Hip Arthritis: Exercises To Avoid

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Hip arthritis is when the cartilage in the hip joint deteriorates or is injured, causing the bone surfaces to grind against one another and become rough.
  • Hip arthritis usually affects older adults but can also occur due to injury or genetic predisposition.
  • Hip arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Some low-impact exercises can help mitigate these symptoms.
  • You should avoid high-impact exercises and deep hip flexion, which can cause further damage and worsen hip arthritis symptoms.

Exercising with Hip Arthritis

Hip arthritis is a medical condition that results from deterioration or damage to a person’s hip joint. As a result, the bone surfaces in the joint grind against each other and become rough. This common condition limits the affected individual’s mobility, causes pain, and hinders their day-to-day routines. 

However, incorporating specific exercises into your treatment plan can help you manage your hip arthritis, improve joint health, and slow the condition’s progression. Strategic, targeted physical activity can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip joint, which can improve flexibility, reduce pain, and mitigate stiffness.

Nevertheless, some exercises can be counterproductive and exacerbate the symptoms of hip arthritis. Usually, workouts that involve high-impact movement, such as running or jumping, can put too much stress on the hip joint and worsen arthritis symptoms. Additionally, exercises that require deep hip flexion or rotation, such as leg presses or deep squats, can increase inflammation and aggravate hip pain.

Learning about the inner workings of hip arthritis and which exercises to avoid is vital to managing symptoms and preventing further joint damage. For individualized guidance, consult a healthcare professional or licensed physical therapist to create a personalized exercise program tailored to your needs and limitations.

What Causes Hip Arthritis?

There are several types of hip arthritis with different causes, ranging from standard wear and tear to blood and bone conditions. Pinpointing the origin of your hip arthritis will help you understand how to work around your condition and augment your joint health. As a reference, the following forms of arthritis are the most common.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of hip arthritis. In fact, one in four people is projected to experience symptomatic hip OA at some point in their lives. This form of arthritis is a degenerative joint disease. OA is usually caused by wear and tear from aging and typically worsens over time.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) typically affects smaller joints, such as the ones in the hands, wrists, and knees, simultaneously; however, it can also affect the hip. RA results from the immune system attacking healthy tissue within the joints, sparking inflammation.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a negative product of psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that usually affects the skin and nails. Sometimes, psoriasis sparks joint inflammation throughout the body, including the hip region, and turns into psoriatic arthritis.

Post-Traumatic Hip Arthritis

Post-traumatic hip arthritis is generated by blunt trauma to the hip during events like a fall, car crash, or sport-related injury. This form of hip arthritis can show up years after the inceptive injury has healed because of the lasting effects of cartilage damage or the misalignment of the hip joint.

Avascular Necrosis

Avascular necrosis is when a bone temporarily or permanently loses blood supply, causing the bone tissue to die and collapse. A severe form of hip arthritis can occur when avascular necrosis affects the femoral head, the ball-shaped part of the hip joint, making it buckle and lose shape.

If you are experiencing joint pain in your hip region, it could be one of the many forms of hip arthritis. Be sure to consult a qualified medical professional to determine which form of hip arthritis you have and to get a specialized treatment plan to minimize your joint pain.

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Hip Arthritis Symptoms

Since there are so many different causes and forms of hip arthritis, each person may feel a different variation of symptoms. In general, most hip arthritis symptoms affect mobility, strength, and comfort. 

The following symptoms are the most common telltale signs of hip arthritis:

  • Pain within or around the hip – Many hip arthritis sufferers experience an ache, throbbing, or sharp pain that worsens with specific exercises or movements like walking or standing for long periods.
  • Stiffness throughout the hip – Most people with hip arthritis have limited motion. Due to inflammation and bone grinding, hip arthritis can make it difficult to move the hip or rotate the legs.
  • Crepitus –  Hip arthritis can cause crepitus, an audible cracking, clicking, crunching, or grating noise when flexing a joint.
  • Hip weakness – Since hip arthritis can be accompanied by stiffness and restricted motion, some people’s hip-related muscles will weaken due to reduced activity.

Although these symptoms are strong indicators of hip arthritis, it is essential to consult your medical provider to figure out exactly where your pain is coming from and to prevent further health complications.

Impact On Daily Life

Considering the myriad of potential symptoms, it is easy to see how hip arthritis can negatively impact one’s day-to-day life. Unfortunately, some hip arthritis sufferers struggle to perform tasks they used to enjoy.

Many hip arthritis sufferers will experience difficulties with the following activities: 

  • Playing sports or games – Some games or sports that involve high levels of activity, such as tennis or basketball, can be arduous and excruciatingly painful with hip arthritis.
  • Walking up or down stairs – The stiffness from hip arthritis can prevent some people from raising their legs high enough for steps, and the shock from stepping up or down can send waves of pain through their hips.
  • Performing simple tasks – By restricting one’s range of motion, hip arthritis can make it challenging to do everyday tasks like getting out of bed, getting dressed, or getting into a car.
  • Working – Many jobs require extended periods of sitting or standing, which can be very painful for people with hip arthritis.

Cutting out unnecessary tasks that exacerbate symptoms is a good way to preserve the health of your joints and minimize pain, but not everything can be avoided. Since hip arthritis is not entirely curable, learning how to combat your limited mobility and manage your pain is critical to living comfortably with hip arthritis.

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How Exercise Affects Hip Arthritis

Physical activity can help manage hip arthritis. Still, it is essential to be strategic about your exercises and movements because some unadvised exercises can exacerbate symptoms. When performed correctly, exercising can help you on your health journey in the following ways.

Maintaining Joint Health

Staying physically active is vital to maintaining joint health. Without routine exercise, joints can deteriorate faster and lead to more complications and pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that most adults with arthritis should perform moderate-intensity activities for at least 150 minutes weekly to promote overall joint health.

Mobility and Range of Motion

Stretching and targeted exercises like leg raises, bridging, and standing hip abduction can help preserve or enhance mobility, increasing the range of motion throughout the hip joint. However, to avoid further damage, be careful not to overextend your muscles or put too much strain on your hip joint.

Muscle Strength

Low-impact strengthening exercises are an excellent way to keep the muscles surrounding the hip joint strong and healthy. Strong muscles provide better support to the joint, minimizing stress on the arthritic hip. The CDC suggests that people with arthritis perform strengthening exercises at least 2 days a week in addition to balance-focused activities like standing on one foot

Swelling Control

Some activities like swimming and cycling have the potential to improve circulation. Improved circulation can decrease inflammation in areas like the hip joint, reducing swelling and maximizing flexibility. Nevertheless, some minor swelling, pain, or stiffness should be expected when starting a new exercise program.

Although exercise can help hip arthritis in many ways, it can also worsen the situation if the wrong exercises are chosen. High-impact activities like running or jumping should not be performed. Instead, performing low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, cycling, or yoga is best.

Exercises To Avoid If You Have Hip Arthritis

Some exercises can put too much strain on the hip joint and aggravate symptoms like swelling or throbbing sensations. Stick to low-impact workouts rather than shock-heavy, high-impact exercises that could cause more irreversible damage.

It is best to avoid the following exercises and sports:

  • Running
  • Jumping jacks
  • Jump rope
  • Burpees
  • Plyometrics
  • High-intensity aerobics
  • Deep squats or lunges
  • Weighted strength training for your legs
  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Mountain biking
  • Hiking high inclines or wobbly paths

In addition to the specific actions mentioned above, avoid any activity that requires your hip joint to overstretch or absorb excessive shock. If you are unsure if an exercise will hinder your arthritic hip, be cautious and contact a qualified medical professional for guidance.

Low-Impact Exercises For Hip Arthritis

Unlike high-impact, high-intensity workouts, most low-impact exercises are safe for people with hip arthritis. To increase mobility and strength while mitigating pain, perform joint-friendly exercises for about 22 minutes daily.

The following low-impact exercises are suitable for most people with hip arthritis:

  • Stationary cycling
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Walking
  • Moderate hiking without steep inclines

Although low-intensity activities are recommended for people with hip arthritis, listening to your body and avoiding painful movements is still important. To exercise confidently and safely, ask your medical provider for an individualized workout plan to help you manage your hip arthritis.

Get Started On Your Path To Joint Recovery

Hip arthritis can result from numerous factors, such as age-related wear and tear, traumatic injuries, or genetic predisposition. Regardless of its cause, hip arthritis is usually accompanied by pain, stiffness, and a limited range of motion, making everyday activities challenging. 

Gentle exercises like walking and swimming can help combat the symptoms of hip arthritis. However, high-impact activities like heavy lifting and running can intensify symptoms. Being selective about the exercises you perform is a great way to manage your hip arthritis. 

Still, exercising alone may not be enough to keep hip arthritis manageable, which is why medical intervention can be crucial. The experienced medical team at The Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale specializes in hip replacement and hip revision surgery, which are often the most effective long-term solutions to reducing pain and complications caused by hip arthritis if other interventions have not worked. 

Contact us to find the most effective treatment option tailored to your unique case of hip arthritis.