Exercises To Improve Hip Mobility

Did you know there are 27 muscles that cross the ball and socket hip joint?! Some muscles act as primary movers while others act as dynamic stabilizers for the hip. When the hip capsule is hypomobile (or tight), your body is likely to compensate either up or down the kinetic chain to still achieve movement. This can lead to various pathologies in the lumbar spine as well as the lower extremity (1-5). The good news is there are many ways that someone can improve their hip mobility. In this article, you will learn why hip mobility is important for overall movement capacity and longevity, and we will show you 4 exercises to improve your hip mobility!

 

The Importance of Hip Mobility

As discussed in the introduction, a decrease in the amount of hip mobility available may lead to compensations as well as potential injuries in other areas of the body. More specifically, hip mobility deficits have been found in people with hip osteoarthritis, sports-related groin pain, and femoroaceteabular impingement aka FAI (6-8). When FAI and labral tears are present, one typically exhibits reduced hip mobility into flexion, internal rotation, and adduction (9. Regardless of the pathology, you want to at minimal maintain hip mobility that you have and mitigate the loss of hip mobility. In an ideal world, you even gain some mobility back!

READ: EXERCISES FOR FAI SYNDROME

exercises for FAI syndrome the prehab guys

Why Hip Tightness Is Bad

When hip mobility is adequate, there are better arthrokinematics, which leaves you with a happy hip.

 

Exercises To Improve Hip Mobility

Now that you have an understanding of the importance regarding hip mobility in addition to the different motions that occur at the hip, we will now transition into visual demonstrations of various exercises to improve hip mobility. Follow along with visual and written descriptions that will detail exactly how you can replicate these exercises on your own to optimize the mobility of your hip!

Exercises To Improve Hip Mobility: #1 Supine Hip Flexion mobilization

Sample [P]Rehab Exercise Library Video

There are various ways in which one can self-mobilize their hip joint. Achieving optimal client outcomes can be achieved with self hip-mobilizations (10). The goal here is to improve the hip capsule and connective tissue mobility.

 

  • Tie a band around a stable surface on one end and bring it as close as you can to your hip joint on the opposite end (feel free to pad the band with a towel if the band alone irritates you). Scoot yourself back until you feel a strong pull from the band. Using a band here will help clear some space in the hip joint -> improve the hip joint’s ability to glide properly. Bring your hip into as much pain-free flexion as your hip will allow. You can hang out at the end or oscillate back and forth. Play around with moving your hip into Internal or External rotation as well. Find whichever restriction works best for you. Follow up your mobilization with active exercises (continue reading to learn some!)

 

Note: It is important to seek a skilled clinician to consider if mobilizations are warranted. When hip mobility deficit is due to bony morphologic changes, mobilization may be INAPPROPRIATE.

 

Exercises To Improve Hip Mobility: #2 Hip External/Internal Rotation With Forward Trunk lean

Limitations in hip flexion and internal rotation range of motion have been implicated as characteristics of hip pathology. Any activities that require squatting, pivoting, planting and cutting, and/or rotating your body will likely be hindered by limited hip flexion and internal rotation range. Here is a drill that helps to improve both hip internal and external rotation simultaneously.

Keep both feet and knees touching the floor throughout this exercise. If you don’t have adequate hip mobility in this position, you can sit on a yoga block to decrease the amount of hip mobility required to perform this exercise. Stretch the leg to your side into an abducted and internally rotated position and the leg in front of you into a flexed and externally rotated position.

To further the stretch you have two options:

  1. Increase the load by leaning forward toward your front leg.
  2. Rotate away from the leg on your side.

Note: This is an advanced drill that requires a lot of hip mobility!! Make sure you are not reproducing any hip symptoms with this exercise.

I particularly like this exercise because it focuses on flexion and external rotation AND abduction and internal rotation, two motions that are typically overlooked. A Systematic Review by Dallinga et al in 2012 showed that limited hip abduction ROM has been suggested as a predictor of future lower extremity injuries whereas limited hip internal rotation ROM is a strong predictor for the presence of hip OA (11, 12)

 

Exercises To Improve Hip Mobility: #3 Quadruped Inferior and Lateral Hip Mobilization

Research has demonstrated that clients with femoral-acetabular impingement (FAI) have limited squatting motion compared to patients in a control group due to limited pelvic sagittal plane motion (13). Squat depth has been improved post-surgically in clients with FAI as a result of reduced acetabular coverage and an improved pelvic posterior inclination angle (14). Theoretically, improving capsular mobility (in cases of limitations) may be beneficial as it also improved sagittal plane motion. Therefore, this technique is likely most beneficial for the client with limited hip flexion motion in a loaded position (13).

Here are 2 additional ways you can improve hip mobility by moving your pelvis over your femur:

  • Begin on your hands and knees in a quadruped position. Put the mobility band as close as you can to the hip joint. Allow the band to pull either laterally (as shown on the right) or inferiorly (as shown on the left).

 

  • Sit back until the desired stretch is felt. You also have the option to rotate the hip into external rotation (pigeon stretch) or internal rotation. To progress this exercise go into a loaded position of a squat and attempt to go into as much hip flexion as possible. You can use a band to provide lateral traction in the hip if required. This will help you learn and maintain your new hip flexion range of motion.

 

Note:  This position is great because your own bodyweight is providing the posterior glide of the femur on the acetabulum that will help with your hip mobility!

 

Exercises To Improve Hip Mobility: #4 Self hip mobilization into flexion and External rotation

Here is the last self hip mobilization!

  • Find an elevated surface where you can perform a lunge to mobilize the hip. Anchor the mobility band by stepping on it at one end and allow the other end to wrap around your hip joint. Make sure to keep your foot on the band, you don’t want it to slip out from under you!

 

  • Lunge into pure hip flexion. If you need, you can use your arms to assist by pulling your hip closer to your chest! In this position you have the option to either internally or externally rotate your hip. On the right, I demonstrate a variation with hip external rotation.

 

Following the self-joint mobilizations, it is critical that you perform several repetitions of isometric end range exercises and isotonic exercises through the end ranges of hip mobility to re-educate the musculature and maintain the newly gained ROM! Shown HereHere, and Here are a couple of great ways to strengthen the hip in its new range of motion.  Finally, perform several dynamic drills to achieve neuromuscular control in the new hip ranges. The aforementioned self-hip mobilizations are meant to be integrated into a multimodal therapeutic home exercise program for a client by a clinician. Little evidence exists to describe the efficacy of these self-hip mobilizations in isolation or to demonstrate one technique’s value over another’s.

Note: It is suggested that you seek a skilled physical therapist or a rehab specialist to perform this skilled joint mobilization!

 

LISTEN: LOW BACK DISCUSSION WITH THE [P]REHAB GUYS

exercises to improve hip mobility Low back discussion the prehab guys

Limited hip mobility is one of the most common causes for low back pain. To learn more about the low back and how to maintain a healthy spine, listen to our [P]Rehab Audio Experience!

Hip [P]Rehab Program

exercises to improve hip mobility hip prehab program the prehab guys

Looking for other ways that you can optimize your hip mobility, stability, and strength? Look no further than our Hip [P]Rehab Program! The Hip [P]Rehab Program is a physical therapist developed, step-by-step program that teaches you how to optimize your hip health. This 3-phase program will expose you to various hip and lower body strengthening and stabilization exercises supported by science. This program will bulletproof your hips for anything life throws at you! Learn more HERE!

 

REFERENCES

  1. Reiman MP, Weisbach PC, Glynn PE. The hips influence on low back pain: a distal link to a proximal problem. J Sport Rehabil.  2009;18(1):24-32.
  2. Devin CJ, McCullough KA, Morris BJ, Yates AJ, Kang JD. Hip-spine syndrome. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2012;20(7):434-442.
  3. Burns SA, Mintken PE, Austin GP. Clinical decision making in a patient with secondary hip-spine syndrome. Physiother Theory Pract.  2011;27(5):384-397.
  4. Cliborne AV, Wainner RS, Rhon DI, et al. Clinical hip tests and a functional squat test in patients with knee osteoarthritis: reliability, prevalence of positive test fi ndings, and short-term response to hip mobilization. J Orthop Sports Phys. Ther. 2004;34(11):676-685.
  5. Currier LL, Froehlich PJ, Carow SD, et al. Development of a clinical prediction rule to identify patients with knee pain and clinical evidence of knee osteoarthritis who demonstrate a favorable short-term response to hip mobilization. Phys Ther. 2007;87(9):1106 1119.
  6. Birrell F, Croft P, Cooper C, et al. Predicting radiographic hip osteoarthritis from range of movement. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2001;40(5):506-512.
  7. Nevin F, Delahunt E. Adductor squeeze test values and hip joint range of motion in Gaelic football athletes with longstanding groin pain. J Sci Med Sport.
  8. Kubiak-Langer M, Tannast M, Murphy SB, Siebenrock KA, Langlotz F. Range of motion in anterior femoroacetabular impingement. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2007;458:117-124.
  9. Burnett RS, Della Rocca GJ, Prather H, Curry M, Maloney WJ, Clohisy JC. Clinical presentation of patients with tears of the acetabular labrum. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2006;88(7):1448-1457.
  10. Wright AA, Hegedus EJ. Augmented home exercise program for a 37-year-old female with a clinical presentation of femoroacetabular impingement. Man Ther. 2012;17(4):358-363.
  11. ltman R, Alarcon G, Appelrouth D, et al. The American College of Rheumatology criteria for the classification and reporting of osteoarthritis of the hip. Arthritis Rheum. 1991;34(5):505-514.
  12. Birrell F, Croft P, Cooper C, et al. Predicting radiographic hip osteoarthritis from range of movement. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2001;40(5):506-512.
  13. Lamontagne M, Kennedy MJ, Beaule PE. The effect of cam FAI on hip and pelvic motion during maximum squat. Clin Orthop. 2009;467(3):645-650.
  14. Lamontagne M, Brisson N, Kennedy MJ, Beaule PE. Preoperative and postoperative lower-extremity joint and pelvic kinematics during maximal squatting of patients with cam femoro-acetabular impingement. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2011;93 Suppl 2:40-45.

 

Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.

 

19 Comments
  • Albert Trotter
    Posted at 07:59h, 14 June Reply

    the exercise looks good..i will try it for myself

    • Arash Maghsoodi
      Posted at 16:23h, 20 September Reply

      Let us know how you like it!

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  • Christina Campagna
    Posted at 10:49h, 14 December Reply

    Early in the article you mention FAI and labral tears. I have both in my left hip along with a cyst that has formed on the acetabular. Do you still recommend doing these mobility exercises?

    • Arash Maghsoodi
      Posted at 22:30h, 15 December Reply

      Hi Christina, this is a very specific question. I would recommend seeing a healthcare specialist on your issue. Let us know if you would like us to recommend you to someone local to you. The mobility impairments typically presents with FAI, which is why we recommend to mobilize the hip, however would not want to do this at risk of harming your cyst.

      • Christina Campagna
        Posted at 06:23h, 16 December Reply

        Thank you for responding. I am seeing a hip specialist and a physical therapist for my hip. We have opted to postpone surgery until the spring to avoid crutches on the ice here in Minnesota. I was just asking if these could be safe to help with some of the pain. I probably should have asked my therapist instead. I really do appreciate the great content you put out. As a Personal Trainer, kettlebell instructor and Karate Brown Belt, I find it all very helpful! I will try to remember to let you know how things go with the hip after recovery.

  • Tim
    Posted at 13:07h, 11 March Reply

    Great info guys, and very thorough. I have some clients that have FAI and I’ve been trying to find new ways to help them improve hip mobility, so we will be trying these drills. One question, should they warm up before doing the prehab exercises?

    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 15:36h, 12 March Reply

      A lot of these exercises would be the “warm up”, so not necessary!

  • Lisa
    Posted at 16:35h, 20 April Reply

    As a competitive athlete who struggled my whole career with tight hips, I appreciate posts like this, offering possible solutions. Seems like the benefits of each exercise may be very acute. Can you comment? How long and how frequently would these stretches need to be performed in order to actually notice a difference?

    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 15:24h, 28 April Reply

      It’s all going to depend on the situation. You definitely will get acute changes with these stretches, however in order to keep range at any joint, you have to load it and learn to use it. So also perform your exercises and stability work AFTER mobilizing. Hope that helps!

  • Aimee
    Posted at 16:11h, 08 May Reply

    What kind of bands are you using… where would I find these?

  • Joe
    Posted at 06:51h, 04 June Reply

    Thanks for the great content. Do you have any tests to determine if my hips have enough mobility or if they are tight?

    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 07:00h, 06 June Reply

      There are some but they are not the easiest to perform on our own. Know that you can ALWAYS benefit from more hip mobility, so when in doubt keep mobilizing!

  • Anna Dotsnko
    Posted at 06:04h, 19 May Reply

    Hi Michael, thanks for this informative stuff. I have terrible lower back pain, do you think these workout руды me to deal with it? BTW what do you think about the effectiveness of duck walks as it was mentioned here https://myergonomicchair.com/hip-mobility-exercises/? Do you agree with it?

    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 12:09h, 03 June Reply

      Hi Anna I would suggest reaching out directly to a physio in your local area who will best be able to assist you as it’s not a one size fits all answer! Regarding your duck walk – it can be good for the right person – yes!

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