Stretching Exercises for Hip Bursitis

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Young woman doing an abductor stretch. (Image: Jen Grantham/iStock/Getty Images)

Hip bursitis -- inflammation of fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning around bones -- is a painful condition that increases friction in your joints. Stretches decrease tightness in muscles that may be contributing to this condition. These exercises target muscles that move your leg at the hip joint. Stretches to help relieve hip bursitis are typically held for 20 to 30 seconds each and repeated several times per day.

Abductors and Adductors

Muscles called abductors run along the outside of your thigh and your leg out to the side from your hip joint. These muscles can be stretched in a standing position by crossing the unaffected leg in front of the painful leg, then leaning away from the painful hip until a stretch is felt along the outside of the hip. Adductor muscles move your leg inward and can be stretched in multiple positions. Standing with the legs more than shoulder-width apart, the knee on the noninjured side is slowly bent out to the side until a stretch is felt on the inner thigh of the affected leg.

Rotators

Tightness in the muscles that rotate your leg at the hip can contribute to bursitis. Muscles that rotate your leg inward can be stretched in a sitting position by resting the ankle of the affected leg on the thigh of the unaffected leg. Gently pressing down on the knee of the affected leg will increase the amount of stretch, which is felt in the buttocks. Muscles that rotate your leg outward can be stretched while lying on your back. The affected knee is bent toward your chest and gently pulled by the opposite arm toward the opposite shoulder. This stretch will also be felt in the buttocks.

Flexors and Extensors

Muscles that raise your leg toward the front of your body at the hip are called flexors. In a standing position, these muscles are stretched by bending the knee, bringing the heel toward your buttock, then grabbing the ankle with your hand. This stretch can also be performed lying on your side or stomach. Extensor muscles move your leg backward at the hip joint. These muscles can be stretched while standing, sitting or lying on your back. In a standing position, the heel of the affected leg is propped in front of the person on a small step. Keeping the knee straight, a stretch can be felt while slowly bending forward at the waist.

Low Back Stretches

Muscles that enable leg movement at the hip and low back muscles both attach to your pelvis. Tightness in your low back muscles may accompany hip muscle tightness and contribute to hip bursitis. Bringing both knees toward your chest while lying on your back will stretch these muscles. The amount of stretch can be increased by gently pulling your knees closer to your chest using your arms.

When to See Your Doctor

See your doctor if your symptoms do not improve within a few days. Further treatment, such as physical therapy or medications, may be needed to relieve your symptoms. If your hip pain occurs after a fall, seek medical attention so you can be checked for an injury in your thigh or pelvic bones.

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