly bring this leg down.

You can repeat this exercise eight to ten times for each leg.

3. The bridge

Bridge exercises can strengthen and improve stability in your hips by targeting the muscles in your hips and bottom.

How to perform a bridge:

  • Begin by lying on your back with knees bent;
  • Tighten your buttocks and lift your bottom off the floor;
  • Make sure that you do not arch your back
  • After you have achieved this position, gradually lower your buttocks to the floor.

You can repeat this bridge position 10 times.

Hip mobility exercises

If you are suffering with osteoarthritis, stretches or mobility exercises can improve movement in your body.

1. Hamstring stretch

A hamstring stretch can increase mobility in your hips by targeting the back of your thigh muscles.

How to improve your mobility through a hamstring stretch:

  • Start your stretch by standing upright;
  • Place your foot onto a step;
  • Gradually, lean forwards at your hips, and
  • Until you can feel a stretch under your thigh.

It is important to keep your back straight during a hamstring stretch. This position can be held for 20 to 30 seconds.

You should repeat this exercise at least five times.

2. Quadriceps stretch

A quadriceps stretch promotes mobility by focusing on the muscles at the front of your thigh. These are known as your quadriceps.

How to increase your mobility through a quadriceps stretch:

  • Start by standing and placing your hands on a firm object such as a chair;
  • Slowly lift your ankle to your bottom. You should be able to feel a stretch in your thigh, and
  • Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.

You can repeat this exercise at least five times.

3. Hip flexor stretches

A hip flexor stretch encourages mobility by targeting the muscles at the front of your hip and the back of your thigh.

How to increase your mobility through a flexor stretch:

  • Begin by placing your knee on a stool or chair. Your other leg should be positioned slightly in front of you;
  • Now lean forwards, and
  • Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.

You should ensure your back remains straight during this stretch.

Hip replacement exercises

After your hip replacement surgery, you will be seen by a Physiotherapist, who will provide you a programme of tailored exercises to support your recovery and return to your normal activities.

You will be guided through these exercises by your Physiotherapist and can start doing these as soon as possible. These could include:

1. Hip flexion exercises

Flexion exercises can support your recovery from hip replacement surgery by improving your range of motion and lowering your risk of post-surgery complications.

How to perform a hip flexion exercise:

  • Start by lying on your side;
  • Next, bend your knees and place one hand over your top ankle;
  • Holding your ankle, lift your bent leg towards your bottom;
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and
  • Finish this exercise by bringing your leg back to its original position.

It is recommended that you repeat this exercise 10 times.

2. Hip abduction exercises

Hip abductions can improve your range of motion and strengthen your muscles following joint replacement surgery. 

How to perform a hip abduction exercise:

  • Begin by lying down with your legs stretched out in front of you;
  • Gradually, move your affected leg out to the side;
  • Hold this position for ten seconds before relaxing, and
  • Afterwards, return your leg to its original position.

Repeat this abduction exercise five times for about four times a day.

3. Static quads

Static quads are another exercise that can support your recovery.

How to do a static quad:

  • Start by lying or sitting on your bed with your legs out in front of you;
  • Afterwards push the back of your knee down into your bed to tense your quadriceps (these are the muscles at the front on your thigh), and
  • Hold this position for five seconds before relaxing your muscles.

You should repeat this 10 times.

Hip impingement exercises

1. A standing quad stretch

A standing quad stretch can help you manage pain from a hip impingement. 

How to perform a standing quad stretch:

  • Place one hand on a firm object such as a chair;
  • Next standing upright, use your other hand to pull your foot directly behind your buttocks;
  • Make sure you keep your back straight, and
  • Repeat this exercise three to four times a week.

2. A standing hip abduction

If you are suffering from a hip impingement, another exercise you can practise to ease pain is a standing hip abduction.

How to do a standing hip abduction:

  • Start by standing upright, and then
  • Move your leg out to the side without moving your hips.
  • Repeat this exercise three to four times a week.

Bursitis: hip exercises for pain relief

The following exercises can be performed to manage your symptoms from bursitis: 

1. Iliotibial band stretches (ITB)

Iliotibial (IT) band exercises for bursitis target your gluteal muscles.

How to perform an iliotibial band stretch:

  • Stand with your feet apart with your affected hip next to a firm support such a wall;
  • Cross the leg on your affected side behind the other;
  • Next place one hand on the wall, and
  • Slowly move your affected hip towards the wall.

You should hold this stretch for 15 seconds before returning to a standing position.

2. Piriformis stretches

How to perform a piriformis stretch:

  • Start by lying on your back and bending your knees;
  • Cross either one of your legs over the other;
  • Place your hand under your bottom leg, and
  • Bring your bottom leg forwards towards your chest.

If you have performed this correctly, you should feel a tightness in your right or left buttock.

In this video, Mark, physiotherapy manager at The Chiltern Hospital shares 5 effective exercises that can strengthen your hip and ease pain from hip arthritis without surgery.

How much will your physiotherapy session cost?

The cost of having physiotherapy for hip pain will vary depending on your chosen hospital and the equipment that is used to deliver your treatment. This cost will be confirmed in writing following your consultation with one of our Physiotherapists.

The average cost of a single physiotherapy session at one of our hospitals is £200.

You can use your private medical insurance, or our flexible payment plans to pay for the cost of your physiotherapy sessions. For more information about our payment plans that allow you the spread the cost of your care across up to five years, including interest free options, please visit our payments page. 

Why choose one of our hospitals for your treatment?

In addition to granting you fast and easy access to a consultation with a Physiotherapist when you call a member of our team directly, there are several other benefits to receiving treatment at our hospitals. These include:

If you would like to arrange a consultation with a Physiotherapist, please contact a member of our team by calling us.

Alternatively, to speak to an Orthopaedic Surgeon about a diagnosis for your hip pain, please call us or book your appointment online today.

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How do I book an appointment?

If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on this subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Circle Hospital.