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Exercises for Healthy Hips


Updated April 09, 2014

Exercises for Healthy Hips

Side Leg Raise

Brett Sears, PT

The hip is a major weight-bearing joint in the body and is responsible for many functional activities, such as walking and running, sitting and standing, and climbing stairs. By keeping your hips strong and mobile, hip pain can quickly be eliminated and you can quickly return to normal activity.

Here are some basic exercises to help keep your hips strong and mobile. Remember to check with your doctor, physical therapist, or health care provider to ensure that you are healthy enough to exercise.

Straight Leg Raise: While lying on your back, keep one leg straight and one knee bent. Then lift the straight leg up about 12 inches. Hold it there for 2 seconds, then slowly lower the leg. Remember to keep your leg as straight as possible. Repeat this 10 times.

Hip Squeeze: While lying on your back, keep both knees bent. Place a small ball, pillow, or towel roll between the knees and squeeze. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times.

Side Leg Raise: Lie down on one side. The leg closer to the floor should be bent, and the top leg should be straight. Slowly lift your top leg up, making sure to keep your knee straight and your toes pointing forward. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly lower. Repeat 10 times.

Hip Rotation Stretch: Lie on your back with both knees bent. Cross one leg over the other by placing your ankle on top of your knee (as if crossing your legs while sitting). Gently push the knee of the top leg away from you until a stretch is felt in the buttocks. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then slowly release. Repeat 10 times.

These exercises should be performed once per day to maintain strength and flexibility of the hips. When the exercises start to feel easy, you can perform two to three sets of each exercise to challenge the hip muscles and to further improve the strength and mobility of the hips. You may also wish to try more advanced hip strengthening exercises.

If you have significant hip pain that limits your ability to walk or move around, you must contact your doctor or physical therapist before exercising.

By keeping your hips strong and flexible, you may be able to prevent hip pain and problems from occurring. If you have hip pain, gentle exercise might be the key to help you decrease pain and return to normal activity.

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