Hip Strengthening Exercises

Multi-ethnic women practicing yoga
Exercises can be your main tool in keeping your hips healthy. Tetra Images/Getty Images

The hip joint is known as a large "ball and socket" joint because the round head of the thigh bone fits into the cup of the pelvis bone. The hip is held in place by strong ligaments as well as muscles, like the gluteus medius, that surround the joint.

The hip is a common site of osteoarthritis. To help protect the hip joint from "wear and tear," it is important to strengthen the muscles that support it.

Your hip also controls the position of your knee, and strengthening your hips may be one component of your rehab program for knee pain. Your physical therapist may also prescribe hip exercises after total hip replacement, if you have a hip labrum tear, or as part of your hip exercise program for hip pain.

Hip strengthening exercises can be done as part of a home exercise program. The exercises should be simple to do and should not cause pain. Check in with your doctor before or PT before starting these - or any other - exercise program for your hips.

Review these quick and easy exercises that will target and strengthen the muscles of the hip.

Leg Lift:

  • Lie on your right side.
  • Bend your right leg, and rest your left foot on the ground.
  • Slowly lift your top leg 2 feet off the ground.
  • Hold for five seconds, then slowly lower the leg.
  • Repeat 5 times, then change legs.

Isometric Gluteus Medius Exercise

  • Lie on one side.
  • Place a belt around both ankles.
  • Lift your top leg up, pressing against the belt while keeping your knee straight.
  • Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Hip Flexion:

  • Stand up straight.
  • Lift your right leg off the floor; bend it so that you create a 90-degree angle at the hip.
  • Hold for five seconds, then slowly lower the leg.
  • Repeat 5 times, then change legs.

Wall Slide:

  • Stand upright with your back against a wall and feet shoulder width apart.
  • Slowly bend your knees, sliding your back down the wall for a count of 5 until your knees are bent at a 45-degree angle (do not bend too much further than this as it will cause increased strain on your knees).
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Begin straightening your knees for a count of five, sliding up the wall until you are fully upright with knees straight.
  • Repeat 5 times.

The leg lift and standing hip flexion exercises can be advanced by placing an ankle weight on the legs. Start light and build up gradually over time. Your PT can help you devise the best strategy for this. Once the exercise become easy, you can move on to more advanced hip strengthening exercises. Discontinue if any significant discomfort is experienced, and remember to discuss starting any new exercise program with your physician first.

The exercises can be done 3 to 5 times per week; be sure to build in a rest day here or there to allow your hip muscles to recover.

Working to strengthen your knees and ankles can be done as well to be sure you completely work all muscles groups of your lower extremities. Remember, your ankle and knee muscles help control the position of your hips, just as your hip muscles control the position of your knees and ankles. They all work together in a kinetic chain.

Working to keep your hips strong can help you maintain balance, keep you walking normally, and help maintain pain-free hips. Check in with your PT, and then get started on hip strengthening exercises.

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