Hip internal rotation is an often neglected yet crucial movement for maintaining proper posture and reducing strain on the body. It allows for an increased range of motion, enabling you to explore challenging poses and movements.
We did a ton of research and interviewed several fitness experts for their opinions on hip mobility exercises, and all our data suggests including hip internal rotation exercises is vital to avoid hip issues and reduced functionality.
This article will provide important information about hip internal rotation and the most effective stretches and exercises you can add to your regimen.
- The hip internal rotation exercises include side-lying, seated, or squatting hip rotations, windshield wipers, posterior capsule stretches, 90-90 leg lifts, banded clamshells, and standing hip rotation dissociation.
- The principal internal hip rotators include the tensor fascia latae, the glutes, and the adductors of the hip joint.
- Reduced hip internal rotation may be due to muscle strain, sedentary lifestyle, or hip injuries and produce gait issues, compromised range of motion, and lower back and hip pain.
Workouts To Increase Internal Rotation of the Hips
In this article, I have talked about eight practical hip internal rotation mobility exercises and stretches.
What Is Hip Internal Rotation?
Hip internal (medial) rotation refers to the movement where your thigh bone, known as the femur, rotates inward toward your pelvis at the hip joint.
The normal hip internal rotation range is around 40–45 degrees.
Mobility Exercises for Hip Internal Rotation
Here are some hip internal rotation stretches to improve mobility and strength in your hip muscles.
1. Side-Lying Hip Rotation
The side-lying hip rotation exercise effectively engages the gluteus medius while minimizing activation of the tensor fascia lata and anterior hip flexors.
Here's how to perform side-lying hip rotations:
- Begin by lying on your side.
- Flex your top hip forward, raising your thigh to 90 degrees or as desired for your goals.
- Hold your thigh in the air and internally rotate the hip by moving your foot toward the ceiling.
- Lower your foot towards the floor for external rotation of the hip.
- Repeat the movement for reps.
2. Seated Hip Internal Rotation
The heated hip internal rotation stretch is a mobility exercise where you rotate one leg inward while keeping the other on the floor.
Keep your buttocks grounded to isolate the movement in the hip joint.
Here are the steps to perform this stretch:
- Begin seated on the ground with knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Position the soles of your feet flat on the floor, comfortably apart.
- Place your right hand behind your body, resting your right palm on the ground.
- Rest your left hand on your left knee.
- Flex your left foot, pointing your toes upward, to protect your knee during internal hip rotation.
- While keeping your hand on your left knee, rotate your left inner thigh towards the ground.
- Lower your left thigh until it forms a right angle with your calf, feeling a stretch in your hip's outer and frontal areas.
- Return your left leg to its original position.
3. Windshield Wipers
This is a yoga pose that provides relief for back pain while also improving core strength.
It targets the lower back and reinforces the internal rotators by engaging in an isometric contraction to counter lateral movement.
Here are the steps to perform a windshield wiper exercise:
- Lie on your back on the floor or bed.
- Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the surface, about two feet apart.
- Extend your arms to the sides, forming a "T" shape for stability.
- For a gentler stretch, slowly lower both knees to the right side.
- Flex both feet to protect the knees, feeling an internal stretch in the left leg and an external rotation stretch in the right leg.
- Keep your shoulder blades on the floor or bed as much as possible.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
- Slowly bring your knees back to the center.
4. Posterior Capsule Stretch
This dynamic stretch targets the mobility of the posterior joint capsule. Utilizing your body weight and thigh bone in the exercise enhances hip flexion, allowing a better range of motion when bringing the hip toward the chest.
To perform the posterior capsule stretch:
- Start on your hands and knees, activating your core.
- Gradually move your buttocks halfway back towards your heels, ensuring there is no discomfort in the front of your hip.
- Shift your weight to either your right or left knee.
- Experience a stretch along the outer hip and buttocks on the side you shifted towards.
- Maintain the stretch for 10 seconds.
5. 90-90 Leg Lift
This exercise is beneficial for any warm-up leg routine.
It dynamically mimics internal hip rotation, activating hip rotators and promoting a full range of motion for internal and external rotation.
Follow these steps to do this exercise:
- Begin seated on the ground with your knees bent, positioned wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Rotate one leg inward (internal rotation) and the other outward (external rotation).
- Ensure your thighs form a 90-degree angle with each other.
- Lift the foot of the internally rotated leg off the ground, holding the position for 5 seconds.
- Lower the leg back to the ground.
6. Clamshells With Resistance Band
Resistance band clamshells strengthen the gluteus medius, improving hip stability and internal rotation.
This exercise targets hip abduction, engaging the critical muscle responsible for these movements.
The steps to perform clamshells with a resistance band are as follows:
- Start by lying on your right side with your feet, legs, and hips aligned and your knees bent at a 45-degree angle.
- Support your head on your right arm or prop it up with your hand while engaging your core for stability.
- Place a resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees.
- Keep your feet in contact with each other and lift your upper leg comfortably without shifting your hips.
- Maintain a brief pause at the top, then lower your leg back to the starting position.
- Aim for 30 repetitions on the right side, then switch sides to perform the exercise on the left leg.
7. Squatting Internal Rotations
This excellent lower-body strength exercise enhances hip flexion and mobility, promoting increased medial rotation of the hip muscles.
To perform squatting rotations:
- Begin in a deep squat position, ensuring you feel balanced and centered.
- Lift one heel off the floor, allowing you to pivot on the ball of the foot and rotate the entire leg inward from the hip joint.
- Aim for freedom in the hip, knee, and ankle, allowing the leg to rotate smoothly without any limitations.
- Switch legs, continuing the rotational movement while maintaining a fluid and unrestricted rotation.
Anatomy of the Hip Internal Rotators
The hip internal rotator muscles include the tensor fascia lata, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and hip adductor muscles .
Let’s define them in a bit more detail:
- Tensor fasciae lata (TFL): Located on the lateral side of the hip, the TFL assists in flexion, abduction, and medial rotation of the hip joint. It also helps stabilize the pelvis during walking and running.
- Gluteus medius: The gluteus medius is on the hip's lateral side. It plays a crucial role in stabilizing the pelvis during walking, running, and standing activities. It also assists in the internal rotation of the hip joint.
- Gluteus minimus: Found deep in the gluteus medius, the gluteus minimus works in conjunction with the gluteus medius to stabilize the pelvis and assist in internal rotation of the hip.
- Adductor muscles: The adductor muscles, including the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, and gracilis, are located on the inner side of the thigh.
Why Is Hip Internal Rotation Important?
Good hip internal rotation is important for everyday activities, including walking, running, and even basic tasks like getting dressed.
Limited hip mobility puts strain on other joints, particularly the knee and the lower back, leading to potential issues and injuries.
Poor hip internal rotation can cause tendons, ligaments, and joints to experience excessive stress, resulting in tears and dislocations.
Weak hips are often associated with knee pain as well.
This is particularly important for athletes in sports requiring speed and agility, such as football or MMA.
High levels of hip strength are necessary for cutting movements and to minimize the likelihood of injuries during dynamic actions.
What Causes Reduced Rotation?
Various factors, such as strained muscles, a sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, or injuries, including hip impingement, osteoarthritis, and trochanteric bursitis, can cause reduced internal rotation of the hips.
Let’s dissect them in a bit more detail:
- Strained muscles: Overworking hip internal rotators can lead to muscular stiffness, but training them once a week is sufficient.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Inactivity and prolonged sitting can overload the hips, resulting in stiffness and loss of mobility .
- Poor posture: Hunched backs and rounded shoulders from an inactive lifestyle can contribute to poor hip mobility.
- Hip impingement: Femoral head pinches against the hip joint cup, causing stiffness and pain and potentially leading to arthritis.
- Osteoarthritis: Common joint disorder where protective cartilage wears down, affecting hands, knees, hips, and spine joints.
- Trochanteric bursitis: Inflammation of the fluid-filled sac near the hip joint's greater trochanter, causing chronic upper leg and hip pain.
"When you sit too much and don't move around, the muscles in your hips, legs, and calves get tighter."
- Dr. Lauren Elson, M.D.
The Potential Effects of Weak Internal Hip Rotation
Weak hip internal rotators can have several adverse effects besides just hip internal rotation pain:
- Gait issues: Compromised internal hip rotation can impact walking, running, jumping, and balance, leading to dizziness, lightheadedness, vertigo, motion sickness, and double vision .
- Weak lower body: Frail hips can hinder lower body development, eventually affecting overall strength and stability.
- Compromised range of motion: Muscle stiffness and weakness can limit the range of motion, impacting functionality, causing pain, and reducing physical performance.
- Lower back pain: Weak glutes and poor hip rotation put extra stress on the lower back, increasing the risk of lower back pain and potential injury to surrounding joints, tendons, and ligaments .
“The very interesting thing that we often find is that low back pain is intimately related with hip dysfunction. This occurs when the back is making up for the loss of the hip’s full capabilities."
- Dr. Chad Adams, DC, Chiropractor
Whether you're an athlete pivoting on the field or lifting heavy weights in the gym, hip internal rotation plays a crucial role in performance and injury prevention.
While it may not be a focus for many, incorporating hip internal rotation exercises is essential for preventing injuries, especially in sports.
Insufficient hip internal rotation range can lead to excessive knee stress, potentially causing severe injuries like torn ACLs, PCLs, or menisci.
What Is a Hip Internal Rotation Deficiency?
Tight tissues, anatomical differences, and inadequate load management during sports or physical activities cause hip internal rotation deficiency. These factors contribute to limitations in hip mobility and range of motion when rotating the thigh bone inwardly.
How Do You Fix Poor Internal Rotation?
You can fix poor internal rotation by performing hip strengthening exercises and stretches focusing on internal rotation.
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