9 Best Exercises For Hip Bursitis (Video Included)

Fitness, Pain + Recovery, Training Advice

By: // March 15, 2022

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.

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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 a 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!

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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 and SI Joint Pain Exercises

Best Hip Bursitis Exercises

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 uptight 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

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

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 is too far after pressing back; the knee under the hips is the start and end position.)

4. Resistance Band Outer Thigh Press

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

Equipment: None

Repetitions: Hold for 30 seconds on 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

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

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

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 add to the 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 an 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 the 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 December 22, 2022 at 12:44 AM Reply

I've had hip bursitis for nearly 15 years, and the left one is very painful at night no matter what exercises I perform. I occasionally get relief from lavender oil. Had cortisone injections, but they were unsuccessful. I've started seeing an osteopath in the hopes that he can assist me. Please offer any further recommendations. I work a sedentary job where I spend most of my time sitting down.

    on December 27, 2022 at 1:02 PM Reply

    Wow - sounds like you have tried a lot of different remedies for your hip bursitis. Does your hip feel better the more movement you get in the body or does that hurt it? Curious if more "low impact" movement helps or makes things worse.

on December 3, 2022 at 11:49 PM Reply

I have been suffering from hip pain for as long as I can remember. I did have a complete spinal fusion with Herrington rods inserted due to Scheuermann’s Disease at 15 yrs old. I did not experience any pain until I had my third child. After that, the pain symptoms started in different areas and pain gradually became worse. I do not know if it has been a contributing factor to the bursitis and all of the arthritis that has set up in different joints in my body. I found one simple solution that has AT THE LEAST given me opportunity to actually sleep and it’sa small curved knee pillow, or ( foam ). I saw it on TV and they sell them at different places but I found mine at Dollar General for about $10-$15. It’s been the thing I’ve ever bought from this store! I urge you to try it. It is small and it is grooved to fit right between your knees without it feeling s awkward when you sleep. I hope you can find some relief however you do !

on November 30, 2022 at 2:46 AM Reply

Is there any equipment I can use for hip bursitis as I hate doing ordinary exercise. I know this sounds stupid but I would sooner use something.

    on February 14, 2023 at 2:27 PM Reply

    Unfortunately I am not sure of any equipment that is going to help you strength your hips with hip bursitis. There is definitely equipment that will protect your hip, a heating pad, and also foam rollers that are pieces that you can use to help with exercises. But you are going to have to do the stretching and training on your own for this one. I will do some more research, but most exercises you can do for hip bursitis include your own body and exercises to do on your own.

on August 16, 2022 at 9:30 PM Reply

Get rid of dairy and sugar, solved my hip problems.

on August 11, 2022 at 10:17 AM Reply

Any suggestions to help with my Bursitis. I am 58 years old and active but it is flaring up again and no matter what I do I can not get the pain to go away. I was just into my Ortho Doctor for Injections into my Knee Left which is same hip that I have Bursitis in, she has order physical therapy for my with deep tissue massage as well to see if that will help. I do take anti inflammatory meds already for my knee as I do have severe arthritis, I need Knee Replacement but not ready to do it yet. Thus the injections 1 to 2 times a year. Other than that I stay active and keep moving and can do my activities with no issues

on July 9, 2022 at 5:45 AM Reply

Thank you very much for your good recommendations on doing exercises for good health of the hip joint, not everyone will be able to perform such an exercise with very severe pain, but for those who can perform such an exercise, it's just super cool. Thank you very much!!!

on June 5, 2022 at 7:44 AM Reply

This was so helpful. I am a walker and make sure I get 10,000 steps a day. I have had bursitis in the past and it’s back with a vengeance. The pain is in the outside of the left hip and radiates down my leg to the outside if the knee. I’m also a writer and spend lots of time sitting. My downfall is an imbalance of movement- not enough stretching and strengthening. What is the most well rounded routine. Walking is meditation and medication to me. Hate to withdraw. Love yoga and tai chi but not doing that now.

    on June 7, 2022 at 11:06 AM Reply

    Way to get 10,000 steps in your day. My question would be are you strength training and are you stretching your body as well? I would suggest trying a strength routine to make sure your bones are strong as well. Try this routine here for stretches for hip bursitis!

on January 31, 2022 at 6:34 PM Reply

Hi- I’m 37 and dealing with hip bursitis in my right hip. I find restorative Pilates reformer classes to be quite helpful. A lot of the stretches you recommend are in these classes and then some. It’s a slow progression of strength and to only what my body can manage. I only have a flare-up if I do the activities I’m not suppose to, (running, long bike rides, etc.) The last time I flared it up, I was lifting our 86 lb dog up in an emergency and jerked my hip. Well, back to basic care. But the Pilates helps… and I find turmeric (with black pepper) does as well. Thanks for the article. My chiropractor diagnosed my hip bursitis.

on January 6, 2022 at 6:48 AM Reply

I had a lot of trouble with this too but I found the thing that helped me the most was wading in water up to my knees a couple of times a week for about 15 mins. Did this for about 3 months and pretty good now.

on December 29, 2021 at 8:56 AM Reply

I was suffering from a bit of bursitis in my hips, i.e. very stiff and painful in the morning, but after I increased my intake of potassium- rich foods such as bananas, avocados and white beans, it has subsided completely. If I skip those foods for a few days, it comes back, hence I feel certain that it is the cure.

(This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
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