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Hip Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

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A woman lying on a yoga performs a double leg bridge.

As we age, our bodies can become weaker, we can lose our energy, and are more prone to falls and injuries. Regular stretching and exercising can help prevent these problems, even as we get older.

For seniors who are looking for extra support in improving their strength, flexibility, and stability, we’re compiled a list of exercises to target your hips and keep you on the move

Before Your Exercise, Remember to Stretch

Before you can strengthen your hips, it’s important to stretch your muscles and improve your flexibility. Always stretch before you exercise to protect yourself from injuries or strains. 

You should stretch every day, even if you aren’t doing exercises, to help improve your flexibility overall and prevent future aches and pains. 

Hip Flexor Stretch

The hip flexor stretch helps warm up your hips. Start in a lunge position with your front foot and your back knee firmly planted on the floor.

With your hands on your hips, move your pelvis forward until you feel a stretch. Imagine you’re trying to curl your hips into your stomach.

Hold that stretch for 5 – 10 seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat this 10 – 15 times per side.

Butterfly Stretch

The butterfly stretch is another great stretch to warm up and can improve your flexibility over time. Start sitting on the ground with your knees bent. Bring the soles of your feet together (the bottoms of your feet should be touching).

Let your knees fall to the side and bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you can. Slowly lean forward until you feel the tension in your muscles. Using your elbows, gently press down on your knees for more of a stretch. 

It’s completely normal for your knees to stay up when you first start doing this stretch. Don’t let that discourage you. As you practice, you should notice your flexibility and ability to do this stretch improve. 

Pigeon Pose

The pigeon pose is an amazing stretch to warm up your hips, glutes, and legs. This one might take some extra practice, but it’s worth it.

Start on all fours and bring one knee forward. Put your forward knee behind your wrist (same side) with your ankle near your opposite hip. 

Straighten your other leg straight back behind you and allow your torso to fold over your front leg. Imagine your front knee and head are pointing directly forward.

Hold this position for 10 – 15 seconds and switch sides. If your hips are a bit too tight to sit comfortably in this position, let your outer glute touch the floor (this would be the glute of your front leg). 

Breathe deeply and sink into the stretch. As you practice, this stretch should become easier over time. 

Clam Shells

Clam shells are a great way to strengthen your hips and improve flexibility. This easy exercise doesn’t require any equipment.

To perform clam shells, follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your side on an exercise mat or on carpet 
  2. Bend your knees at a 90° angle
  3. Keep your feet together & slowly raise your top knee*
  4. Squeeze your glutes & hold for 5 seconds 
  5. Lower your knee & repeat 10 – 15 times
  6. Switch sides & repeat 

We recommend doing clam shells at least 3 times per week. This will help strengthen your hips and glutes, improve your flexibility, and stabilize your lower back. This can help prevent aches and pains. 

* Imagine you’re opening your legs like a clam shell.

Single-Leg Bridge

A single-leg bridge is a bit of a trickier exercise, but can be very effective in strengthening your hips and glutes. 

To perform a single-leg bridge, follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your back on an exercise mat or on carpet 
  2. Bend one knee so your foot is flat on the ground
  3. Pull your other knee toward your chest 
  4. Push through your grounded foot to raise your hips upward
  5. Hold for 5 seconds & lower your hips 
  6. Repeat 10 – 15 times & switch sides

We recommend incorporating this exercise into your routine at least 3 times a week. This exercise can help stabilize your lower back by working your glutes and hips. 

Chair Squat

Chair squats are a lighter version of regular squats and can help improve your leg strength to stabilize your hips. All you need is a chair to do this exercise.

To perform a chair squat, follow these steps:

  1. Stand in front of a chair as if you’re going to sit in it 
  2. Move your feet shoulder-width apart 
  3. Slowly squat down until you can feel the chair under you
  4. Push through your heels back to standing
  5. Repeat 10 – 15 times 

We recommend doing chair squats 3 times every week to build the muscles in your lower body. You can practice this exercise every time you sit down for a meal.

If you find it helpful, you can also put your hands on your hips or out in front of you to help you balance while squatting. 

Hip Abduction

Hip abductions can improve the strength of your hip abductors. Your hip abductors include the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae (TFL). Hip abductors stabilize you while you walk or stand, and are responsible for your legs’ ability to move and rotate.

To perform hip abductions, follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your side on an exercise mat or on carpet 
  2. Keep your body in a straight line*
  3. Slowly raise your top leg upward (don’t bend your knee or rotate your leg)
  4. Hold for 5 seconds & lower your leg
  5. Repeat 10 – 15 times & switch sides 

We recommend doing this exercise 3 times per week, as well. 

* You can prop your head up on your hand if you find it more comfortable.

Hip Adduction

A man lying on his back on a yoga mat, performing hip adductors. one leg is extended on the ground, and he is pulling his opposite knee towards his chest.

Hip adductions can improve the strength of your hip adductors. Your hip adductors are a group of muscles in your inner thighs that help stabilize your lower body and pull your legs toward the body. These muscles also help your hip joints move. 

To perform hip adductions, follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your side on an exercise mat or on carpet 
  2. Bend your top knee at a 90° angle with your thigh straight out in front of you
  3. Keep your bottom leg straight
  4. Slowly raise your lower leg upward 
  5. Hold for 5 seconds & lower your leg
  6. Repeat 10 – 15 times & switch sides 

We recommend doing this exercise 3 times a week along with your hip abductions. Remember: it’s important to strengthen opposing muscles so they can work better together. 

Double Leg Bridge

The double leg bridge is an easier version of the single-leg bridge and is a great place to start if the single leg bridge is too difficult for you right now. 

To perform a double leg bridge, follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your back on an exercise mat or on carpet 
  2. Bend both your knees & place both feet flat on the ground
  3. Slowly raise your hips upward, pushing through your heels
  4. Hold for 5 seconds & lower again
  5. Repeat 10 – 15 times

We recommend adding this exercise to your routine 3 times a week, too. This exercise helps strengthen your glutes and hips, and stabilizes your lower back. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best thing you can do for your hips is to keep practicing these exercises. Even if it feels “weird” or “imperfect,” these exercises can help improve your strength, flexibility, and stability over time. 

Many seniors find it helpful to participate in group exercises to hold them accountable. Learn more about how our senior living communities can help promote a healthy lifestyle! 

Written by bentley

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