Hip bursitis is an irritating condition that can range from slightly bothersome to very painful. If you feel pain in your hip when you are lying in bed at night, or immediately when you stand up after sitting for a while, you might have hip bursitis.
Let’s explore this condition and look at the best exercises to treat hip bursitis so you can start feeling better soon.
What Is Hip Bursitis?
Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa sac. A bursa sac is a small, gel-like pillow that sits between your bones and their connective tissues, acting as sort of shock absorber. You have bursa sacs in your hips, shoulders, elbows, knees and heels.
The bursa can become injured through a fall or strained by repetitive use. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, two major bursae in the hip can become injured or inflamed. The more common condition of the two, Trochanteric Bursitis, is inflammation to the bursa covering the greater trochanter, which sits at the bony point of the hip bone. The other bursa located on the inside of the hip near the groin is called the iliopsoas bursa. When this area becomes inflamed or injured it is often called “hip bursitis.” Both are treated in a similar way.
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!
What Causes Hip Bursitis?
There are a number of things that can cause hip bursitis, from a direct fall on your hip to running too many miles. Let’s take a look at some of those things that put you at risk.
- Hip Injury: A traumatic injury or fall on the hip can cause hip bursitis.
- Repetitive Motion: You are at risk for hip bursitis if you do too much running, standing, bicycling or stair climbing.
- Leg-Length Inequality: Believe it or not, a surprising number of people have one leg that is slightly shorter than another (1.5 cm or more). This can affect your gait, causing issues similar to the repetitive use problem resulting in bursitis.
- Arthritis: Hip bursitis can come from arthritis. The same inflammation that comes with arthritis can extend into the hip bursa.
- Spine Diseases: Conditions like scoliosis can cause problems with the movement pattern of your hip and play a role in hip bursitis.
- Prior Surgery: Like spine diseases, prior surgeries such as implants or hip replacements can throw off your gait and movement patterns creating inflammation.
Related: How To Treat Hip Pain
Best Exercises For Hip Bursitis
It is always important to see a doctor in order to diagnose any condition and know the details needed to help fix your particular problem. However, specific hip exercises can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip, and stretches can open up tight and painful areas of the hip. Many of these moves require no equipment, while a few of them require a resistance band to do the trick.
Here are nine exercises you can do at home to help treat your hip bursitis:
1. Glute Bridge
Repetitions: 10-12. Hold for 3 seconds at the top, lower slowly.
This move engages your glutes, hamstrings, quads and hip flexors – the muscles that support the hips. In addition, you’ll stretch and open the hips flexors and front of the body overall.
2. Fire Hydrant
Repetitions: 10-12 per side
The fire hydrant might look weird, but it’s an important exercise for tackling the piriformis muscle and strengthening the hip join as a whole. Unweighted, this exercise can be done by anyone and is great for increasing your range of motion.
Equipment: Resistance Band
Repetitions 10-12 per leg
Many of the moves that tackle our glutes can also put excessive stress on the hip flexors. This gives you an opportunity to isolate the glutes alone. (Be sure you don’t pull the knee in too far after pressing back; knee under hip bone is the start and end position.)
Equipment: Resistance Band
Repetitions: 16-20 total: 8-10 per side, alternating.
You abductors (outer thighs) need work in order to balance out the strength of the entire hip area. This move will take care of that and build strength in the core as well.
Repetitions: Hold for 30 seconds each side
Isometric strength moves are extremely important for building strength and stability. The forearm side plank strengthens the outside of the hip and obliques.
Repetitions: Hold for 30 seconds on each side
This stretch opens up outside of your hip, especially the piriformis
Repetitions: Hold 30-60 seconds
Open up your inner thighs with the amazing stretch.
Repetitions: Hold 30-60 seconds
This is a great pose to also add to the end of any workout. It will feel so good and your hips will thank you!
9. Inner Thigh Squeeze
Equipment: small pilates ball, volleyball or rolled up towel
Lying on your back with your feet in the air and knees bent, pull your low abs in so your lower back is gently pressing into the floor. Now squeeze the ball or towel tightly between your knees as you pull your belly in at the same time. This move strengthens the adductors (inner thighs) which are typically weak and adding to dysfunctional hip movement.
Note: If this bothers your hip flexors, it can be done with feet on the floor and knees bent.
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 condition.
In addition, ice the affected area a few times a day to help relieve inflammation and take anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naproxen. In addition, once you return to activity you may need to modify what you were doing. For instance, run on a flat, even surface for a while.
Above all, if you have hip pain that is persistent or unbearable, please see your doctor. Treating hip bursitis with the proper stretches is great, but you should always get a medical opinion if pain of any kind doesn’t go away.