Preserving and strengthening our hips becomes drastically more important as we age.
Falling and breaking a hip is a major fear in the aging population. And rightfully so, as a broken hip often leads to a cascade of events that usually ends in tragedy.
Our hips can be thought of as the connection between our spines and our lower limbs. They are remarkable joints in that they are both extremely mobile and incredibly strong.
But if we don’t do our part to keep them strong, they can become vulnerable to injury and fracture.
Luckily, it doesn’t take much to keep your hips mobile and stable!
In this article, I’ll provide an overview of two of my favorite exercises for increasing strength and flexibility in the hips.
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3 Must-Do Exercises for Good Hip Health
As was mentioned in the introduction: you don’t need to spend a ton of time exercising to reap the benefits. Even just a few minutes each week devoted to working out the hips will go a long way.
Below, I will describe each of these exercises in detail. As always, if you have any specific orthopedic concerns, or aren’t sure how to start going about initiating an exercise program, be sure to consult with an exercise professional such as a physical therapist.
Seated 90/90 Stretch
This stretch is one of the best flexibility exercises I’ve ever seen for the lower body. That being said, it may take you some time to work your way up to this move. The 90/90 stretch requires significant flexibility from both the knees and the hips. But once you get comfortable with the movement, it provides a stretch like no other exercise can!
How to Perform
- Sit on a soft, padded surface.
- Place the inside of your left knee on the ground. At the same time, scoot your right leg forward, keeping the outside of this knee on the ground.
- At this point, both of your knees should be bent to roughly 90 degrees, and your back should be as straight as possible.
- You’ll feel a deep stretch in your left inner thigh and your right buttocks.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat it 4 times on each side.
- I recommend that you perform this stretch once per day, 5 days per week.
Bridges are a staple of most core and yoga classes. This move is great for strengthening the glutes and various other stabilizer muscles of the low back and hips. Plus, it’s very easy for most people to perform bridges comfortably. This exercise truly checks all the boxes!
How to Perform:
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Next, press down into the floor as you contract your glute muscles, pushing your hips toward the ceiling.
- Hold this top position for 10 seconds, then return to the ground.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps, 3 days per week.
The fire hydrant is a hip exercise that activates your outer glutes, core, and outer thighs. This is a great move to tone up and strengthen your glutes and hips.
To maintain balance and stability, this move also recruits your abs and entire core, making it an excellent choice for the core. The fly movements of your legs also add to your flexibility, range of motion, and mobility. If you are an aging adult, this is a great exercise to add to your hip workouts.
How to Perform:
- Get on your fours keeping your hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
- Engage your core and raise the right leg up to the side until it levels with your hip while maintaining the knee bent.
- Slowly bring the leg back to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps and switch legs.
The Bottom Line
The hips are vitally important joints in the human body. Without strong hips, we’re at risk for numerous problems, including a significant loss of independence.
Therefore, no matter how healthy you are, and how strong you may be, it never hurts to add a few hip stretching and strengthening exercises to your routine!
- Lu, Y., & Uppal, H. S. (2019). Hip Fractures: Relevant Anatomy, Classification, and Biomechanics of Fracture and Fixation. Geriatric orthopedic surgery & rehabilitation, 10, 2151459319859139. https://doi.org/10.1177/2151459319859139
- Do, K., & Yim, J. (2020). Effects of Muscle Strengthening around the Hip on Pain, Physical Function, and Gait in Elderly Patients with Total Knee Arthroplasty: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 8(4), 489. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare8040489
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