Hip rotation exercises can strengthen the muscles that rotate the hip joint and improve your range of motion. In the long run, they may also give your legs a toned appearance and help prevent future injuries.
Overview of the Hip Muscles
The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, much like the shoulder joint, and consists of the femur and socket of the hipbone, explains the American Council on Exercise. The hip moves in many different directions, including forward and back. It also rotates internally and externally.
Several muscles, including the piriformis, gemellus superior and inferior, gluteus maximus and medius, aid in external hip rotation, according to ExRx.net. There are no true primary internal hip rotator muscles, says the American Council on Exercise. However, several muscles work together to create this motion.
When the hip is flexed to 90 degrees, the tensor fasciae latae, adductors longus and brevis, pectineus and the anterior fibers of the gluteus medius and minimus rotate your leg in toward the midline.
It is important to strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip as it will help keep your joint stable and prevent future injuries, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Furthermore, hip stretches may help restore and improve your flexibility while reducing muscle soreness.
1. Strengthening Hip Rotation Exercises
Before you start with the following hip rotation exercises, warm up for five to 10 minutes by walking or riding a stationary bike. If you have any pain or other symptoms, check with your doctor before engaging in regular exercise. Stop any activity that causes pain.
Move 1: Clamshell
- Lie on your side with your knees bent and your legs stacked.
- While your feet remain together, lift the top leg open as if you are opening a clamshell.
- Add an exercise band around your knees for more resistance.
- Perform 15 to 20 reps, two times on each side.
Move 2: Side-Lying Hip Adduction
- Lie on one side and bend your bottom leg to 45 degrees and keep the top leg straight.
- Lift the upper leg toward the ceiling, squeezing at the top before slowly lowering your leg down.
- Keep your stacked straight and don't roll back.
- Add an exercise band around your knees for added resistance.
- Perform 15 to 20 reps, twice on each side.
Move 3: Monster Walks
- Place an exercise band around the ankles or knees.
- Get in a quarter-squat position.
- Keep in the squatted position as you step diagonally forward and then diagonally backward.
- Walk forward 10 times and then backward 10 times. Perform two repetitions.
The following exercises target all the hip rotators, according to the AAOS. It is important to strengthen the surrounding hip muscles to keep your joint stable to prevent re-injury.
Move 4: Hip External Rotation
- Lie on your side on a table, with your lower arm in front of your body and a pillow under your head.
- Bring your bottom leg forward and lower it so it is below the table. Your top leg is straight for balance.
- Externally rotate your hip and lift your top foot as high as possible and then lower down to start position.
- Perform eight to 12 repetitions. Wear ankle weights for a more challenging workout.
Move 5: Hip Internal Rotation
- Lie on your side on a table with a pillow between your thighs.
- Bring your top leg forward and lower it so it is below the table.
- Your bottom leg is slightly bent for balance.
- Rotate your hip and lift your foot as high as possible before bringing it back down.
- Perform eight to 12 repetitions. Consider using ankle weights for increased resistance.
2. Hip Rotator Cuff Stretches
The following hip rotator cuff stretches can help improve joint flexibility and range of motion in the hips. Since this is a three-dimensional joint, these stretches work all the motions to open up the hip, says the American Council on Exercise.
Move 1: Seated Internal Rotation
- Sit in a hurdler or pigeon stretch, with the left knee pointing out from the hip at a 45-degree angle.
- Roll to a seated position, with the knees wide and your feet flat on the floor.
- Roll to the other side in the same hurdler or pigeon stretch.
- Move from side to side, holding each side for three to five seconds.
- Perform 10 to 15 reps.
Move 2: Seated Glute Stretch
- Sit in a cross-legged position, with your right foot tucked into the left thigh.
- Lean over your crossed legs.
- Hold for five to 10 seconds.
- Switch sides with the opposite foot tucked. Hold for five to 10 seconds.
- Perform five reps on each side.