5 Best Exercises For Hip Bursitis (Stretching Routine)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 8, 2023
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Hip bursitis pain is quite a common issue for athletes to deal with, and while more serious cases require medical treatments, most people can deal with and prevent it through a series of simple daily exercises.

As a certified personal trainer, I spent a few hours with a physical therapist to find out what the best options were.

She was very helpful and showed me five exercises and a simple stretching routine she uses in physical therapy with clients.

Let’s take a look at what exercises might help you treat hip bursitis.

Quick Summary

  • To alleviate and manage hip bursitis, incorporate into your daily routine exercises like glute bridges, thigh presses, side planks, yogi squats, and straight leg raises.
  • The article emphasizes the importance of combining strength-building exercises with stretching routines to target and relieve hip bursitis symptoms effectively.
  • Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS), formerly known as trochanteric bursitis, impacts 1.8 per 1000 patients annually, as noted in a publication on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website.
  • Drawing from my own experience as a fitness professional, many clients have reported reduced pain levels, increased mobility, and a better overall quality of life, reaffirming the efficacy of these recommended exercises.

5 Exercises for Hip Bursitis

Doing glute bridges, leg raises, and hip bursitis exercises

Here are five simple exercises that you can do at home or at the gym.

1. Glute Bridge

In my personal training experience, the glute bridge has been extremely effective for clients with hip bursitis. It not only strengthens the glutes but also helps in reducing hip pain, something I've seen bring relief to many of my clients.

Lie down flat on your back with your feet flat on the ground and knees bent. Then push your pelvis up as far as possible.

You’ll feel this in your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. And if you hold the upper position, it also introduces a nice stretch. 

2. Thigh Press

I've incorporated thigh press exercises in my clients' routines, especially those suffering from hip bursitis. The use of resistance bands really helps in engaging the hip muscles and alleviating discomfort. You can do this with resistance bands by lying on the floor with your legs straight up in the air.

Place a resistance band over your feet and add some tension with your hands. Your inner thighs will be touching, and you want to separate them as far as possible to engage your hip and leg muscles.

3. Side Plank

Doing side planks in the gym

Lie on your side fully stretched out, and rest your upper body on your elbow. Then lift up your hips until your body is completely straight and hold this for a minute.

You can also do an easier variation and lie on your side with only the top knee straight.

Many of my clients have reported a significant reduction in hip pain after regularly including this exercise in their routines.

4. Yogi Squat

I often recommend the yogi squat to clients with tight hips. It's a great way to open up the hip joints and improve flexibility, which is crucial for those dealing with hip bursitis.

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and then slowly lower your buttocks down as far as possible. With each knee pointing forward, push your elbow against your thighs to push them out and stretch the hip muscles.

5. Straight Leg Raises

Straight leg raises are a staple in my training programs for clients with hip issues. This strength exercise not only strengthens the thigh muscles but also helps in stretching the hip flexors, providing relief from bursitis pain.

You lie down on your side and keep the upper leg straight. Then slowly lift it up as far as you can. You should also feel a gentle stretch in the thigh muscles. Don’t forget to do the same for the opposite thigh.

Can Exercises Help With Hip Bursitis?

A woman performing hip bursitis stretches

Yes, exercises can help with hip bursitis. According to an article found on the Mayo Clinic website, in severe cases, you may need to consider medication and even steroid injections [1].

But it’s entirely possible to prevent this problem and start proactively dealing with it through a series of daily exercises.

The underlying issue is an inflammation of fluid sacs near the hip joint, and those can become painful whenever you move your hips, according to an article found on the Cleveland Clinic website [2].

According to one of the books published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS), previously known as trochanteric bursitis, affects 1.8 per 1000 patients annually [3].

What you need to focus on is a few exercises that strengthen the muscles supporting the thighs and do some stretching to improve the range of motion.

“Acute bursitis usually flares over hours or days. Chronic bursitis can last from a few days to several weeks.“

- Beth Oller, MD

Can A Hip Rotator Stretch Help As Well?

A woman doing rotating hip stretch

Yes, a hip rotator stretch can help reduce the pressure on the inflammation.

For a hip rotator stretch, lie on your back with your knees at a right angle. Place one foot on the knee of the other leg and then use your hands to gently pull it towards the opposite shoulder.

This will stretch the front thigh muscles and should relieve some leg pain as well.

Then, push the knee away from you and hold the stretch for about five seconds. This will also help your hips roll and move more easily.

I would also suggest that you don’t just do this for the affected leg but do it on both sides. It can be a great way to prevent these issues.

FAQs

What Is The Fastest Way To Heal Bursitis Of The Hip?

The fastest way to heal bursitis of the hip is through medical steroid injections from a doctor. However, if you’re dealing with minor discomfort, then doing regular hip exercises and stretches may help to improve the issue.

Is Walking Good For Bursitis Of The Hip?

Yes, walking is good for the bursitis of the hip. It’s a low-impact form of exercise that should help to strengthen thigh muscles and add more movement and circulation to the outer thighs.

How Can Nutrition Help in Managing Hip Bursitis?

Certain dietary choices can significantly reduce inflammation associated with hip bursitis. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric, and green leafy vegetables can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

What Are the Benefits of Aquatic Therapy for Hip Bursitis?

Aquatic therapy, or water exercises, are highly beneficial for those with hip bursitis as they reduce pain and improve mobility. The buoyancy of water lessens stress on the hip joints, allowing for pain-free movement and strengthening.

How Can Mind-Body Techniques Aid in Hip Bursitis Pain Management?

Mind-body techniques like meditation and yoga can be effective in managing the pain and stress associated with hip bursitis. These practices help in relaxation, reducing muscle tension around the hips, and improving overall well-being.

How Does Footwear Impact Hip Bursitis?

Proper footwear is crucial in managing hip bursitis as it can either alleviate or exacerbate symptoms. Shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning can help in distributing weight evenly, reducing stress on the hips.

What Preventive Measures Should Athletes Take to Avoid Hip Bursitis?

Athletes, especially runners, should engage in preventive exercises and practices to avoid developing hip bursitis. Regular stretching, strengthening hip and core muscles, and using proper running techniques can significantly reduce the risk of this condition.


References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bursitis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353247
  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4964-trochanteric-bursitis
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557433/
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