Hip Bursitis Exercises and Yoga Poses for Pain Relief

Hip bursitis exercises and yoga poses for pain reliefHip bursitis exercises and hip bursitis yoga can be effective treatments for people who experience pain and discomfort associated with bursitis. Combined with the right amount of rest, hip bursitis exercises can help reduce inflammation and improve sleep, work, and play.

It is not uncommon for people who suffer from hip bursitis to struggle with pain that impacts their sleep, their ability to work and their ability to enjoy their favorite physical activities.


The hip has several small sacs that act as cushions. They are called bursae. When an injury or overuse occurs to the hip, bursa can get inflamed. If left untreated, hip bursitis can lead to scar tissue and further pain.

What Exercises to Do for Hip Bursitis

A doctor or physiotherapist will be able to tell you when it is safe for you to start exercises for your hip bursitis. When you start an exercise routine, you should do it slowly and back off if you feel pain.

The following are some of the most commonly applied exercises for hip bursitis:

Hip Rotator Stretch

This is one of the best stretching exercises for hip bursitis. You simply lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place the ankle of your injured leg on your opposite thigh near the knee. Take your hand and gently push your knee away from your body until you feel a stretch around your hip. You should hold this stretch for anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds and then repeat it.

Iliotibial Band Stretch

For this exercise, you lean sideways against a wall. Standing on the injured leg, cross your other leg in front of it. Allow your injured hip to drop out to the side and against the wall and then lean away from your affected hip so you feel a stretch. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat two to four times.

Straight-Leg Raises

As hip bursitis exercises go, this might be the one you recognize most. Physiotherapists often recommend straight leg raises, or as some people call it, “lateral leg” raises. This exercise begins with you lying on your side with the affected hip on top. You need to keep your hip and your leg straight in line with your body and keep your knee pointing downward, but don’t drop your hip back. Lift your top leg straight up toward the ceiling, hold for about five seconds, and then slowly lower your leg. You can repeat this move 8 to 12 times.


This requires you to lie on your side with your injured hip on top and your head propped up on a pillow. Keeping your feet and knees together and your knees bent, now raise your top knee, keeping your feet together. Your legs should open up like a clamshell. Hold for up to six seconds, lower your knee back down, and rest for a few seconds before repeating the exercise.

Flexor and Extensor Stretch

Flexor muscles move your leg toward the front of your body at the hip, while extensor muscles move your leg backward at the hip. In a standing position, prop the affected leg in front of you on a small step. While keeping the knee straight, a stretch can be felt as you slowly bend forward at the waist.

Low Back Stretches

Lying on your back and bringing both knees toward your chest will stretch the lower back. Tight muscles in the lower back have been linked to hip muscle tightness, so this simple stretch often helps.

Lying Leg Circles

This hip exercise will work the hip flexors and gluteal muscles. Lying flat on your back with your legs extended, elevate your leg about three inches off the ground and then make circles. Remember to keep the whole leg straight. Switch legs and repeat. You should try to perform three sets of five rotations on each leg.

Exercises to Avoid for Hip Bursitis

There are exercises that you may have to avoid altogether. If you have pain, you might have to ask a physiotherapist about modifying your exercise routine.

Some people find that various cardiovascular, strengthening, and stretching exercises pose a problem. Check out the list below for hip bursitis exercises to avoid.

  • Cardiovascular: Activities like running and jumping can put a lot of pressure on the hip joint. Repeated bending at the hip, such as climbing stairs, using a rowing machine, or cycling should also be avoided.
  • Strengthening: Lunges and squats are both examples of strengthening exercises, and much like cardiovascular exercises, they can put stress on the joint, leading to irritation.
  • Contact Sports: Any activity that calls for pivoting or twisting movements can make the hip joint vulnerable to injury. If you have been diagnosed with hip bursitis, it’s best to refrain from participating in contact sports like football, rugby, and wrestling that can put further stress on the hip or that could result in a direct blow to the hip joint.
  • Stretches: Any stretching that requires you to spread your legs wide open or bend far forward should be avoided. One example of this is toe touches. Exercises that call for you to swing the leg across the body or bring the knee past hip level can also cause problems.

Yoga Poses for Hip Bursitis

From specific exercises to hip bursitis yoga, there are many ways you can engage your flexors, glutes, and hamstrings that also impact the hip area. The hip bridge pose is among some of the best yoga poses for hip bursitis, but the list below includes a few different moves to consider when you suffer from hip pain.

  • Bridge Pose: The first step is to lie flat on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. You then push your heels down and raise your hips. Hold this pose for four or five breaths and slowly release to the ground.
  • Pigeon Pose: This seated pose calls for you to begin on your hands and feet and then bring your right knee forward, placing it close to the back of your right wrist. Carefully slide your left leg back, straightening your knee and pointing your toe. Lower your right hip down while opening the leg so your knee is pointing toward the wall. Keep your left leg straight out behind you. Hold for a few breaths and then push your hands up, lifting your hips and bringing your hands and knees back to all fours. You can repeat this on the left side.
  • Half Lord of the Fishes Pose: With this yoga pose, you really should feel a stretch in your hip muscles. Sit on a mat and cross your right foot over your left thigh. Your right knee needs to be bent while your left leg is straight. Carefully turn your body to the right and put your right hand on the floor behind you. Essentially, you are twisting your torso. You can use your left arm to hug your bent knee as it helps provide leverage for the twist. Hold this pose for four or five breaths and release.
  • Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose): This is known to help relax muscles. You sit on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you and then bend your left leg, placing it under your right buttock. Now fold your right leg and place it over your left thigh. Both of your knees should be close together since they are stacked. Fold your left arm and place it behind your back and take your right arm over your right shoulder. Reach until you meet your left hand. Hold the post as long as you can while you breathe deeply.


Yoga for hip bursitis can be effective, but it is a form of exercise so it should also be discussed with a doctor prior to you starting a routine.

Hip pain is common and is due to different causes. It has a tendency to happen more in certain age groups. For instance, the young (0-15 years old) and people over the age of 45 are more likely to report hip pain. It can be caused by an injury, normal wear and tear as we age, or it can be the result of an inflammatory condition. While exercise and yoga can help, follow-up care is an important part of both safety and overall treatment. If you suffer from hip bursitis, make sure you continue to see your doctor for follow-up care.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.



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