Our 9 Favorite Exercises for Knee and Hip Pain
Are you experiencing stiffness or even pain when walking, running, taking the stairs, sitting, standing, or lying down? Well, you don’t need to give up your exercise plan just yet. There’s good news: With a few simple exercises for knee pain and hip pain, you can be back on track relatively quickly.
What Causes Knee and Hip Pain?
As the overall population continues to age, around 50% of adults will experience some kind of knee or hip pain. That means joint mobility is a bigger deal than ever before. Wear and tear over the years, coupled with obesity, generally sedentary lifestyles, insufficient exercise habits, and poor stretching habits all contribute to the situation.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the Osteoarthritis Research Society International recommends a regular training program, including resistance training, aerobic training, water-based exercises, and flexibility protocols, as part of a comprehensive program to combat both knee and hip pain, as well as other joint issues.
The IT Band and Its Role in Joint Pain
What is the “IT” band? The iliotibial band (dubbed “IT” band for short) is a connective tissue that runs from your hip all the way down the side of your leg to your knee. It is infamous for becoming tight and painful and is quite often the culprit when it comes to knee and hip pain.
Overuse can cause this tissue to tighten, meaning greater inflammation, irritation, and even misalignment of the hips and knees. Keeping this area supple and stretched is recommended. So, keep up with your stretches and foam roll whenever you have the chance.
Try These Exercises for Knee Pain and Hip Pain
If you can fit some of these exercises into your weekly fitness routine, you should feel improvement in no time, and your hips and knees will thank you. Basically, any stretching you can do to help loosen the muscles is bound to help relieve tightness and pain.
1. Lying Knee Bend Hip Openers
Start by lying down on a comfortable surface with your legs outstretched and your arms by your sides. Bend your right leg and bring your knee upward as you slide your foot along the floor. Once your leg is fully bent, allow your leg to slowly drop out to your right side, opening up your hips.
Hold this position for a few moments before bringing your leg back upright again and slowly sliding your foot back down alongside your leg until it is fully outstretched. Then repeat on the opposite side.
2. Glute Bridges
Start by lying on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms alongside your body with your palms down. Lift your hips off the ground, squeezing your glutes as hard as you can. Your body should form a straight line at the top of the movement. Release and lower. Repeat.
3. Excellent Thigh and Hip Stretches
This will require a chair and perhaps some surface to help you balance. First, stand in front of a chair and bend your right leg up behind you, placing the back of your foot onto the seat. Next, grab onto a surface for stabilization if you need it as you start bending your left knee to lower your body slightly until you begin to feel a stretch through the front of your right thigh. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
4. Leg Extensions
You can do these in a chair if you don’t have access to a gym, but a leg extension machine is ideal for this exercise as you will benefit from adding weight to this movement. Sit on the machine and place your feet behind the padded arm. Simultaneously straighten your legs, bringing the weight up in front of you. Hold the top of the movement for a count of five and then return to the start. Repeat.
5. Hip Abductions
Stand with your feet together and your hands clasped in front of you (or holding on to a stable surface). Lift your right foot off the floor and bring your straight leg out to your right side, controlling the movement. Bring it back to the start, tapping your toe and repeat ten times in a row before switching to the opposite leg. To make it more challenging, you can add a resistance band.
6. Bodyweight Squats
These will help stabilize and strengthen your entire lower body. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Push your hips out behind you as you bend at the knees, lowering your body toward the floor. Keep your knees in line with your toes as you bend and your head and torso as upright as possible as you perform the movement. Once in the full squat position, push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to help propel you back up to standing. Repeat 10 times.
7. Crossover Forward Folds
This great stretch will also help you address tight IT bands. Stand with your feet together. Lift your right leg and bring your right foot over and onto the other side of your left foot so that your legs are crossed. Next, allow your body to bend forward at the hips and bring your hands to your toes (if you can). If you can’t, this is a definite area you can work on! Hold this hanging stretch for 20 seconds and then repeat by crossing your left foot over your right foot.
In addition, try these pieces of exercise equipment that are generally easier on the joints if you’re looking for some cardio options besides walking and swimming:
8. Elliptical Trainers
These machines move in a circular motion allowing for movement without hard stops that can put too much pressure on the joints.
9. Exercise Bikes
There are many kinds to choose from, including upright, spin bikes, and recumbent bikes. Or, if your fitness facility offers choices, why not mix it up?