9 Best Exercises For Hip Bursitis (Video Included)

Fitness, Pain + Recovery, Training Advice

By: // June 14, 2021

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.

Let’s explore this physical 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 fluid filled bursa sac which causes hip pain. 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 repeat use. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, two major bursae in the hip can become injured or inflamed. The more common 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.

diagram of hip bursitis

Anatomy of Trochanteric 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!

What Causes Hip Bursitis? 

There are a number of things that can cause bursitis of the hips, from a direct fall to running too many miles. Let’s take a look at some of those things that put you at risk.

  1. Injury: A traumatic injury or fall can cause hip bursitis.
  2. Repetitive Motion: Repetitive motion like cycling, running, climbing or lots of squats, could cause hip bursitis to flare up. Be very cautious when doing any activity that causes increased load on your joints and is high in repetition.
  3. 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.
  4. Arthritis: Bursitis can come from arthritis. The same inflammation that comes with arthritis can extend into the bursa.
  5. Spine Diseases: Conditions like scoliosis can cause problems with the movement pattern of your hips and play a role in bursitis.
  6. 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 fix the origins of your pain. However, specific hip strengthening exercises can help fortify the muscles surrounding the waist and pelvis, and stretches can open up tight and painful areas of the pelvis like the iliotibial band. A daily stretching practice that you can easily repeat will protect the health of your hips and entire body. 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 treat your bursitis and work your whole body:

1. Glute Bridge

Glute bridge demonstration for hip bursitis

Equipment: None

Reps: 10-12. Hold for 3 seconds at the top, lower slowly to flat on the floor.

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.

2. Fire Hydrant

demonstration of a fire hydrant exercise for hip bursitis

Equipment: None

Reps: 10-12 per side

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.

3. Resistance Band Butt Blaster

Demonstration photo of a resistance band glute exercise for hip bursitis

Equipment: Resistance Band

Repetitions 10-12 per leg

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; knee under the hips is the start and end position.)

4. Resistance Band Outer Thigh Press

Demonstration of resistance band outer leg stretch for hip bursitis

Equipment: Resistance Band

Repetitions: 16-20 total: 8-10 per side, alternating.

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.

5. Forearm Side Plank

Photo demonstrating a forearm side plank

Equipment: None

Repetitions: Hold for 30 seconds each side

Isometric strength moves are extremely important for building strength and stability. The forearm side plank exercise strengthens the outer side of the obliques.

6. Sleeping Pigeon Pose

Photo demonstrating a sleeping pigeon pose for hip bursitis stretching

Equipment: None

Repetitions: Hold for 30 seconds on each side

This stretch opens up the piriformis. This can also be a great iliotibial band stretch and activation for each side.

7. Seated Straddle Splits

photo demonstration of seated straddle splits

Equipment: None

Repetitions: Hold for 30 seconds to 60 seconds

Open up your inner thighs and activate your hip and leg muscles with the amazing stretch position.

8. Yogi Squat Pose

photo demonstration of yogi squat pose

Equipment: None

Repetitions: Hold 30-60 seconds

This is a great position to also add to the end of any workout. This is another IT band stretch and hip activating movement.

9. Inner Thigh Squeeze

demonstration of inner thigh squeeze exercise with small medicine ball

Equipment: small pilates ball, volleyball or rolled up towel

Repetitions: 20

Lie 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 pelvic movement.

Note: If this bothers your flexors, it can be done with feet flat on the floor and knees bent.

Is Walking Good for Hip Bursitis?

If you are suffering from hip bursitis, definitely avoid high-impact activities like running and jumping. Walking is a better choice because it’s low impact and easier on the joints. But it is repetitive. Therefore, to make sure you don’t make your pain worse, we recommend you connect with a doctor or physical therapist that can assess your situation. A medical professional can develop the best treatment approach so you can avoid further damage.

Any Other Exercises To Avoid For Hip Bursitis?

Always speak with your medical professional about your hip bursitis.

Cycling, deep squats, and any cardio exercise machines could cause hip bursitis to flare up. Be very cautious when doing any activity that causes increased load on your joints.

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. 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.

Hip Pain Is Not Inevitable

True wellness is having little to no pain, so you can enjoy activities and feel free to stretch and move your body every day. Treating bursitis with the proper stretches is great, but you should always get a medical opinion if pain of any kind doesn’t go away.

Above all, if you have hip pain that is persistent or unbearable, please see your doctor or get a physical therapist involved. A physical therapist will specialize in creating strengthening exercises and a treatment approach that will relieve your specific hip pain.

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Exercises To Relieve Tight Hips

Printed from GetHealthyU.com


on October 4, 2021 at 4:52 AM Reply

Hi my name is Joni, I have bursitis but cannot do these exercises because I am wheelchair bound. Is there anything that you can advise as I am in dreadful pain, and the injections don’t help.

    on October 14, 2021 at 1:52 PM Reply

    Hi Joni - I am so sorry to hear about this :( As far as doing workouts or exercises in a chair, are you able to try any chair exercises to keep your body moving while seated in a chair? I have an online streaming service of workouts where we do them seated in a chair (which you can also do seated in a wheelchair) if your body is able. If this is something you are interested in visit www.gethealthyutv.com and visit our Chair Program under the Premium membership. However, if this is not what you are looking for, have you considered icing the area that is painful? Considering consulting your doctor to see if there are any other forms of medicine that you can use to decrease the pain. You may also want to look into eating anti-inflammatory foods (https://gethealthyu.com/lb-thank-you/your-guide-to-anti-inflammatory-foods/) to help decrease some of this pain you are experiencing as well.

on August 19, 2021 at 5:47 AM Reply

Ive been having hip bursitis for over 15 years awful at night time left one hurts all night no matter what stretches I do. I use lavender oil it helps sometimes. Had cortisone shots but they didn't work. Started seeing a osteopath so hopefully he can help me. Any other suggestions please. I am in a sedentary job sitting down most of the time.

on June 13, 2021 at 8:07 PM Reply

What type of sports or change of physical routines is recommended ? I had the shots , therapy and none has worked , 73 diabetic I need to exercise , I have done it all my life

    on July 8, 2021 at 9:22 PM Reply

    Hi there - Great question. This would be something that changes based on each individual, what your current physical activity regimen is, and how severe your symptoms are. You will want to talk to your doctor for your own personal sports or change of physical routines. I hope this helps and you can get the answers you are looking for.

on June 7, 2021 at 3:00 PM Reply

Trying understand your suggestions. First, you recommended to do yogi squat that is actually the deepest squat in yoga and than, in the end of article, you recommended to avoid deep squats in your exercise. I am a yoga teacher and as far as I know that Malasana or Yogi squat puts a lot of stress on the hip joints. So with hip bursitis I would never recommend to do this squat to my student.

    on June 10, 2021 at 4:20 PM Reply

    I agree that is confusing. I am suggesting holding the yogi squat …but understand that the yogi squat and even pigeon pose may be too much for some people. What I meant about the deep squats was in a sentence with cycling, cardio machines… I meant high constant repetition of those movements … I will fix that !!

on May 31, 2021 at 9:29 AM Reply

As I read I am happy to have a chance to get rid of bursitis. So far I did therapy didn’t help, cortisol injections did not help. I do yoga 5 times a week, but I will corporate some of these again. I need some miracle! Thank you for posting these exercises! Much love! Szilvia.

on April 15, 2021 at 7:45 PM Reply

I had a root block done on my lower spine and it caused the inflammation to disappear in my hip I had suffered with outer hip pain where even going up the stairs was painful and sleeping on my side was impossible I had two cortisone shots of which neither helped .

on April 1, 2021 at 4:46 PM Reply

While these exercises look great for a younger person, what would be suggested for a person in their early '70s who has a hard time getting up and down from the floor? Many of the exercises I was prescribed to do means laying down on the floor. What is my alternative? It was suggested that I do the exercises on my bed, but I don't feel I get the same benefit as exercising on the floor.

    on April 6, 2021 at 12:23 PM Reply

    A few things I would suggest: I would like to refer you to our article about core exercises for seniors.https://gethealthyu.com/best-core-exercises-for-seniors/ We also have chair workouts on our subscription site that will keep you off the floor. https://www.gethealthyutv.com/video/chair-program-chair-cardio-017675/

on March 26, 2021 at 12:34 AM Reply

My orthopedic surgeon diagnosed my trochanteric bursitis. He gave me a cortisone shot and a bunch of exercises. Both shot and ex work, but I plan on doing the exercises forever.

on February 18, 2021 at 9:33 PM Reply

I got assessed today for my hip. Turns out I have severe bursitis. I’m only 18... my nurse practitioner said it was the worst case she’s ever seen in her entire career! I’m definitely gonna give these exercises a go and I’ll update y’all if I see progress or not. :)

on February 15, 2021 at 6:00 PM Reply

If you have hip pain; SART TODAY with these exercises. I suffered with hip pain for 20 years, trying everything from acupuncture to pain medication that damaged my liver. I started Pilates six years ago where we do all of the above exercises. After 1 week of classes, my pain was gone and has never returned. I am 70 years old and I don’t hurt anywhere. Not my hips, not my knees, not my feet, not my neck or shoulders!

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