Internal hip rotation refers to the twisting motion that creates inward rotation at the hip joint. Injured muscles and stiffness can limit hip mobility. To improve your ability to rotate your hip inward, you will need to strengthen several muscles responsible for the movement.
Hip Internal Rotation Muscles
No single muscle is responsible for your ability to rotate your hip inward. Instead, several muscles work together to provide stability and movement to the hip.
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According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), more than one muscle is responsible for internal hip rotation. ACE suggests that the muscles responsible for internal hip rotation when the leg is at a 90-degree angle include the following:
- Tensor fasciae latae
- Adductors longus and brevis
- Pectineus and the anterior fibers of gluteus medius and minimus
Also, your hamstrings, found on the backs of your legs, help with internal hip rotation. Strengthening these muscles can help ensure that you have sufficient inward rotation of your hips.
If your hips rotate inward either too much or not enough, it can cause issues with your gait. For example, you may notice your knees or your feet pointing inward when you walk or run. This is a result of your hip rotation going too far.
If this occurs, you may start to compensate for the movement with other muscles and joints. When you do this, you put yourself at a higher risk of injury. To prevent issues from internal hip rotation, you should take steps to strengthen the muscles that help to control hip rotation.
Some people may find core workouts, particularly Pilates mat work, to be effective for hip strengthening and relieving hip pain. According to a small July 2018 study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 14 women, ages 59 to 65, who participated in three hour-long mat Pilates classes per week saw significant improvements in hip strength.
Read more: 7-Minute Booty-Building Pilates Workout
Hip Internal Rotation Strengthening Exercises
Hip internal rotation exercises target the muscle group responsible for helping your hips turn your legs inward. You can perform these moves at home or at the gym.
Move 1: Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift With Reach
ACE recommends this move as a way to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. Performing this move should help strengthen your ability to internally rotate your hips to help prevent injury.
- Start in a standing position with both feet on the floor, hip-width apart, slightly bent knees and an elongated back.
- Lift your left leg off the floor by pushing your hips back and bend at the hips until your spine and right leg are both parallel with the floor.
- Once in position, reach your right hand toward your left foot.
- Do between 8 and 10 repetitions for 2 to 3 sets, with a 30- to 45-second break between sets.
Move 2: Squat With Rotation
NUHS Sports Medicine suggests doing a squat with rotation to help strengthen your internal hip rotation. This exercise requires you to have the ability to get into a deep squat.
- Lower yourself into a deep squat, keeping both heels on the floor.
- Place your left hand on your right shin and push your left knee outward.
- Rotate your right arm toward the ceiling once you are in the position.
- Return the right arm to your side.
- Repeat 8 to 10 times for 2 to 3 sets.
Move 3: Fire Hydrants
Princeton University Athletic Medicine has an exercise series that focuses on strengthening your hips. One of Princeton's exercises is the fire hydrant. You don't need any equipment to perform the fire hydrant, but a yoga mat or soft surface may help. This move helps to strengthen your glutes, which help control internal rotation.
- Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips but slightly apart.
- Engage your abdominal muscles and lift your right leg to the side, while maintaining a 90-degree angle at your knee and hip.
- Lift your thigh as far as you can or until it is parallel with your back.
- Avoid rotating your hips and keep your feet flexed during each repetition.
- Repeat 8 to 10 times for 2 to 3 sets.
Move 4: Clam Shells
A February 2013 study in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy says that the clam shell is a powerful exercise for hip strengthening and injury recovery. This move doesn't require any equipment other than a yoga mat or towel. The clam shell is non-impact and targets the muscles in your hips, thighs and glutes.
- Lie on your side with your knees slightly bent and feet together.
- Engage your core as you open your hip so that your knee points toward the ceiling.
- Make sure that you keep your feet together and don't allow your hips to roll forward or backward as you open your knee.
- Squeeze your glutes as you open your knee.
- Lower your knee back down to return to the starting position.
- Do 20 repetitions on the first side and then repeat on the opposite side for 2 to 3 sets.
Move 5: Lateral Lunge to Single-Leg Squat Reach-Down
Another move from ACE, the lateral lunge to single-leg squat reach-down helps to strengthen your internal hip rotation.
- Stand with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart.
- Step directly to the right, and as your right foot contacts the floor, make sure it is parallel with your left foot.
- Push the left hip back and reach for your right foot with your left hand.
- Push off with the right foot, while pressing the left foot into the floor to pull your body back to the start position.
- Once you are standing, balance on the left leg for three to four seconds.
- Push the left hip back and squat down to reach for the left foot with the right hand.
- Slowly return to your standing position.
- Complete 4 to 6 repetitions to the right before switching sides.
- Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets and complete 2 to 3 sets.
Read more: Hip External Rotation Exercises
- American Council on Exercise: "Muscles That Move the Leg"
- American Council on Exercise: "7 New Moves to Challenge Your Glutes and Hamstrings"
- NUHS Sports Medicine: "Squat With Rotation"
- Princeton University Athletic Medicine: "Pelvic Stabilization, Lateral Hip and Gluteal Strengthening Program"
- Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy: "Which Exercises Target the Gluteal Muscles While Minimizing Activation of the Tensor Fascia Lata? Electromyographic Assessment Using Fine-Wire Electrodes"
- Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies: "Effects of Mat Pilates on Hip and Knee Isokinetic Torque Parameters in Elderly Women"