At Home Hip Exercises

By: Laura Lando, DPT

Hey guys, I hope everybody is doing ok at home. I escaped and I’m at the clinic! It feels good to get into a routine. We have the clinic open only to our team so that we can come in to do video sessions or for a workout, one at a time cleaning up after ourselves. Today I wanted to go through my favourite hip strengthening exercises with you. These are fantastic exercises for those of you who are looking to ramp up your spring running routine. They’re also great for women who are pregnant (who have been cleared to exercise). I’ll be demonstrating them so you can see that they’re completely doable, and great for keeping your pelvis and related structures super strong. Without further ado, let’s get started!

The first two exercises I’m going to show you are on the ground – I’ll be using a yoga mat. These are great for building foundational hip strength. I’m a big fan of doing functional exercises where you’re upright as they are more relative to the demands of daily life, but these ground exercises are really important for making sure that you have strength before moving to more difficult ones. We’re going to start with a bridge exercise. You could put a pillow under your back if you felt more comfortable doing so. You’re going to lay back flat, then raise up into a bridge, making sure that you’re not extending through your lower back. You want to be in a fairly neutral position here. Then you’re going to straighten out one leg. You should feel a ton of work in your supporting leg. Try to keep your pelvis level, don’t let one side of your pelvis drop. If this exercise doesn’t feel too bad, you can add a drop and drive on one hip, trying to come back up to the same level each time.

The second exercise you can do on the floor is a side plank. There are lots of variations on the side plank that you can do. We’re going to start with the most basic side plank, then progress to the most difficult. The most basic side plank starts with your knees down. You’re going to come up into just a hold with your knees together and your elbow right under your shoulder. This will require you to have some shoulder strength as well. If that’s not bad, you can lift one knee, keeping your other knee bent. The next mini level would be straightening your leg out. If that’s not bad, kick things up another notch with a little hip drop and a little hip drive. That’s probably my difficulty level right now, but I’ll show you the next level. We’re going to go into a full plank on your side, and then add a leg lift.

Getting up off the ground, our next exercise is a wall squat with a press, also called a fire hydrant. This one is great because all you need is a wall. You’re going to stand on one foot so your outer leg is the one that’s doing the work. The leg you’re standing on is going to push into the wall, so your knee is pushing into the wall. Now, if I had a front angle going at the same time, you could see I’m trying to keep my knee in line with my fourth, fifth toe. It’s not pushed way out and it’s not caving inwards. A good cue is if your big toe is staying in contact with the ground as you do this. Start by pressing your knee into the wall. To be honest that might be just hard enough for some people. If you’re in a little bit of a hinge and you can feel it in your glute, then that’s fine you can hold there. Or, if you want a little more of a challenge, you can take it into a squat. You’re going to squat, and come up. Squat, and come up. I’m trying to maintain a level pelvis as I go down so it’s not sinking.

From there I’ll roll right into what’s called a bowler squat or a skater squat. This one will require you to have balance on one leg. If you don’t then you can hold a wall, hold a stick, hold anything stable. You’re going to stand on one leg, reach behind you into a little squat, and drive back up. The leg that’s down is the one that’s really getting the work with this. I like to have my arms going in the pattern of what it would be like if you were running. Remember to switch legs as well

The last one that I’m going to show you is an RDL (Russian Deadlift). We’re going to do it on a single leg with a little kettlebell. It’s important that you’re using good hinge form. You’re going to go into a hinge, just to make sure you have your form right first. From there, you can move to one leg – you have a few variations to choose from here. You could do a single leg RDL with a kickstand on the other side so that you are not feeling unbalanced. Still maintaining a nice hinge in your back. Make sure your breathing pattern is good – inhale down, exhale up. Or you can move on to one leg if your balance is ok, back leg is up. You’re trying to keep your pelvis as square to the ground as possible, so you’re not lifting your top hip in the air. That’s your single leg RDL.

So that gives you five exercises to work on. If you go through those, you do your three sets, eight to twelve reps, add a little load when it’s easy, you should get a good hip workout! Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay at home. We hope to see you either on screen or in person soon. Take care!