Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects various joints in the body including the hips. One of the most common subtypes of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a disease in which cartilage breaks down, causing bones to rub against each other and leading to joint pain and stiffness.
If you have arthritis or osteoarthritis of the hip, pain can stop you from exercising. However, this is actually worse for your arthritis as regular exercise is necessary to help:
- Strengthen your muscles
- Improve your balance
- Make joints of hips more stable
- Stop muscle atrophy (deterioration)
These are the exercises you can benefit from if you have arthritis of the hip.
1. Low-impact exercises
These exercises are best for beginners, as they are gentle on your knees and not too strenuous. They include:
- Walking. Walking outdoors is a great way to get exercise in. If you have problems with balance, then you can walk on a treadmill as it allows you to hold on. You should be walking comfortably and at a pace at which you can talk easily. Grab a friend or a family member and go for a walk.
- Stationary bike. Biking on a stationary bike allows you to slowly build your muscle strength, is gentle on your joints and allows you to go at a pace at which you are comfortable, unlike biking outdoors. You can also stop whenever you want when you feel strained.
- Swimming. Swimming in a pool is a moderate workout and is great for the joints as it eases the stress they're under. You can also walk in water that is up to your waist, as it is good for your joints and adds just enough resistance to build muscles. This can really help improve the functioning of your hips.
- Yoga. Yoga is a great exercise that can help increase the flexibility of joints, make muscles stronger and reduce pain. However, some yoga positions are more strenuous so make sure to take beginner classes and work your way up from there. Stop if you feel pain.
- Tai Chi. The slow movements that are part of Tai chi, an ancient Chinese exercise, can help improve pain and balance for patients with arthritis. It can also help reduce stress.
- Water aerobics. Similar to swimming, conducting aerobics in water is easy on the joints and helps build muscle.
2. Muscle strengthening exercises
It is important for patients with arthritis to have strong muscles, as it helps improve balance of your hips and helps make up for weak joints. This can be achieved using strength training, though you should not do strength training more than two times a week. These are some of the best strength training exercises:
- Chair stand. Put a chair against the wall and sit at the front of your chair with feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms, put your hands on your shoulders and recline back. Then, bring your upper body forward and slowly stand. Then, sit back down to the original position. Do this six times, and slowly go up to 12 times.
- Bridge. Lie with your back on the floor, keep your knees bent and feet on the floor. Then, put your hands down by your thighs. Keeping a straight back, lift your butt as high as possible off the floor. Balance using your hands. Then, come back down to the floor. Do this four to six times.
- Hip extension. Use the back of chair to balance yourself, then bend forward and lift the right leg (and then left leg) straight behind you so that you feel your butt getting tight. Keep it as high as possible without bending the knee. Do this four to six times on each side.
3. Flexibility exercises
Gentle exercises that help improve flexibility and range-of-motion can also help improve mobility and decrease joint stiffness. Here are some great exercises that help flexibility:
- Inner leg stretch. Sit down, bend your knees and have the soles of your feet touch each other. Then hold your shin, bend forward, and press down your knees with your elbows. Do this for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Hip and lower back stretch. Lie back with your legs stretched out, put your neck on the floor, turn your chin towards your chest, bend your knee, and hold the knees with your hands. Then, pull your knees upwards as much as you can can.
- Double hip rotation. Lie on your back, bend your knees, and keep your feet flat. Keep your shoulder on the floor and bring your knees down while your head is on the other side. Then, do it again for the opposite knee.
4. Balance exercises
Balance exercises are important for patients with arthritis of the hip, and should be done three times a week. Improving your balance can help reduce your risk of having a fall and make you more secure when you walk. Exercises that help improve balance include tai chi, standing on one foot, and slowly walking backward.
5. Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise is good for your overall health and fitness, but it is important to not overstress your joints. Examples of aerobic exercises include speed walking, intensive swimming, stationary bike and aerobic dance.