If your hip feels sore or tight after exercise, the muscles surrounding your hip joints are probably not strong enough to tolerate this activity. By performing a few exercises to strengthen them, you can ease this soreness and decrease your risk of a more serious hip injury.
If you ever took gymnastics classes as a child, you may remember this popular movement. As it turns out, bridge-ups are not just meant for fun. They're also great for strengthening your hip muscles. Begin by laying flat on your back with your arms at your sides. Scoot your feet towards your torso until the bend at your knee is approximately a right angle. Then, push your buttocks towards the sky, forming a straight line from your chest, through your hips, to your knees. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and then lower yourself back to the starting position. Try performing 10 bridge-ups twice per day to build hip strength. As your hips become stronger, you can also start holding each bridge-up for 20 seconds rather than 10.
This all-around exercise works your inner and outer hip muscles. Start by standing upright with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointed forward. Slowly raise your left leg to the side until it is level with your hip. Keep your legs as straight as possible. Hold this position for 2 – 3 seconds, return your leg to the ground, and then repeat the movement. Aim for 15 repetitions on each side. As your hips become stronger, push for 25 repetitions per side.
Standing Hip Raises
A good exercise for the hip flexors, which are often under-strengthened by runners, this movement is easy to perform. Stand with your toes pointed forward and your arms bent so that your fists rest on your upper chest. Then, bend your left knee slightly as you raise your right leg forward into the air. Keep your right leg as straight as possible. You may have to bend your right knee slightly when you're first starting out. Hold this position for 1 second, and then return your right leg to the ground. Alternate legs until you have performed 10 repetitions with each leg. Over time, aim to increase to 20 repetitions per side.
Hip Flexor Static Stretches
Another good exercise to target the hip flexors, this one is also performed in an upright position. Start by kneeling on a carpeted or padded floor. Then, bring one leg forward and place the foot flat on the ground, so that a 90-degree angle is formed at the knee. Shimmy this foot forward a few more inches, and keep the back knee firmly in place on the floor. Push your hips forward so that they are slightly in front of your back knee, and hold this position to stretch out your hips for about 15 seconds. Return to your starting position to rest briefly before performing 4 – 5 more repetitions. Switch legs to stretch out the other hip.
These exercises are intended to strengthen the muscles in your hip and help alleviate minor soreness. If you are suffering from hip pain that's so severe it's effecting your gait or if you've sustained a possible injury to the hip, contact an orthopedic doctor for specialized treatment and advice. Continuing to exercise through an injury can cause permanent damage to your hip joint.
Also contact an orthopedic specialist at a place like Town Center Orthopaedic Associates if your hip soreness does not subside after several weeks of performing these exercises. Sometimes hip pain has more sinister causes, such as rheumatoid arthritis or a tendon strain, and properly diagnosing the problem is the key to successfully beginning to ease the pain.