If you suffer from osteoarthritis of the hip, you may find that exercising isn’t as easy as it once was. However, lack of exercise may increase your osteoarthritis symptoms as muscles deteriorate and joints stiffen. While some exercises, such as running, may actually make your symptoms worse, there are plenty of low-impact exercises that will help decrease your symptoms.
Start your workout with warming up and stretching your hip area. Take a warm shower or use a hot towel or heating pad to warm your hips for 10 minutes. It is also important to stretch your hips before exercise and at least daily. Hip stretches will help build muscle around the joint that provides more support. We describe hip stretches along with exercises below.
To stretch your hips, lay on the floor with your feet firmly on the floor and knees bent. Gently bring your knees to your chest area. Repeat 10 times.
Instead of starting with your feet firmly on the floor, start with your legs stretched out and toes pointed toward the ceiling. Lift your feet 1-2 inches off the ground, slowly bend your legs, and then bring your knees to your chest area.
Sit down on the floor with your knees bent and heels on the floor. Keep your feet and legs parallel to each other. Slowly bring your feet towards your buttocks as much as you can without strain. Lean forward to stretch your groin and hip muscles.
Instead of keeping your feet and legs parallel to each other, bend your knees outward into a butterfly position. The soles of your feet should be touching each other. Bend forward to stretch your groin and hip muscles.
Stand in front of a counter or place a chair in front of you with the back facing towards you. Hold the counter or back of the chair for balance. Stand straight and tall with good posture. Slowly raise one leg behind, without bending the knee, as much as you can without strain. Do this 5-10 times with each leg. This exercise can also be done in a pool.
Add range-of-motion to this exercise. Instead of lifting your leg backward, lift your leg to your side and then pull it behind you in a half-circle motion. Slowly bring the leg down and repeat.
You may find that riding a bike is difficult for you. Stationary bikes are better suited for those with hip problems because they don’t have to worry about the strain of getting on and off a normal bicycle. For hip arthritis suffers who also have knee arthritis or other problems, you may find that and elliptical stepper is easier on your knees than a stationary bicycle. Because of the circling motion, elliptical steppers are easier on your knees and hips than a typical treadmill.
Invest in a bicycle and ride 3-4 times a week.
Doctors have long recommended swimming and water aerobics for arthritis sufferers because the buoyancy places less pressure on your hips and other joints. Swimming laps places little pressure on your hips and is a great cardiovascular exercise. Typical aerobic exercises can easily be done in a pool. Many cities have YMCAs and other swimming facilities that offer aerobic workouts.
Talk to your aerobic workout instructor to inquire about advanced water aerobics classes.
Pilates is a style of body conditioning that helps build muscle, increases flexibility, strength and endurance. The great thing about Pilates for arthritis sufferers is that the exercises can be modified for your particular strength, skill, and arthritis level. Most cities and large towns have someone in the area that teaches Pilates classes. There are also high quality videos available for purchase. Whichever route you choose, make sure the Pilates course is at your skill level or can be modified for it.
There are advanced Pilates videos and classes. We recommend starting out as a beginner so you can judge your level without straining yourself.
Yoga is a mental and physical disciple that originated in ancient India. Modern Western yoga still encompasses some spiritual meditation, but focuses largely on exercise. Using “poses”, yoga helps osteoarthritis by strengthening your joints, reducing stiffness in joints, and strengthening the muscle around your joints. In addition to helping osteoarthritis, studies have shown that the practice may reduce high blood pressure, decrease obesity, and lower cardiovascular risk factors.
Like Pilates, both classes and videos are available, and we recommend starting out as a beginner so you can judge your level without straining yourself.
If you suffer from severe arthritis or have other health related issues, always consult your doctor before starting any hip exercises. Discontinue any exercises if you experience pain.