Summit physical therapist Amanda Thielen, PT, MSPT, covers some easy ways to warm up your hip joint before exercise or activity.
There is a right way and a wrong way to prepare your hip joints for exercise or activity. “Avoid prolonged stretching before exercise — instead, do some dynamic warm-up exercises,” Thielen said. “Getting started before exercise or activity by engaging in dynamic warm-ups helps boost blood flow to the muscles around the hip and helps lubricate the joint and tissues to get ready for exercise.”
Dynamic warm-ups reduce the risk of injury and increase performance because they prepare the joint for exercise more effectively. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, and it relies on a lubricating fluid, called synovial fluid, to move easily and painlessly. Engaging in dynamic warm-ups helps boost blood flow to the hip, which prompts the body to lubricate the joint with synovial fluid.
The basics of dynamic warm-ups
- For a good hip warm-up, start with small movements, and gradually move through bigger and bigger ranges of motion.
- Warm up for five to 10 minutes, to give the body time to increase blood flow and lubrication.
- Begin with simple range-of-motion movements, and then add a few light agility movements.
- Try to mimic the movements you’ll be doing during your exercise or activity.
- Always stay in the pain-free range of motion — do not push until it hurts.
Four dynamic hip warm-up ideas to try
- Walking knee to chest — “This warm-up increases the range of movement as you increase flexibility,” Thielen said.
- Straight-leg kicks (also known as soldier walks) — Kick your leg straight out in front of you and touch your toes with your fingertips.
- Hip circles — Make circular motions, moving your knee and hip in and out to make a circle.
- Walking quad stretch — Step forward and pull your heel toward your backside.
Four more hip warm-ups that incorporate light agility
Once you’ve covered the basic dynamic hip warm-ups, Thielen suggests adding some light agility movements. Her favorites include:
- Heel-to-rear kicks
- Side shuffles
- Carioca — crossover, front to back heel
- Small-range walking lunges
After your workout
“After your workout, it’s a whole different ball game,” Thielen said. “The types of movement we recommend are completely different.”
Once you’ve completed your exercise or activity, the joint is warm. That’s the best time to increase your flexibility with prolonged, static stretches. A good general guideline is to stretch and hold for 20 to 60 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch, but no pain. Remember, static stretches are not a good idea before exercise.
When to seek treatment for your arthritis
Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. Whether you try these hip warm-up ideas or not, if you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of a select few nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.
Start your journey to healthier joints. Find your arthritis expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
More resources for you:
- Check out this video about exercise’s effect on arthritis.
- Get an overview of what happens during a physical therapy appointment.
- View some hip health videos in our hip video library.