Everything in your body is connected, which means the pain you feel in one area might be caused by a weakness or an underlying injury in another. Take your hips, for example. You probably know how sore and tight this area can get just from sitting or working out, but if your hip muscles are weak, you could be in for bigger issues.
Why Should You Strengthen Your Hips?
“Weak hip muscles can cause you to have back pain, knee pain, or ankle injuries,” said physical therapist Lauren Lobert Frison, DPT, OMPT, CSCS, owner of APEX Physical Therapy in Brighton, MI. Back pain can occur when your back “takes over” some of the action of your hips, Frison explained, such as when you’re walking or squatting, causing your back to over-arch and potentially lead to disc injuries, back spasms, or pain. Your hip muscles also help to stabilize your pelvis; if they’re lacking in strength, your hips will drop slightly, causing your spine to bow to the side and causing irritation and pain.
Dealing with knee pain? Your hips might have something to do with that, too. “If your hips are weak, your knees tend to cave in as you do things like squats or jumping,” Frison told POPSUGAR. Over time, this can lead to knee or ankle pain and put you at greater risk of major knee injuries, she added, such as an ACL tear.
How Can You Strengthen Your Hips?
With all that in mind, strengthening your hips is crucial for helping with pain and injury prevention, as well as aiding your overall workout performance. “I cannot stress enough how important this is to incorporate into your exercise routine,” Frison said. To do so, she recommended targeting your gluteus maximus, the large muscle around the back of your hips that draws your hip back or extends it; and your glute medius and minimus, muscles on the side of your hips that bring your leg out to the side.
Frison recommended the four exercises ahead to strengthen these key muscles, noting that you should do enough reps to fatigue the muscle, aka “making those muscles go to a seven or eight” out of 10. “You should be able to do three to five more good repetitions, in general, when you stop.” Keep reading for the four moves she recommends to build hip strength, prevent injury, and ease pain.