Hip internal rotation is the twisting movement of your thigh inward from your hip joint. If you try this while standing, your foot should also turn so that your toes are pointing toward the rest of your body.
You use your hip internal rotators to walk, run, squat, crouch, and crawl. You also use them when you put your weight on one foot and rotate your pelvis. Without hip internal rotation, it would be difficult to complete everyday activities like putting on pants or stepping into a bathtub.
Read on to learn exercises and stretches to work out muscles that allow you to internally rotate your hips.
Hip internal rotation activates muscles in your hip, buttocks, and thighs. These include:
- the tensor fasciae latae (outer hip)
- parts of the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus (upper buttocks)
- the adductor longus, brevis, and magnus (inner thigh)
- the pectineus (upper frontal thigh)
There is no single muscle that allows your hip to rotate inward. Instead, all of the above muscles work together to generate internal rotation.
Insufficient hip internal rotation can lead to gait issues. For example, the knees or the soles of the feet might cave inward. When other parts of the lower body compensate for insufficient hip internal rotation, it might increase your risk of an injury.
Exercises can help you to develop strong hip internal rotators. Stretches improve flexibility and range of motion in the muscles that rotate the hips inward.
Some hip internal rotation exercises and stretches can put pressure on your knees. If you feel pain in your knee at any time, you should stop.
Exercise 1: Seated hip internal rotation
- Start in a seated position on the ground with your knees at 90 degrees. Plant the soles of your feet flat on the floor at a comfortable width. Extend your left arm behind your body, with your left palm on the ground. Put your right hand on your right knee.
- Flex your right foot so that your right toe is pointing upward. This helps to protect your knee during the hip internal rotation.
- Keeping your hand on your right knee, turn your right inner thigh toward the ground. Your right thigh and your right calf should make a right angle as you lower your thigh. You should feel a stretch in the outer and frontal parts of your hip.
- Return your right leg to the original position, and then repeat the action.
- Complete 20 or 30 reps, and then switch to the left side.
Exercise 2: Squatting internal rotations
- Start in a deep squat with your hands clasped in front of you.
- Using your left leg, push yourself slightly upward and to the left side.
- As your right leg falls toward the ground, your right thigh should rotate inward in your hip socket. Pause there, and then return to your squat.
- Push yourself up and to the right side using your right leg. This time, let your left leg fall toward the ground to produce left hip internal rotation. Pause, and do the movement again on the right.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times on either side.
Exercise 3: 90-90 foot lift
- Start in a seated position on the ground with your feet flat on the floor.
- Let both of your knees fall down and to the left so that the outside of your left leg is on the ground and the inside of your right leg is on the ground. Your legs should both be bent at the knee at about 90 degrees.
- Now, try to lift your right foot while keeping your hips and upper body stable. Lift the right foot and then release.
- Do 20 to 30 reps, and then repeat on the left side.
Stretch 1: Twisted legs hip internal rotation
- Start by sitting on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms and plant your palms behind you for balance.
- Let both of your knees fall toward the ground and to your right. Your left thigh should be extended straight in front of you with your left calf flat against the ground.
- Lift your right foot and set it on top of your left knee.
- You should feel the stretch deep in your right hip. If you don’t feel it right away, try pushing your torso toward your legs or adjusting your legs.
- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, and then do the same stretch on the other side.
Stretch 2: Lying with band
You will need a band, strap, or belt for this stretch.
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Hook the band around the bottom of your right foot. Bring both ends of the band toward the inside of your leg, holding them with your left hand.
- Extend your left leg so that it is flat on the floor. Flex your left foot. Place your right hand on your right knee, keeping the knee in place over the right hip.
- With your left hand still holding both ends of the band, pull your right foot toward you while holding your right knee above your hip. You should feel the stretch deep in your right hip.
- Hold it for around 30 seconds, and then complete the same stretch on the other side.
Stretch 3: Massage the hip internal rotators
For this stretch, you will need a massage ball. If you don’t have one on hand, you can use a tennis ball or a baseball. A massage ball can help you to loosen the muscles involved in hip internal rotation, specifically the tensor fasciae latae and the upper gluteus muscles (medius and minimus).
- Start by lying down on your right side with your right arm under your head.
- Lift your right hip off the ground, and then place the ball under the outer side part of your hip.
- Massage your right tensor fasciae latae muscle with slight movements. Try tucking and untucking your pelvis or moving your torso from side to side or up and down over the ball.
- Work out the gluteus medius and minimus muscles by rolling over onto your back so that the ball is under the upper part of your buttocks near your right hip. Again, try moving from side to side and up and down to release tension.
- Switch to the left side and spend a few minutes working out the corresponding hip internal rotator muscles.
Sitting for long stretches at a time can be a factor in poor hip internal rotation. Try the following chair exercises and stretches at work to improve internal rotation in your hips.
Seated chair hip internal rotation
- Start sitting in a straight-backed chair with your legs bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor.
- Move your right foot outward and up as far as it can go, keeping your right knee stable.
- Return your right foot beside your left foot.
- Repeat for 20 to 30 reps. Then do the same movement on the other leg.
Seated leg extension
- Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
- Extend your right leg straight out in front of you and flex your foot to protect your knee. Your right toes should be pointing upward.
- Twist your entire right leg so that your toes are pointing to the left. Pause, and then point your right toes upward again.
- Do this 20 to 30 times for the right leg. Then do the same exercise for the left leg.
If you experience pain when you rotate one or both of your hips inward, it could be a sign of a strained muscle, osteoarthritis, bursitis, or another condition affecting your hip joint.
Most of the time, hip internal rotation pain isn’t serious. But if hip pain starts to interfere with your day-to-day activities, you should make an appointment with a doctor.
Hip internal rotation occurs any time you move your thigh bone inward, activating muscles such as the tensor fasciae latae, the upper gluteus muscles, and the inner thigh muscles. You can use hip internal rotation exercises and stretches to improve internal rotator range of motion and help prevent lower body injuries.