Does hip pain have you down?
Hip bursitis is an irritating condition that can range from slightly bothersome to very painful. If you feel hip pain when you are lying in bed at night, or immediately when you stand up after sitting for a while, you might have hip bursitis.
First, let’s look at what hip bursitis is, then explore the best exercises for relief!
What Is Hip Bursitis?
Bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid-filled bursa sac — a small, gel-like pillow that sits between your bones and their connective tissues, acting as a sort of shock absorber. You have bursa sacs in your hips, shoulders, elbows, knees, and heels. When inflammation of the bursa sac in your hips occurs, it can cause hip pain.
The bursa can become injured through a fall or strained by repeat use. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, two major bursae in the hip can become injured or inflamed. The iliopsoas bursa is one of them, and when this area becomes inflamed or injured, it is often called “hip bursitis.”
The symptoms of hip bursitis vary from person to person, but the most common are:
- Hip pain that is sharp at first and then becomes aching over time.
- Hip tenderness, which seems more generalized in the entire hip area.
- Pain that gets worse after prolonged or repetitive activity.
- Leg pain that extends from the hip down the side or back of the leg.
- Pain or discomfort when climbing stairs, running, or cycling.
Important note: if you have warmth and redness in the area along with fever or illness, you could have septic bursitis, which comes from infection. Be sure to see your doctor!
It is always important to see a doctor in order to diagnose any condition and know the details needed to fix the origins of your pain. However, specific hip strengthening exercises and stretches can help fortify the muscles surrounding the waist and pelvis and open up tight and painful areas.
The following are 9 of the best exercises for hip bursitis to help get you some much-needed relief!
1. Glute Bridge
This exercise engages your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and pelvis. In addition, you’ll feel a stretch and open the hips flexors and front of the body overall.
Reps: 10-12. Hold for 3 seconds at the top, lower slowly to flat on the floor.
How to do a glute bridge:
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Engage your abdominals, push your feet into the floor, and squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips.
- Your knees, hips, and shoulders should be aligned in the top position.
- Lower your hips to the floor with control.
2. Fire Hydrant
The fire hydrant might look weird, but it’s an important exercise for tackling the piriformis muscle and strengthening the pelvic joint as a whole. Unweighted, this exercise can be done by anyone and is great for increasing your range of motion.
Reps: 10-12 per side
How to do a fire hydrant:
- Get on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Engage the outer thigh muscles and glutes to lift your left knee to the side. (Much like a dog next to a fire hydrant!) Keep your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your torso facing the floor.
- Slowly lower your left knee and repeat.
3. Resistance Band Butt Blaster
Many of the moves that tackle our glutes can also put excessive stress on our hips. This gives you an opportunity to isolate the glutes alone. (Be sure you don’t pull the knee in too far after pressing back; the knee under the hips is the start and end position.)
Equipment: Resistance Band
Repetitions 10-12 per leg
How to do resistance band butt blasters:
- Kneel on the floor and wrap the band under your right foot. Place your hands down under your shoulders, holding the handles against the floor.
- Lift your right knee off the floor slightly and push your right foot back to extend your leg straight against the band, squeezing your glute.
- Release slowly, bringing the knee back into a bent position. Continue for 10-12 reps and switch feet.
4. Resistance Band Outer Thigh Press
Your abductors (outer thighs) need work in order to balance out the strength of the entire pelvic area. This exercise will take care of that and build strength in the leg and core muscles as well.
Equipment: Resistance Band
Repetitions: 16-20 total: 8-10 per side, alternating.
How to do a resistance band outer thigh press:
- Lay on your back with your legs straight in the air above your hips.
- Place the center of the band around the bottom of your feet and hold the handles together at your chest.
- Press the feet wide open until your legs are in a straddle position and the band is tight. Release slowly.
5. Forearm Side Plank
Isometric strength moves are extremely important for building strength and stability. The forearm side plank exercise strengthens the outer side of the obliques.
Repetitions: Hold for 30 seconds on each side
How to do a forearm side plank:
- Being lying on the floor with your forearm on the mat with your shoulder stacked over the elbow. Legs are long, with feet stacked on top of each other.
- Lift your body into a side plank position, keeping your lower knee on the floor and your abdominals engaged. Try not to let your hips rise or drop.
6. Sleeping Pigeon Pose
This stretch opens up the piriformis. This can also be a great iliotibial band stretch and activation for each side.
Repetitions: Hold for 30 seconds on each side
How to do a sleeping pigeon pose:
- Begin in a plank position. Tighten your abdominals and pull your right knee toward your right hand, placing your right foot as close to your left hand as possible.
- Keep your back leg long and your hips even as you relax your weight through the middle of your hips.
- Slowly begin to lower your chest over your front shin, relaxing your forehead on the mat, with your arms stretched overhead.
- Breathe and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly lift your chest up, step back into a plank, and switch sides.
7. Seated Straddle Splits
Open up your inner thighs and activate your hip and leg muscles with the amazing stretch position.
Repetitions: Hold for 30 seconds to 60 seconds
How to do a seated straddle splits pose:
- Begin in a seated position with legs stretched out open to the sides as far as you can, with your toes pointed up.
- Place your hands on the floor in front of you and slowly walk them forward until your forearms are resting on the floor.
- Keep your chest lifted and your spine long as you breathe and hold for 30-60 seconds.
8. Yogi Squat Pose
This is a great position to also add to the end of any workout. This is another IT band stretch and hip activating movement.
Repetitions: Hold 30-60 seconds
How to do a yogi squat pose:
- Begin on your feet, crouched down with your tailbone between your ankles and hands in prayer at your chest.
- Continue to press hands firmly together while at the same time pressing your elbows against your inner thighs.
9. Inner Thigh Squeeze
This move strengthens the adductors (inner thighs) which are typically weak and add to dysfunctional pelvic movement.
Note: If this bothers your flexors, it can be done with feet flat on the floor and knees bent.
Equipment: small pilates ball, volleyball, or rolled-up towel
How to do an inner thigh squeeze:
- Lie on your back with your feet in the air and knees bent, and pull your lower abs in so your lower back gently presses into the floor.
- Squeeze the pilates ball or towel tightly between your knees as you pull your belly in at the same time.
Final Step: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate (RICE)
You’ve probably been told to do this for an ankle sprain or a bruise on your shin. Bursitis is the same, although compression may not be possible, and elevating might also be difficult. It is very important to rest the injured area until you don’t have pain.
In other words, if running too many miles is the cause of your issue, continuing to run will only aggravate your muscles. To avoid more problems, the best treatment is rest, ice, compress, elevate, and repeat.
In addition, ice the affected area a few times a day to help relieve inflammation and take anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naproxen.
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