Hip pain under any circumstance is no fun. Hip pain that occurs as a result of trying to take care of yourself is even more annoying.
But, not all hip pain is the same. There are sources of hip pain that may preclude exercise, like deteriorating hip joints and of course fractures. But many, many people can safely walk, run, play golf or tennis or swim and keep hip pain at bay with simple exercises.
There are several muscles that function within the hips. The muscles that we are focusing on here include:
- The gluteus medius, which is the main abductor (which means it is working when you pull your thighs apart) and external rotator of the hip.
- The gluteus maximus extends the hip and assists with abduction and external rotation.
- The tensor fasciae latae (TFL) is an abductor of the hip, and also helps with internal rotation
- The piriformis, which abducts and laterally rotates the femur (the thigh bone)
Consider adding these stretching and calisthenic exercises prior to and after exercising or even on intermediate days if you run or walk on an every other day basis:
Clamshells: Clamshells are not difficult and require no equipment. Lie on your right side with your knees bent in front of you and your legs stacked on top of each other. Bend your right elbow and rest your head on your elbow. Slowly open up the top left leg (like a clamshell) and close that leg again. Repeat this for a total of 10 times. Then turn to the other side, lying on your left side and opening up your right leg. To increase the difficulty, you may wrap an exercise band halfway between your knees and hips to add some resistance. Try to eventually do 30 clamshell repetitions on each side.
Side leg lifts: Lie on your right side with your legs extended in a straight line, with your left leg stacked on top of your right. Bend your right elbow and rest your head on your elbow. Slowly lift up your left leg, keeping the leg straight (do not bend the knee). Count to five and then bring your leg down. Repeat this 15 times. Then turn to the other side, lying on your left side and lifting up your right leg. To increase the difficulty, you may wrap an exercise band halfway between your knees and hips to add some resistance. Try to eventually do 30 side leg lifts on each side by repeating this exercise once more on each side.
One legged Glute lifts; this can also be called the one-legged bridge. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet firmly on the ground. Slowly do 5 pelvic lifts, counting to 4 each time, lifting your lower back off the ground, using your thighs to support the action. Now lift up your left leg into the air and continue to lift your pelvis for 4 seconds with just your right leg. Repeat for a total of 10 times. Bring your left leg down and do the entire activity from the beginning, but lifting your right leg. Try to eventually do a total of 30 glute lifts on each side, by repeating this exercise two more times per side.
Piriformis stretch: Sit up with your legs in front of you and your hands slightly behind you. Bend your left leg and cross it over your right thigh. Hold onto your left knee with your right hand. Now turn your shoulders towards your bent knee. Count for 10 seconds, breathing slowly. Place your left leg down. Now, bring up your right leg and bend it, and cross it over your left thigh. Hold onto your right knee with left hand. Turn your shoulders towards your bent knee, counting for 10 seconds, breathing slowly.