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Your hips are one of the strongest and most stable joints in your body, which is why they tend to take a lot of punishment as you get older. If you’re an older adult who has been diagnosed with hip arthritis, this can be extremely frustrating.
Pain is a funny thing. It’s like a smoke alarm, constantly detecting when something is wrong.
When our bodies “smell smoke” it alerts us through pain signals… telling us where the fire is. However, when it comes to chronic pain signals, putting out the fire isn’t enough.
Acute injuries, such as a labral tear or fracture, are like a grease fire — easily and quickly put out with the right tools. In this case surgery.
However, chronic hip joint pain from overuse is more akin to a forest fire.
If gone untreated for too long, it can take on a life of its own. Now, hip pain differs between individuals (especially between men and women), but the fix is the same.
In fact, using the following movements, you can not only put the flames out before they get too big but restore proper hip function as well!
If you can keep your hips healthy and happy, you can reduce pain, prevent further injury, and decrease your chances of needing surgery.
Table of Contents
The Worst Exercises for Hip Arthritis
First things first, we must understand the common causes of hip pain.
In general, there are a few exercises in particular that can cause pain in our hips, and if so, it may be best to avoid them.
Pain Reducing Exercises for Hip Arthritis
While there are a few movements you should aim to avoid if possible, there are many you can do to help!
With nothing but a towel, you can perform your very own at-home hip pain treatment without surgery.
Follow along below:
1. Towel Squeeze with Pulses
Lay on your back with your knees bent and a rolled towel between them.
Squeeze into the towel and then pulse twice.
With the pulses, squeeze harder than you think you can — “think squeeze, squeeze” before relaxing.
Repeat this exercise 5 times.
This movement works the internal rotators of the hips, strengthening the muscles known as our Adductors.
Oftentimes, chronic injuries occur when there is an imbalance between the muscles that draw our legs in (Adductors) and the muscles that draw our legs out (Abductors).
2. Towel Press with Pulses
Lay on your back with your knees bent. Wrap a towel around the outside of your thighs.
With both legs, press outwards into the towel twice. Use the same technique as the previous exercise, “thinking press, press” before relaxing.
Repeat this exercise 5 times.
This movement works the external rotators of the hips, strengthening the muscles known as our Abductors.
These movements create more balance between the two muscle groups, mitigating the risk of injuries caused by imbalances.
3. Mini Hip Thrusts
Lay on your back with your knees bent (similar to exercise #1 — this time without the towel).
Begin by drawing your belly button towards your spine and flattening your lower back into the bed.
Squeeze your bottom, driving your heels into the ground, allowing your hips to slightly lift up in a “thrusting” motion.
Lower back down, pressing your back into the bed.
Repeat this exercise 10 times.
Our hips move in many directions. Not only do they shift our legs left and right, but forward and backward as well.
Strengthening our gluteal muscles (a.k.a butt muscles) helps strengthen the hips and ensure their proper functioning… in all directions.
4. Standing Side Hip Lifts
Stand tall with one hand placed on a bed or chair. Balance on your left leg, keeping a soft bend in your knee to keep from locking out.
Leading with your heel, lift your right leg out to the side. Be sure not to lean to the left.
Repeat 5 times per leg.
Your hips must also be able to work independently of each other without overcompensating for any weakness.
This movement not only improves your balance, but also the ability to strengthening your hips unilaterally — in both an internal and external rotation.
5. Mini Wall Sit
Place your back against the wall and walk your feet out about 24 inches.
Slide down a few inches into a “mini” squat (about ¼ of a normal squat). Squeeze your bottom twice using the same technique as the first two exercises — “think squeeze, squeeze” before sliding back up.
Repeat this exercise 5 times.
Being able to move in multiple directions all at once is vital for keeping healthy hips.
This movement drives the hips in an external and forward direction (just as exercise #4 moved them internally and outward). The added bottom “pulse” helps to strengthen the glute muscles and others surrounding each hip joint.
Try incorporating these movements into your daily routine to strengthen those hips while introducing new ranges of motions to increase functionality. It may take a few weeks to see any progress, but soon you’ll notice less pain and better mobility!
Came across your site today on FB, makes sense why my hips hurt so much after walking on uneven terrain, which is useful to know
Am 54 and got diagnosed ANA+ possible auto immune disorder which is causing my joints pain (possible RA?) so am looking for stretches too help manage pains etc so will read your posts 👍
Jackie, thank you for reading! Please check out our other blog posts regarding hips. We also have a Feel Good Body program that has a section on hips. Hope these exercises can decrease your hip pain!
Todd, I have had both knees replaced as well as my right hip. My left hip is a 3.5 on a scale of 4 for bone spurs and crepitation and my Ortho doctor keeps pressing me to have it replaced. I have just found your series of exercises and hope I can avoid the painful surgery to replace the left hip since I know live alone after losing my husband last month. Are there any other exercises available to deal with bone spurs?
In general strengthening the muscles around your hips as well as your core and legs will help support your hip. Strong muscles can take pressure off a joint and may help reduce your pain enough to allow you to perform daily activities easier!
Another stellar video from Coach Todd ... so clearly explained and demonstrated.
I’m a 74 female. Having increasing right hip pain for past 10 years. Now sciatica too affecting hip flexor and glute twinges especially making climbing stairs and even sidewalk curb very painful at times. Leg can hurt too when lying down! I love long walks and hiking, but it aggravates the sciatica if walk daily more than 2-3 km. Will try adding these arthritis exercises. Past month or so started Todd’s a.m. 10 joint exercises and p.m. 7 spine alignment exercises. Hope these help.
Jami, I am so sorry to hear about how long you have been experiencing your hip pain. I am glad you're incorporating some new exercises to try and reduce the pain you're feeling. I hope the exercises are helpful to you as well!
Mini hip thrust hurt my lower back.
Hi Sissy! I recommend doing laying glute squeezes instead. You will be in the same starting position as the hip hip thrust but instead of lifting your hips up and off the bed, just focus on squeezing your butt muscles together. Hold for 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat 10 times 🙂 I hope that helps!
I am grateful to you Todd as I am 77 and had hip replacement, then fell and had another hip op and I fractured it and broke my femur bone and injured the knee that had been replaced before. Your exercises have had amazing results so now I can walk with the cane instead of walker. I have been using what you recommended and the improvement has been amazing.
Thank you so much
Love hearing your improvements Maria! Thank you for sharing 🙂 Keep up the great work!