Hip arthritis can range from annoying to downright painful and debilitating. Since there’s no cure for arthritis, you may think that there’s nothing you can do to naturally relieve your pain. It’s a common assumption that you should refrain from exercise as it may make things worse. Fortunately, you do have natural options when it comes to hip arthritis pain relief, and they include certain yoga exercises. Read on to discover the best yoga poses to relieve hip arthritis.
What is Arthritis?
The most common type of arthritis affecting the hip joints is osteoarthritis. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease, osteoarthritis is a natural result of ageing. While people get it to widely varying degrees, most people over 60 have some form of osteoarthritis. In the simplest terms, it’s the wearing-down of protective cartilage in the joints. When that cartilage is worn down enough, the bone-on-bone rubbing that occurs can cause stiffness, pain, and limited mobility.
But it’s not just limited to people over 60. Nearly any adult can suffer from osteoarthritis, but it’s more common in athletes, dancers, and people who have suffered a joint injury. It’s also more common in overweight people and those with poor posture.
How Can Yoga Help Hip Arthritis?
First off, regularly practicing yoga can help you look and feel younger. It’s no secret that yoga is excellent for all-around health and energy, not to mention mood and well-being. It can also help hip arthritis in a number of ways.
- Yoga can help you build strength around the hips, stabilizing the joints and providing some relief from arthritis pain.
- Yoga can release endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-killers.
- Yoga can help you maintain a healthy weight, which keeps extra pressure off of the joints.
- Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise, meaning it doesn’t put undue strain on your joints.
“In fact, yoga is proven to help people with arthritis improve many physical symptoms like pain and stiffness, and psychological issues like stress and anxiety.”
-Susan Bernstein, Arthritis Foundation
But not all yoga poses can help. Although yoga poses are low-impact, there are still some that may cause pain in your hips or other joints. This is why we’ve gathered the exercises below, which should all help ease arthritis symptoms in your hips. However, if any of the poses do cause pain, stop doing them and choose poses that aren’t painful.
If you’re unsure about what’s causing your hip pain, or you’re hesitant to try yoga, you may want to see a physician or a chiropractor. A chiropractic hip adjustment can be very beneficial for hip pain caused by arthritis and many other issues. Plus, it’s always a good idea to speak to a healthcare professional before making any big changes in your lifestyle.
Best Yoga Poses to Relieve Hip Arthritis
If you have a yoga mat, get it ready. If not, you can do these poses on carpet or another type of exercise mat.
A good option for gently opening up the hips, child’s pose can ease you into some of the more involved poses below.
- Start on all fours, your hands under your shoulder and knees under your hips. Position your knees comfortably apart, but keep your big toes touching.
- Exhale and bring your hips back gently to rest on your feet while keeping your hands on the floor, allowing your arms and shoulder to stretch as you settle back.
- Bring your forehead to the floor, resting it gently between your outstretched arms, allowing your torso to rest on your thighs. Breathe deeply.
- You should feel this stretch your hips as you hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The wider your knees, the more intense the stretch.
For gently externally rotating your hips. This is a beginner pose, but may be difficult for those who spend most of their time sitting in chairs.
- Sit on your mat with legs extended in front of you.
- Bring your left leg in first, then your right leg, so your knees are over your feet.
- Situate your pelvis so it’s straight, allowing you to lengthen your spine.
- Place your hands on your knees but pull your shoulders back to open up your chest and sit up straight. Pull your belly button gently toward your spine, engaging your abs.
- Keep your chin level with the floor and your back straight.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, breathing deep, natural breaths.
Happy Baby Pose
This is a good pose for stretching, opening, and bringing awareness to the hip joints.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Keeping your back and head on the floor, exhale and bring your knees to your chest.
- Inhale and grab the outsides of the soles of your feet, bringing your knees to your armpits, allowing them to flare wider than your chest. Your tailbone should still be touching the floor, your hips relaxed.
- Breathe deeply while gently pulling on your feet to open up the hips and increase the stretch. Your feet should face the ceiling and stay positioned directly over your knees for this exercise.
- Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Mountain Pose (Variation)
This pose is good for hip stability. You’ll need a yoga block or some other item you can place your foot on approximately 3 to 5-inches off the floor.
- Stand with one foot on the block, and the other next to it in the air.
- Hold the position, keeping the hips level and straight. Don’t allow your free foot to drag you down. For this, you’ll need to engage the opposite hip.
- Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.
Warrior 2 Pose
After you’ve opened up the hips, you can try this hip-strengthening pose.
- Begin by standing with your feet together on the mat, your whole body facing forward.
- With your right foot, take a big step back, placing the foot down behind you, but at a slight angle. Your left foot should stay facing forward.
- Inhale, raise your arms, bring them in line with your shoulders, and lengthen your spine while slightly engaging your leg muscles.
- Exhale and bend your left knee, allowing your hips to sink down so that your thigh is slightly above parallel to the floor. Your left knee should be directly over your foot. Your right leg should remain straight.
- Try to keep your hips in line with your shoulders and your spine straight as you hold this pose for 10 to 30 seconds, breathing deeply.
- To come out of the pose, straighten your left knee to come up, and then step your back foot in.
- Repeat 6 to 10 times, alternating legs.
“Yoga not only safely exercises the muscles, ligaments, and bones in and around the joints, but also triggers a relaxation response that can help reduce pain and improve functioning.”
– Sharon Kolasinski, Rheumatologist
This last pose is widely considered to be the best for stretching the hips, but it’s not the easiest pose to do. Take caution and don’t push yourself beyond what you can comfortably do.
- Start on all fours, hips over knees and shoulders over hands.
- Bring your left knee toward your left wrist and angle your shin towards your right hip.
- Gently place your knee and ankle on the mat as you slide your right leg back with your knee straight on the mat and your toes pointing behind you.
- Try to keep your hips level and straight. You can put a towel or blanket under the left side of your bottom to help you do this.
- Inhale and stretch your spine upwards as you bring the weight off your hands and let your hips take most of it.
- As you exhale, walk your hands out in front of you. The ultimate goal is to be able to rest your forearms and head on the mat in front of you, but this makes the stretch intense. Go as far forward as you’re comfortable, feeling the stretch in the left hip.
- Take deep breaths in the forward position for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Slowly reverse the movement to come out of it.
- Repeat on the right side.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. Besides chiropractic care, his practice has also treated thousands of Anchorage patients from different health problems through physical therapy. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.