Hip bursitis is a relatively common condition in which the fluid-filled sacs in your hips (bursas) become inflamed in an attempt to minimize friction in your hip joints.

This is your body’s innate response to lifting heavier weights, exercising more, or simply performing movements that require more from your hips. Hip bursitis can become especially challenging for runners.

The frequent and repetitive pounding motion of the running stride tends to wear on the hip joints over time, especially if you’re not practicing good form. Luckily, there are many exercises you can do to counteract this wear and tear.

Keeping the muscular foundation of your thighs and core is paramount. Having a strong muscular base supporting your hips will enable you to perform the same movements with fewer traumas caused to the joint itself. Instead, your muscles will be absorbing the impact. The idea is to recruit muscles to stabilize your hips, rather than allowing your hips to experience any jarring motion. When it comes to alleviating bursitis pain, strength training is the remedy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the hip is one of the three most common joints that can be affected by bursitis, with the shoulder and elbow being the two others.

Hip Bridges

Hip bridges engage your hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. All of these muscles play a role in supporting the hip joints, making this exercise perfect for hip strength.

Equipment needed: none, yoga mat optional

Muscles worked: hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back

  1. Start by lying flat on your back with your feet flat on the ground close to your bottom and your legs bent.
  2. In a controlled motion, drive your weight down through your heels to elevate your hips up so they’re in line with your shoulders and knees.
  3. You should feel this upward driving motion primarily in your glutes and hamstrings.
  4. Sink your hips back down to the ground slowly.
  5. Perform 5 sets of 20 repetitions.

Take It to the Next Level

You can increase the challenge of hip bridges by completing 5 “until failure” sets.

  1. Perform the hip bridge as described above.
  2. Be sure not to compromise your form as the repetitions get more challenging.
  3. Complete 5 sets. In each set, go until you achieve muscle failure. In other words, go until you can’t do another rep. You can add a weight and sit it on your pelvis to increase the difficulty.

Lying Lateral Leg Raises

Lying lateral leg raises will help strengthen and develop your iliotibial (IT) band, which spans the outside portion of your upper leg. This vascular band is partially responsible for side-to-side leg motion. It often gets neglected in a running routine, since the running stride is forwards and backwards. Thus, it’s pertinent to spend some time enhancing the stability and strength it provides.

Equipment needed: none, yoga mat optional

Muscles worked: gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, quadriceps, hamstrings, and obliques

  1. Lie on your right side with your right arm extended out for balance.
  2. Lift your leg up as far as you can extend it, trying to achieve the greatest range of motion possible.
  3. In a controlled motion, bring your left leg back down so that it’s in line with your right leg.
  4. Complete 15 repetitions with that leg, then roll over onto your left side and perform 15.
  5. Finish 4 sets of 15 repetitions on each leg.

Lying Leg Circles

Performing lying leg circles will help promote the range of motion, flexibility, and strength in all of the small muscles that make hip and leg rotation possible.

Equipment needed: none, yoga mat optional

Muscles worked: hip flexors and gluteal muscles

  1. Start by lying flat on your back with your legs extended.
  2. Elevate your left leg to about 3 inches off of the ground, and then make small circles, keeping your whole leg straight and in line.
  3. Switch to your right leg and perform the same movement.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 5 rotations on each leg for 30 total reps on each leg.

The Takeaway

For the best results, look to incorporate these exercises four to five times a week. Boosting the strength of your hip and leg muscles will undoubtedly minimize the risk for developing bursitis and may help with the pain associated with hip bursitis.

Along with practicing an effective strength training regimen, it’s important to stretch, ice, and rest. Rest is crucial, as it is you body’s time to focus on rebuilding, rejuvenating, and repairing the parts that you tax during workouts.

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