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This is another post in our series of Fitness Saturday exercises, workouts, and expert tips appropriate to women in the second half of life. Jonathan Urla, a certified advanced health and fitness specialist, shares four exercises to help keep your hips healthy and mobile.


According to the latest national study, the prevalence of hip pain among older adults has increased over the years. But you probably knew this just from talking to your friends. I myself have developed pain in my hip that has grown worse as I age, and I know of six acquaintances in the last two years who had pain and restriction so bad that they needed surgery to replace one or both of their hips. This unfortunately, is not that uncommon. From 2000 – 2010, total hip replacements doubled, and the procedures are expected to increase 174% in the next 20 years.
To be sure, people living with chronic pain in their hips should definitely see an orthopedist to have a proper diagnosis and receive treatment. That said, there are many things we can do (and some things not to do) to help keep our hips healthy and strong. One of the things not to do is put your hips in extreme positions, as in some yoga poses. This can overstretch the ligaments of the hip joints and lead to instability and pain. Gentle yoga is the right kind of yoga for most adults, and even there it is important to listen to your body, not your ego. The key is to balance mobility, flexibility, and strength and not overdo it.

Here are four exercises to help keep your hips healthy and mobile.


1. Knee Stirs — Lying on your back, bring your knees into your chest and hold them with your hands. Let your legs be completely relaxed and gently pull your knees around in opposite circles 8 times, then reverse. Try to feel the legs moving freely in the hip sockets.


2.  Side Lying Leg Swings — Lay on your side on a thick exercise mat and prop yourself up on your elbow. Bend the leg underneath you and put your free hand on the mat in front. With moderate intensity, swing your top leg forward at hip height to a natural stop and then swing it easily back behind you, allowing the knee to bend. Your leg should feel loose not stiff. Keep your body stable as you freely swing the leg forward and back for 10 reps, trying not to let the swing of the leg move your hips or torso. Turn around to the other side and repeat with the other leg.


3. Bridge with Pelvic Lifts (A) and Circles (B) — A) Start lying on your back with your legs bent and feet parallel and flat on the floor and hip width apart. Curl your pelvis up so your buttocks are just barely off the floor. Hold for a breath and feel your buttocks engaged. Next, push down with your feet to raise your hips and torso up as high as you can, maintaining the pelvis curl and not arching up with your spine. At the top, you should feel a stretch in the front of your hips. With moderate intensity, pulse your hips up for 10-20 reps. B) From the bridge, lower your hips down to where they are just a few inches off the ground and release the pelvic curl so your buttock muscles are relaxed. Keeping your hips just a little off the floor, practice circling your pelvis 5 times one direction and 5 times the other way. Lower the hips to the floor and rest.


4.  Supine Knee Drop — From your back, bend your legs and place the feet apart slightly wider than the width of your hips. Keep your feet on the ground and your legs completely relaxed and just drop both knees over to the right. Allow your hips to twist passively with the legs, but try to keep both your shoulders flat on the ground. Notice how far your left leg can internally rotate. For a greater passive stretch, see if you can cross the right foot over the outside of your left thigh to add a little more internal rotation to the left leg. Hold the stretch for 3 full breaths. Uncross the right foot from the left leg and bring your legs back to straight up and down. Then drop the knees over to the left and repeat the stretch on the other side. [Note: this should not feel like a strain, but rather feel good as it stretches the outside of the thigh as well as mobilizes the leg inwardly. If you feel any strain at all in your hips or knees, don’t cross the foot over.]
These exercises are easy and can be done every day. Remember that our hips become stiff just from sitting. If you sit a lot, and doing the above exercises isn’t practical where you are, at least remember to stand every 30 minutes and do a minute or two of mobility exercises and some stretching to relieve the tension and increase circulation. Next week, I’ll show you some dandy office exercises for just this purpose. In the meantime, stay active and be well.


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  • maria October 24, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    beautiful! thanks juonattan! i need more to learn! and want do same work out with you… im live in brazil so .. do you give sutdy distance thanks i need your knwogles ,,, your are soo excelent instructor!