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Exercises for Hip Bursitis

written by: AngelicaMD • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 2/9/2011

The hip is susceptible to pain from arthritis and traumatic injury, and this can result in weakening of the muscles. One of the possible causes of hip pain is bursitis. Learn the different exercises for hip bursitis that can improve strength and mobility of the hips and thighs.

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    What is Hip Bursitis?

    The hip is formed by joining the pelvis and the long thigh bone called the femur, which is then surrounded by the thick strong muscles of the buttocks and the thighs. Between the attachments of the muscles to the upper portion of the femur there are three pockets or spaces called bursae, which provide lubrication and cushion to prevent friction during movement of the muscles.

    During repetitive movements such as running and walking these bursae may become inflamed and pain follows. Traumatic injury such as a direct blow or a fall can also affect the hip bursae and these result in hip bursitis.

    Hip pain from bursitis responds well to conventional medical and physical therapy. Exercises are beneficial in the treatment and rehabilitation of the hip because they increase mobility of the joint and strengthen the muscles involved in hip and thigh movement.

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    Stretching Exercises for Hip Bursitis

    Stretching exercises help relax tight muscles around the hip and thigh. These should be done daily, about 5 times a day for maximum effect. Stretches should be performed and retained for several seconds every time then repeated as recommended.

    For the Outer Hip Muscles:

    The iliotibial band or the outer hip muscles can be stretched gently by doing the following:

    • Stand sideways beside a wall and balance yourself by using the hand against the wall. Cross the leg to be stretched behind the other leg, keeping the knees straight. Lean toward the uninvolved (normal) side until you feel the leg muscle stretch. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
    • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front. Bend the knee of the involved leg and cross that leg over the opposite leg, placing your foot flat on the floor. Rotate your body to look over the shoulder on the involved side. You will feel a stretch along the side of your hip and leg. Hold the position for 10-15 seconds and repeat 6-8 times.

    For the Thigh Muscles:

    • Hamstrings or thigh muscles can be stretched by standing with the leg to be stretched just in front of the other. Bend the back knee and rest your weight on this knee. Then tilt the hips forward to raise the buttocks up. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds and repeat twice.

    For the Hip Flexors:

    • Start by kneeling with one knee on the floor and the other foot in front with the knee bent. Push your hips forward and keep the back upright. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds and repeat twice.

    For the Buttock Muscles:

    • The buttocks or gluteal muscles may be stretched by lying on your stomach and bending one leg up under your stomach so the outside of the lower leg is on or near the floor. Increase the stretch by leaning forward to further rotate and flex the hip. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat twice.
    • Another way to stretch the gluteal muscles is by lying on your back. Using the hands, take your knee towards your opposite shoulder until you feel a stretch in the buttocks or front of your hip. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times.
    • To stretch in a sitting position on the floor, place both legs in front of you. Place your foot of the leg to be stretched on the other side of your straight leg as demonstrated. Keep your back straight, and then pull the leg to be stretched towards your chest, until you feel a stretch in the buttocks. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times.
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    Strengthening Exercises for the Hips

    • Gluteal strengthening can be done by lying on your back in the position and slowly lifting your buttock pushing through your feet, until your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line. Tighten your gluteal muscles as you do this and hold for 2 seconds then slowly lower your bottom back down. Repeat 10 times.
    • Another way is to lie on your stomach and keeping your knee straight, slowly lift your leg, tightening your gluteal muscles. Hold for 2 seconds then slowly lower your leg back down. Repeat 10 times.
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    Sports Injury Clinic, “Rehabilitation - Hip Bursitis” accessed 2/3/11

    PhysioAdvisor, “Gluteal (Buttock) Stretches” accessed 2/3/11