Do you suffer from hip pain? Our hip joints do a lot for us. Not only do they help us to simply move, but they also help us carry out activities such as running, sports and HIIT classes. This means they go through impact which can cause pain if the joint and surrounding tissues are not able to cope with the load.

The hip joint is a very stable and strong joint and is known as a ball-and-socket joint (the top of the thigh bone is shaped like a ball and the ‘ball’ sits inside a hollow socket in your pelvis) which gives the most movement out of all joints in the body.

The hip joint is held together by a covering of muscles which are secured to the bones by tendons which help to support the joint and its movements and a cushion of cartilage helps prevent friction as the hip bone moves in its socket.

In today’s modern society, hip pain is a common issue. Millions of people suffer from hip pain, sometimes in different areas of the hips. This can depend of the tissues involved, for example, Piriformis Syndrome (restriction and irritation from deep muscle) causes pain in the back and side of the hip joints, while a psoas (hip flexor) strain can cause pain in front of the hip. Chronic hip pain can also be caused by osteoarthritis, as the cartilage in the joint starts to change as we age.

This is where Clinical Pilates can help with hip pain.

In this article, we’ll be discussing:

  • What are the causes of hip pain?
  • Is Pilates good for hip pain?
  • What are the best Pilates exercises for hip pain
  • Why you should do Pilates for hip pain

What Are The Causes Of Hip Pain?

Because the hip joint is a complex joint, as outlined above, there are several potential causes of hip pain and its important to understand the underlying problem to be able to treat it effectively.

One reason for hip pain is over exercising. If that’s the case then this can be caused by a strain, inflammation or overload of the tendons. This often happens when you have a muscle imbalance.

Referred pan is another cause of hip pain. If you feel pain in the knee then this can be caused by a hip problem – this is essentially known as referred pain. If you have pain outside of your hip or in your glute muscles for example, this can also be a sign of a problem with the lower back.

Hip pain can also be caused by shortened hip-flexors, due to prolonged sitting on chairs or muscular tension from imbalanced walking patterns. With our lives tending to be spent sitting for long periods this is becoming more of a problem.

There are also causes within the hip joint itself that can occur such as osteoarthritis or impingement that would be picked up on Xray or scans.

Is Pilates Good For Hip Pain?

Pilates is an excellent way to help ease discomfort in the hip which can be caused by issues involving muscles, ligaments or tendons surrounding the joint, the joint itself, or even referred from the lower back.

The Benefits Of Pilates For Hip Pain

  • Increases flexibility and builds strength in the surrounding hip muscles, such as the hip flexors, which allow you to lift your knees and bend forward from your hips.
  • The smooth movements in Pilates helps to improve range of movement and mobility in the hip joint and can help with pain relief and prevent joint stiffness
  • Strengthens the core and glute muscles which helps to create stability around the abdominal, pelvic and hip region.
  • Improves injury recovery
    Prevents further injury as you gain a better understanding of the pelvic alignment.

What Are The Best Pilates Exercises For Hip Pain

There are a number of Pilates exercises to help our hips remain more relaxed, comfortable and moving freely.

Below are four simple Pilates exercises for hip pain to help you manage symptoms and help alleviate some of the discomfort,

However, if you have any injuries that are being treated by a doctor or physio, always consult with them before trying any new exercises. If a movement causes pain or discomfort, it is best to stop and consult a qualified Clinical Pilates Practitioner or your physiotherapist.

1. Femur arcs or toe taps!

These are great classic Pilates exercise for getting the movement of your hips to be smooth and controlled as well as linking in with your abdominal muscles which is essential.

If you find that your hips click when you do this, then reduce the range by starting with your feet on a low step or chair and then gradually increasing it as you get stronger.

How to do the Pilates femur arc

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet in line with hips
  • Find your relaxed neutral position of the pelvis
  • Press one foot down into the floor and allow the other foot to hover off the floor
  • Lift the knee up towards you keeping the knee angle at 90 degrees
  • Take a breath and then lower the leg back down to the start position
  • Repeat this on alternate sides

Femur arc Pilates exercise tips!

  • Imagine you are sucking the thigh bone into the hip joint throughout the movement.
  • Time it with your breathing, breathe out to lift and in to lower, try switching the breath and feel which works best for you.
  • Keep your spine stable and make the movement come from the hip joint.
  • The lowering is active as well, imagine you are pressing the back of your thigh against resistance as you tap the toe down.

2. Side lying glutes

Your gluteal muscles are really important when it comes to supporting your hips. This video shows you how to progress from doing this lying down flat to coming up gradually and including more of your core muscles.

Eventually we want these working well in standing and this exercise is a great preparation for that.

How to do the Pilates side lying glutes

  • Lie on your side with a pillow under your head This position can be progressed to being up on your elbow as you get stronger and to include the rest of your body more – see the video.
  • With the underneath knee bent reach the top leg straight away from you so your toe is reaching in opposite direction to the crown of your head.
  • Keep reaching the leg as you hover the foot off the floor
  • Lift the leg up only as far as you can without losing the neutral pelvis position and without hitching your hip up towards you.
  • Slowly lower down and repeat.

Side lying glutes Pilates exercise tips;

  • Keep the top leg lengthening away from you to keep the waist straight
  • Imagine your heel on the top leg is sliding up and down a wall behind you so that keep the hip towards slight extension to keep the glutes working
  • Maintain the alignment of the rest of your spine including your neck!

3. Single leg bridge

This is the ultimate Pilates strength exercise for your hips and you need to be able to do this well to walk or run efficiently.

How to do the single leg bridge

  • Lie on your back with feet on the floor
  • Float one leg up to the table top position
  • Press the other foot into the floor and allow your hips to lift
  • Let the hips lead and lift towards the ceiling keeping the upper body relaxed
  • Take a breath at the top and slowly lower down
  • Repeat X 5 each side

Single leg bridge Pilates exercise tips;

  • Imagine the heel on the floor is pulling towards your bottom, this will get the hamstrings working
  • Let the ribs relax and just follow the hips
  • Imagine the top knee is reaching towards the ceiling and almost helping to lift you up, this may help to keep the abdominals engaged
  • This is hard! If you find you are cramping or cannot do it, go back to double leg bridges, try just lifting one foot when you are at the top and progress slowly with the range of movement on one leg.

How To Do The Hip Flexor Pilates Stretch Exercise

  • Kneel on one knee with the other bent in a 90-degree angle
  • Tuck your tailbone under and drive your hip forward, maintaining a straight back and leaning your torso forward.
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Repeat two-five times with each leg

Hip Flexor Pilates Stretch Exercise Tips

  • Remember your pelvic tilt!
    Understanding your pelvic tilt and how it increases your stretch will make you feel this movement much more in your thigh.
  • Stay upright
    Try not to lean backwards. Stack your ribs over your pelvis and move the pelvis only.
  • Use a wall
    Use a wall or a chair for support rather than struggle with your balance.

Pilates Exercises That Should Be Avoided For Hip Pain

Because the causes for hip pain are varied the things to avoid will depend on you and your specific problem. If you find there are exercises that cause you to feel the pain more or cause catching in the hip joint it is best to avoid them until you have spoken to a physiotherapist or clinical Pilates instructor.

If your hip pain continues to affect your daily living, you should consider seeing a physiotherapist or clinical Pilates expert who can provide you with safe modifications and exercises to improve and reduce your pain.

Why Should You Consider Pilates If You Have Hip Pain?

Pilates is perfect for anyone who suffers with hip pain as it increases flexibility, improves range of movement and mobility in the hip joint and can also help prevent an injury from occurring.

At Complete Pilates we offer 1:1 programmes to help you reach specific goals. So, whether you are recovering from a specific hip injury or you are looking to improve the mobility and range of motion in your hips, we can provide you with a Pilates plan to help.

If you are worried about starting a new exercise we would always recommended you speak to your GP or physio, or clinical Pilates instructor here at Complete Pilates who are all trained to safely treat and create manageable plans to keep you healthy.

Get in touch online or contact us on 0203 764 5668 for further information and advice!

Education is key:

These blogs are designed to give information to everyone, however, it is important to remember that everyone is different! If you have not seen one of our therapists and have any questions about injuries, what you have read or whether this may be useful to you, please just ask.

At Complete Pilates we would advise you to always speak to your doctor, physiotherapist, or clinical Pilates instructor here at Complete Pilates if you are worried about starting a new exercise regime.
We are more than happy to help anyone and point you in the right direction. Our biggest belief is that education is key. The more you understand about your injury, illness and movement, the more you are likely to improve.