Living with osteoarthritis can push you toward a sedentary lifestyle, but the truth is regular low and medium-intensity exercise can help you maintain a supple and largely pain-free body, especially when paired with an anti-inflammatory diet.
In most cases, you don’t need to wait until you’re pain-free to start exercising and improving your mobility. While you should never push yourself past what your body tells you is your limit, you will find that a little exercise and doing stretches improves your symptoms. Here are 5 of the best exercises and stretches that will help you improve mobility and relieve pain.
5 Best Hip Osteoarthritis Exercises
1. Low-to-Moderate Intensity Aerobic Exercise
Low-to-moderate intensity aerobic exercise is one of the best forms of exercise for anyone, but especially for those with hip arthritis. It helps improve your cardiovascular health and boosts the circulation of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints.
What type of aerobic exercise is best depends entirely on your personal preferences and how you experience hip osteoarthritis. Here are some of the best:
- Walking and hiking
- Cycling (use an electric bike to reduce and control the difficulty if you live in a hilly area)
- Horseback riding
- Aerobic dance exercise, such as Zumba
- Yoga and pilates, just make sure it’s not too hard on the hips
Whatever you choose, make sure you start slowly and make it harder over time. Start with just 15 minutes and work your way up, increasing by 5 or 10 minutes a week. Vary the length of your exercise, both in time and distance, to ensure you do frequent, gentle sessions rather than working up to exercise that leaves you feeling sore for a few days. You may find that two short sessions a day work better for you than one.
2. Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
Stand next to a wall or chair for support. Then step one foot out in front or behind you, so you’re standing about hip-width apart. Slowly, bend both knees and sink down, keeping your back straight. Lower down as far as is comfortable, never letting your knee go past your toes, hold for 5 – 30 seconds, and then release. Repeat 6-12 times for 1-3 sets.
3. Knee Hug
Lie on a soft mat or your bed on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Raise one knee toward your chest and gently hug your knee to your chest with your hands. Hold it for as long as feels comfortable. Around 30 seconds will give you a deep, relaxing stretch. Release, and repeat with the other leg. To deepen the stretch, lay the other leg flat to the floor.
Lying down with your back to the floor, bend your knees, and keep your feet flat. Put your hands flat on the floor on either side of you, or tuck them underneath your lower back or butt. Slowly, shift your weight into your heels and raise your hips. Squeeze your butt at the top, and then slowly release. Don’t allow your knees to collapse in toward one another.
5. Hip Extension
Stand behind a chair and hold the back for support. With a straight spine, lift one leg behind you, keeping your leg straight and foot flexed. Lift it as high as you can behind you without arching your back, or bending your knee. Hold for 3 seconds, then release. Repeat 8-10 times on each leg. Do one leg at a time to make it more difficult, or alternate legs to reduce the difficulty.
Osteoarthritis is a condition you need to learn to work with and manage to maintain a high quality of life, so it’s well worth doing what you can to make exercise and stretching a part of your daily routine. Educate yourself on the best ways to maintain mobility. Our eBook, Joint Health 101 is one of the best places to start.It will help you not only learn the best stretches and exercises to manage your hips but all your other joints and muscles that are essential in supporting them. Click here to learn more or get your copy.