A person squatting with a light blue background.
Bodyweight squats can help improve the strength of your legs, which can better support your hips.

Osteoarthritis Hip Exercises

Commonly referred to as wear-and-tear arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) occurs in any joint. However, it is most common in weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and the knees, which is why we are going to cover osteoarthritis hip exercises, as they might help your symptoms.

Osteoarthritis is extremely common in the hips. Because our hips are always moving, the cartilage that protects the hips can wear down over time. This wearing down of cartilage reduces the protective joint space, eventually causing the ball-and-socket joint to rub against each other, thus causing OA.

There is no cure for OA; once it begins to develop, the best treatment is aimed at symptom reduction and strengthening of the joint. One such way to reduce symptoms and improve joint function is exercise.

Though exercise may be the last thing you want to do, there are a variety of movements that may make you feel better! Below are the top six exercises for osteoarthritis of the hip. These exercises can be performed together. The first two exercises work on hip flexibility, while exercises three through five improve the strength of the hip.

1. Hip and Lower Back Stretch

This exercise promotes mobility and improves stiffness. Begin by lying on your back with your legs outstretched. Pull your chin into your chest while simultaneously drawing your knees towards your belly button, holding your knees with your hands. Hold this position for several breaths, and exhale as you release your legs from your hands.

2. Double Hip Rotation

This exercise promotes mobility and improves stiffness. While lying on your back, place your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be bent. Draw your shoulders into the floor and place your arms in a T position, about 90 degrees from your torso. Drop your knees to the right, while turning your head to gaze over your left shoulder. Hold this for several breaths and repeat it on the opposite side.

3. Hip Extension

This exercise strengthens the muscles of the buttocks. Roll onto your abdomen and place a pillow or blanket underneath your hips. Allow your shoulders and neck to be relaxed, gazing forward. Bend your knee 90 degrees, then lift it off the floor. Hold this for five seconds, then release. Perform eight repetitions, then repeat on the opposite leg.

4. Sit and Stand

This exercise strengthens your legs, core and back muscles. Stand in front of a sturdy chair with your buttocks facing the chair. Press your hips back, allowing your buttocks to come to a seated position. Bending slightly at your hips, push through your feet and legs and come back to a standing position. Perform this three times, gradually working up to eight repetitions.

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5. Bodyweight Squat

This exercise builds on the sit-and-stand exercise, improving the strength of your legs, core and back muscles.

When you have mastered sit and stand, remove the chair. Keep your feet shoulder distance apart. Keeping your chest lifted, shift your weight into your heels, lowering your buttocks towards the floor. Pretend that you are going to sit in a chair. Lower as far as comfortable, then press through your heels to come back to a standing position. Repeat this three times, gradually working up to eight repetitions.

6. Aerobic Exercise

Though many exercises can improve joint pain and functioning, aerobic exercise is essential. Why? Because aerobic exercise improves your body’s function overall!

Aerobic exercise improves your heart by strengthening it; it also helps you breathe better. Not only that, but aerobic exercise torches calories, which assists with weight loss. Weight loss is important because added pounds can put additional stress on your hips.

Examples of aerobic exercise include:

  • Walking.
  • Biking.
  • Swimming.
  • Cross-country skiing.
  • Elliptical training.

The Bottom Line

There is no cure for osteoarthritis. Fortunately, it is possible to improve pain and strengthen the hip through exercise. A proper exercise routine includes flexibility and strength training, as well as aerobic exercise, which improves overall health. Though the exercises above are a good place to start, it is always good to work with your healthcare provider and a physical therapist.