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All our joints are hugely important to our mobility and functioning, of course. But the hips are among the most used joints in the human body—almost every move we make, from standing to sitting, walking, climbing stairs and jumping, involves the hips. And they bear the weight of the body.

The hip joint also joins the upper and the lower halves of the body via the pelvis and the femur and anchors the spine along with the multitude of muscles around it. It is unique in the way that it is both flexible as well as provides the body with the strength and force that is needed to propel itself in any direction.

Like the other joints, the hip joint is also susceptible to injuries and pain as well as chronic problems as you age, especially conditions like arthritis and bursitis, which can make the most fundamental movements difficult. Besides chronic conditions, injuries, muscle strains and fractured hip can also result in prolonged pain in the hips affecting your daily movements.

Read more: Fractured hip symptoms, causes, treatment, medicines

In a 2015 study on the prevalence of pain among rural adults in Tamil Nadu, researchers found that hip pain was one of the most common musculoskeletal pains among an older age group with about 1.6% prevalence in the population. The findings of the study were published in the Indian Journal of Pain.

Niggling pain in the hip can be disconcerting and a major source of restricting one's daily activities due to the limited range of movement. In this article, we discuss some exercises that can not only reduce pain but also strengthen the muscles to allow you to move around freely.

  1. Types of hip exercises
  2. Takeaways

Hip exercises can range from stretching to strengthening and stabilising movements. The exercises can help in restoring the full range of movement in the hip joint, allowing you to perform your daily tasks.

However, one should practise these exercises based on their comfort level and avoid any of the movements if they aggravate the pain. Some amount of pain is natural, but if it lasts for a long time, one should visit a doctor and get it checked.

You can perform one or two exercises in a day over three to four days a week, and ideally perform them at a time of day when your hip pain is at its lowest, preferably after a warm bath that tends to relax the muscles even more.

Seated butterfly stretch or external hip rotations for hip pain

To do this exercise:

  • Sit down on the floor with your knees bent and back straight
  • Drop your knees outwards and join the soles of your feet in front of your body
  • Place your hands on each knee, and gently press your knees down towards the floor
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then release, slowing lifting both the knees off the ground
  • Repeat the stretch about five times, and increase the frequency as you become more comfortable with the movement

Lying hip extensions for stronger hips

Lying hip extensions are a great way to strengthen the muscles in the glutes as well as the hamstrings. To do this exercise:

  • Lie down on your stomach with your arms beside your body
  • Keep the knees straight
  • Slowly lift your right leg a few inches off the floor while keeping the knee straight
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and slowly lower it back to the floor
  • Repeat the same movement with the left leg
  • Perform about five repetitions with each leg

Lying lateral leg raises to strengthen hips

Another simple and effective stretching exercise that also strengthens the hip muscles is lying lateral leg raises. To do this exercise:

  • Lie down on your right side with your left leg on top of the right leg and knees straight
  • Rest your head on the bottom hand anchored on the elbow
  • Lift your left leg up as far as you can without bending the knee. Breathe in as you do this
  • Breathe out and slowly bring the leg down to the resting position
  • Repeat about 10 times and switch to the other side

Clam exercise for hip pain relief

The clam exercise is another way to make the muscles on the outside of the hips stronger. It also works on the glutes. To do this:

  • Like the side-lying leg raises, lie down on your right side with the left leg resting on top of the right. Bend your knees.
  • Instead of holding your head up on your raised hand, rest your head on the bent elbow
  • Without lifting your foot, lift the knee up in the same folded position while breathing out
  • Return to the resting position by slowly lowering the knee
  • Repeat this movement 10-12 times, and switch to the other side

Bridge exercise for hips

The bridge exercise is a great way to mobilise and strengthen the muscles in the lower back, hamstrings, hip flexors and front thighs. To do this:

  • Lie down on your back with your knees bent
  • Anchor your arms straight and on your sides
  • Push the floor with your feet and slowly lift your hips and upper body up, to form a diagonal line from the head to the knees
  • Hold the position for a couple of seconds, then slowly lower your body back down to the original position
  • Repeat 10-15 times

Lying leg circles for hip pain relief

Anchoring your upper body on the ground and making imaginary circles on the ceiling with your feet is also known to strengthen the muscles in the hips, besides giving them flexibility. To do this:

  • Lie down on your back with your legs outstretched
  • Lift one leg straight up with the toes pointed upwards
  • Move the raised leg slowly in clockwise circles. Repeat the motion counter-clockwise for the same number of repetitions
  • Keep the core engaged and press down on the ground with your lower back
  • Lower the leg slowly back down to the floor and repeat with the other leg
  • Do at least five repetitions both clockwise and counter-clockwise with each leg

Step-up exercise for stronger hips

Step-ups are a great way to mobilise and strengthen the muscles in the hips as well as the legs. If you don't have a stepper at home, you can easily do this exercise on the steps of a staircase too. To do this:

  • Stand next to a box, stepper or the step of a staircase
  • Raise your right foot and place it on the step with your hands on your hips
  • Climb up on the raised platform, but don't place the bottom foot on the step
  • Hold the position for a second or two, and then return to the standing position on the ground
  • Repeat with the left leg as well, and perform at least 10 repetitions on each leg

Hip abduction for stronger hips

Another exercise that is quite simple yet helps in stabilising and strengthening the muscles in the hips, hip abductions can also be performed anywhere. To do this:

  • Stand straight without any support, or next to a chair for support from one side
  • Keep the feet together, lift the right leg straight up towards the right side without bending the knee on either leg
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly lower the leg back to the starting position
  • Repeat this exercise about 10 times on one side, then switch over to the other leg

Hip exercises are necessary to keep the movements in your hips in their full range, especially with the stress of work and a busy lifestyle that may require you to be seated for prolonged periods of time. These exercises are also good for those with chronic conditions or even anyone who has had an injury or difficulty in the hip region.

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