April 10, 2024

Having hip arthritis does not prevent you from having an active life. Exercise benefits people with hip arthritis as long as they know what exercises to avoid, preventing further pain and injury.

Here are ten exercises to avoid when you have hip arthritis:

  • High-impact exercises
  • Extended standing exercises
  • Exercises on uneven ground
  • Weightlifting exercises
  • Overstretching exercises
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Exercises with sudden stops and movements
  • Twisting exercises
  • Heavy leg exercises
  • Hip abductor/adductor exercises

Explore alternative exercises and ways to modify some of these exercises to avoid stressing the hip joints.

High-impact exercises

High-impact exercises include activities like intense aerobics, running, and jumping. These exercises impact your soft tissue, including your joints, ligaments, and tendons. They can also stress your bones and the cartilage in your joints.

While running, the force of your heel hitting the ground with every stride is equal to three times your body weight.1 That force travels up your leg to your knees and hips. For someone with hip arthritis, it can cause strain and increased pain. Try low-impact exercises like swimming or walking instead.


Extended standing exercises

Standing for long periods while exercising can stress the hip joints, increasing hip pain. Exercises that require standing can be done in short intervals or in a swimming pool to reduce pressure on the hip joints. You can also find exercises that can be done sitting or lying down to avoid standing altogether.

Exercises on uneven ground

Uneven ground can be natural terrain like grass or sand and materials like concrete. The unevenness of these surfaces may require you to shift your posture with every step to stay stable, which can put extra strain on the hips.2 Exercising on uneven ground also increases your risk of tripping and falling, potentially causing injury. It’s important to have a smooth and even surface for these activities, so exercising at home or a gym may be best.

Weightlifting exercises

Strength training, like weightlifting, can be a good exercise for those with hip arthritis when done correctly. When you’re weightlifting, it is important to use proper form and avoid lifting weights that are too heavy. If this exercise is done improperly, it can increase hip arthritis pain or cause joint injury. If you want to include strength training in your exercise routine, you can start with body weight. Your physician or physical therapist can let you know if and when you can progress to light weights.


Overstretching exercises

Stretching is an essential part of exercising for anyone, even those with hip arthritis. While mild stretching can help with flexibility in the hip joint, overstretching strains the soft tissue, increasing pain and potentially causing injury. To prevent overstretching, avoid extreme twisting and deep poses, especially ones that focus on the hips. Consult your physician or physical therapist for the proper stretches to increase mobility and avoid pain.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an exercise that focuses on quick bursts of intense activity with little rest in between. The high impact of the movements and the sudden changes from one exercise to the next can increase joint contact forces, stressing the joints and increasing pain.3 Stick to low-impact forms of exercise that can improve balance and mobility, like yoga or tai chi.

Exercises with sudden stops and movements

Exercises that tend to have sudden movements and stops, like many sports, are unsuitable for those with hip arthritis. Handball, tennis, soccer, and hockey can put a lot of stress on the joints and increase your risk of injury. One study in 2016 showed a connection between these sporting activities and the increased risk of a type of hip arthritis called osteoarthritis (OA).

Twisting exercises

Many exercises, especially core exercises, use twisting motions to strengthen the muscles in your abdomen. However, deep twisting in yoga, medicine ball twists, or Russian twists can strain the hip joints and cause pain or injury. If you want to exercise your core muscles, try a lying march where you lie flat with knees bent and take turns raising one leg a few inches off the ground for a few seconds.

Heavy leg exercises

Certain leg exercises, like deep squats, lunges, and leg presses, can stress the hip joints and increase stiffness and pain. These exercises typically require sitting in a deep squatting or lunging position or at an incline with heavy weight bearing down on your legs. Alternatively, you can perform some of these exercises with modifiers to help relieve added pressure on your hip joints. You can do shallow squats and lunges with a chair or wall assistance for balance. The leg press may be a hip arthritis exercise to avoid altogether. Instead, use resistance bands or leg lifts to target the same muscles.


Hip abductor/adductor exercises

If you belong to a gym, you may have noticed a machine that specifically targets the hip muscles. This machine, called the hip abductor/adductor, requires you to sit with your legs on padded levers attached to weights. The pushing out or squeezing in motion can strain hip joints and muscles, especially with heavy weight. Shallow side lunges with the assistance of a chair or the wall can target the same muscles.

Consult your physician

Knowing which exercises to avoid with hip arthritis is as important as knowing which exercises will help relieve hip pain and pressure. The best way to discover what will help increase mobility and avoid discomfort is by consulting medical experts. Healthcare Associates of Texas has been helping their patients in the Dallas/Fort Worth community for 25 years. If you have any medical concerns, their expert staff can be there to guide and treat you.



  1. Tee-Melegrito, R. A. (2022, February 10). What exercises to avoid with hip arthritis (L. Jarmusz, PT, DPT, OCS, Ed.). Www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hip-arthritis-exercise-to-avoid
  2. (2022, June 17). TYPES OF EXERCISES TO AVOID WHEN YOU HAVE HIP ARTHRITIS | Brett Gilbert, MD. Brett J. Gilbert, MD. https://brettgilbert.emergeortho.com/blog/types-of-exercises-to-avoid-when-you-have-hip-arthritis/
  3. Goyal, A. (2023, October 4). What Exercises Should Be Avoided with Hip arthritis? Instant Urgent Care. https://instantuc.com/what-exercises-should-be-avoided-with-hip-arthritis/

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