What Exercises Can Help Stiff Painful Hips After Sitting
Even if it seems challenging at times, there are many different exercises that can help with hip pain after sitting. When a painful hip joint remains inactive for a period of time, symptoms can intensify. An estimated 90% of people with hip pain have difficulty sleeping, and fatigue can intensify pain. These exercises help not only with stiff, painful hips but may also help to improve their quality of sleep.
Exercises that can help with hip pain after sitting include:
- Targeted strength training
Pain That Originates From The Side Of The Hip
Certain conditions may cause hip pain to originate from the side of the hip and travel down to the thigh. A few examples are discussed below.
External snapping hip
When a muscle or tendon slides over the bony protrusion at the top of the thigh bone , it creates a snap, pop, or clicking sound. This condition causes pain that increases with direct pressure over the side of the hip. The pain may also travel down the side of the thigh.1
Read more about 3 Types of Snapping Hip Syndrome on Sports-health.com
Inflammation of the large trochanteric bursa located on the side of the hip joint may cause hip pain. The pain typically increases upon direct pressure on the side of the hip and may travel down the side of the thigh.1,7
See Hip Bursitis
Both these conditions belong to a spectrum of hip disorders called the greater trochanteric pain syndrome. This syndrome also includes tears of the gluteus minimus and/or medius muscles located on the side and back of the hip that may cause pain in these areas.1
Why Are My Hips Stiff After Sitting
Stiffness in your hips after sitting aren’t simply a reflection of getting old. Often, this stiffness is simply a reflection of your hips and legs being in the same posture for an extended period of time.
“When you sit with your knees bent, your hamstrings are in a relaxed, shortened position, and your hip flexors are at the maximum shortened length,” said Kirsten Zambon, DPT, CLT-LANA, a physical therapist at Franciscan Health Lafayette East. “Hip pain from sitting can be from poor posture, but if you’re sitting 40 to 50 hours week over 5, 6 months or longer, you probably have decreased strength in your hips. When you do get up from your desk, your glutes, core and hip extensors will be weaker, and you dont feel as strong.”
Recommended Reading: Left Side Lower Back And Hip Pain
The Hip Joint And Its Muscles
The fashion industry has us thinking of our âhipsâ as the circumference below our waist and around our buttocks that we measure to choose our pants size. But the hip joint is actually located where the thigh bone meets the pelvis and it is where we âhingeâ to lift our knee to our chest or to sit down.
Stand up and run your hand down your side you will feel a small bony prominence under your hand at the top of your leg. This is the greater trochanter at the top of the femur and is the important location of the attachment of the some of the hip muscles. It is also often the focal point of lateral hip pain.
The outer muscles in your buttock â the muscles that create the shape of or lack thereof of the buttocks â are called the gluteal muscles. There are 3 of them: the outermost muscle is gluteus maximus, the next one is gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus is the deepest gluteal muscle.
These muscles have very important functions to move the hip joint in certain directions and they also work to stabilize the pelvis during activity. Gluteus minimus and medius are attached to the greater trochanter by the gluteal tendons.
Tendons are the strong tissues that attach muscles to bones and when a gluteal tendon is injured or unhealthy it can be the cause of lateral hip pain and the diagnosis of GTPS. If a tendon is damaged or unhealthy the term used to describe it is gluteal tendinopathy. Gluteal tendinopathy is the most common cause of GTPS.
Hip Pain That Travels Down The Leg
Hip pain may sometimes radiate or be referred to the knee or lower in the leg. Pain in the lower limb is usually associated with joint stiffness and makes daily activities hard to perform. Activities such as putting on shoes, standing up after sitting, walking, and/or driving are commonly affected.
Hip pain can occur in the front, side, or back of the hip.1 The nerves from the hip that travel down the leg commonly cause radiating pain in the thigh, knee, and/or lower in the leg.2 Pain may also be referred from muscles or joints. Here are some potential causes of hip pain that travels down the leg.
Read Also: Pain In Back And Hip
How Sitting Posture Affects Hip Pain
In the end, sitting for too many hours of the day is hard on the hips. Our joints are meant to be moved regularly to promote joint nourishment, optimized blood flow, and more balanced muscle use. When the hip joint becomes stagnant, problems ensue.
Common everyday postures that result in hip pain include the following:
Sitting often with the hips bent past 90 degrees
Leaning to one side in sitting
Sitting with the legs crossed
Slumping of the spine that affects blood flow to the hips
Better ergonomics can be encouraged with the use of a chair cushion, lumbar support, or foot rest.
Mononeuropathies Of The Leg
Mononeuropathies can affect nerves in the legs, arms, or other parts of the body. Mononeuropathy means a single nerve or nerve group has been damaged, for example, by a lesion that has developed along a nerve or group of nerves. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a good example of a mononeuropathy, in this case, affecting the wrist area. With mononeuropathy symptoms may be sudden or may develop slowly . Some of the more common mononeuropathies are
- femoral neuropathy
- sciatic nerve dysfunction
- peroneal neuropathy .
- tibial neuropathy .
Symptoms of the neuropathies above would include burning sensation in leg areas where these nerves are housed as well as lack of coordination of these leg muscles. Other symptoms include muscle wasting, pain, and twitching, cramps, and spasms in these nerves. Treatment focuses on isolating the underlying cause of the nerve disorder and addressing it using medications such as injected glucocorticoids and/or physical
Read Also: Arthritis In The Hips Feel Like
Treatment For Hip Pain When Squatting
Treatment will depend on your specific diagnosis, but in general, a doctor will start by recommending that you start with rest. Change up your daily routine so you can give your aching hip a break. Avoid doing the activities, including squatting, that make the pain flare up.
Other common treatments include:
Physical therapy may help as well. A physical therapist can help you learn what activities to avoid that might make your hip pain worse. Some exercises may be able to help you improve your hips range of motion or strengthen the muscles in your hip area to support the joint.
What Causes Hip Pain
The hip joint is a complex network of bone and soft tissue. It is prone to injury because of the frequency of use, which can wear down these structures. Many activities, from running to walking to standing up or sitting down, can place stress on the hip joint. The hip can also become injured from a sudden impact such as a fall.
Ball-and-socket joints like the hip and shoulder function in the way that their name suggests: the end of a bone forms a round head, the ball, which fits into the cavity of another bone, the socket.
This type of joint allows for a wider range of motion than any other type of joint in the body. Consider how we can move our arms up and down, and forwards. The same applies to the hip joint think about someone doing the splits the range of motion from the ball-and-socket of the hip joint is what allows them to do this.
The ball and socket are covered in a layer of cartilage that allows the joint to glide smoothly during motion. The cartilage also acts as a barrier between two bones that prevent bone-on-bone contact. This soft tissue can become damaged with excessive use or from natural degeneration. When this occurs it can cause pain and discomfort.
Pain in the hip can be short and sharp, or it can be more of a dull, constant ache or anywhere in between. Other symptoms associated with hip pain include:
- Difficulty sitting or standing
- Pain when lying on the affected side
Don’t Miss: Total Hip Replacement Anterior Approach Protocol
Does Hip Bursitis Go Away
A person suffering from hip bursitis may have pain in the hip, thigh, and buttock. The pain may also be stiff or painful to touch. If the pain is constant and persists, it is important to visit your doctor. Your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam to identify the cause. Your doctor may also order an x-ray or an MRI to determine the severity of the bursitis.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, can ease pain and swelling caused by hip bursitis. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to treat the condition. If nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are not effective, you can try icing to reduce the pain and swelling. However, icing should be done only for a short period of time because it can cause stomach irritation.
Physiotherapy and targeted exercise can help alleviate the pain in the hip. Physical therapy focuses on stretching and loosening the tight tissues in the affected joint. Physiotherapy works to release these tissues, which may include the hip flexors, IT band, and piriformis.
Key Strategy 1 For Hip Pain Relief In Sitting: Watch Your Hip Angle
Sustaining your hips in a position where they are bent more than 90°, may cause pain aggravation of:
You can reduce this angle in a number of ways to help reduce your hip pain sitting:
- Avoid choosing low chairs or lounges/sofas
- Tilt your seatbase forward just a little if possible, to bring the hips a little higher than your knees
- Recline your seatback slightly
You May Like: Right Hip Pain Related To Bowels
Difference Between Hip Pain And Back Pain
Back pain can seem like hip flexor pain because there are a lot of similarities, says hip specialist Trevor Murray, MD. from the Cleveland Clinic. This is because most hip and back problems happen due to natural wear and tear of the body.
According to Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, MD, Ph.D., an orthopedic surgeon, he states, While these conditions are common, due to the anatomy of the hip, patients often mistake hip pain for what is actually back pain.
So, how can we differentiate between the two? Obviously, the first thing you need to do is to see your doctor or physician and get the right diagnosis. However, there are some telltale signs that can help you pinpoint the source of pain.
Do Hip Abduction Exercises Standing Behind Your Chair To Help Relief Hip Pain
Your hip abductors work together to help keep your hips stable when you move.
Hip abduction strength is one of the most common weaknesses seen in individuals with hip pain. Weakness in this region can also cause effects down your leg into your foot and ankle. Prolonged sitting is a high risk factor for developing hip abductor weakness.
The extended period of inactivity can lead to tightness in these muscles which inhibits their ability to function effectively.
A great exercise to perform at home is the standing hip abduction. Stand behind your chair, just touching gently for balance. Pull your leg out and away from your body but make sure you dont lean your hips. Stand tall and then slowly bring your feet back together again. Avoid letting your knees touch, you only need to lift your legs around 30-40 degrees to be able to feel this and work those muscles.
Complete up to 10 reps on each side.
Also Check: X Ray Of Osteoarthritis Hip
Diagnosing The Root Of The Problem
While arthritis may cause hip pain caused by stiffness, this is different to muscle stiffness in the hip joint, Typically, arthritis pain will be most pronounced in the morning getting out of bed, and can be exacerbated by very vigorous exercise. Muscle stiffness in contrast is most noticeable when you have been sitting down for an extended period, and can be eased by hip flexor exercises. You can read more about the different types of hip pain and how to treat them on our blog.
Often we find that hip pain & issues occur as a result of movement compensations. Our Exercise Physiologists& Physiotherapists are experts in addressing these movement compensations through our unique, staged based approach. To get an idea of where your movement might be lacking, take a look at our video below detailing an important movement concept known as the movement hierarchy. By understanding this concept you can start to see where a lack of the fundamental qualities of movement , can lead to pain & dysfunction such as hip pain.
Causes Of Hip Pain When Sitting Or Lying Down
- Poor sleep posture Poor sleep posture puts additional pressure on your hip at night that can cause pain and stiffness when you wake up. Sleeping on your front puts strain on your spine and hips that causes this kind of pressure. Sleeping on your side can also cause misalignment between your knees and hips.
- Tendinitis The overuse of your hips can cause inflammation in their tendons known as tendinitis. Tendinitis symptoms are usually more noticeable when walking, but the inflammation can still be painful while sitting or lying down.
- Bursitis Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae. These are tiny sacs of fluid that cushion the tendons and muscles from the bones in your hips. Frequent overexertion of the hips can cause inflammation in the bursae that can be painful while sitting or lying down.
- Arthritis The pain that arthritis causes in the cartilage of your joints is usually more noticeable when moving around. However, arthritis can still cause pain when youre sitting or lying down, especially if youre sitting or lying with poor posture.
Recommended Reading: Stabbing Pain In Thigh After Hip Replacement
What Causes Gluteal Tendinopathy
Normally within a healthy tendon, there is a balanced cycle of tissue breakdown and repair. Problems arise however when there is more breakdown of cells in the tendon tissue than repair and this imbalance leads to damage within the tendon called tendinopathy.
This process of increased break down within the gluteal tendon might be triggered by an increase in running mileage or hill walking or hiking with a lot of inclines.
The intensity and the frequency of these types of activities result in longitudinalloading through the hip joint and if there is inadequate recovery or adaptation time factored into training or recreational schedules the gluteal tendon is stressed toward injury.
The other important contributing factor to the development of gluteal tendinopathy is perpendicular loadingthrough the hip joint which is referred to as compression.
Examples of compression loading through the lateral hip are numerous and include lying on the side of the painful hip, sitting with legs crossed, standing with weight shifted to one side and stretching exercises of hip muscles such as the Pigeon pose in yoga.
The combination of compression and high tensile loads seems to be the most damaging to the gluteal tendon. These loads, in combination with increased activity, can sometimes be too much for the tendon and lateral hip pain results.
When You Should See A Doctor
If your hip pain is regularly keeping you from sleep or waking you up at night, see your doctor.
They may check for tenderness and swelling around your hip. Theyll also assess the range of motion of your hip for signs of arthritis and tendonitis. Reduced motion is a sign of arthritis.
They may also take blood or fluid samples, or order X-rays to rule out various conditions.
Go to an urgent care facility or to an emergency room if your hip pain is caused from an injury.
Also seek immediate care if you have any of these symptoms:
- a joint that looks deformed
- inability to move your leg or hip
- inability to put weight on the leg with the sore hip
- intense pain or sudden swelling in your hip
Recommended Reading: Piriformis Syndrome After Hip Replacement
What Are The First Signs Of Hip Problems
One of the first signs of hip problems is pain when bending your hip. This pain can be very unpleasant and can worsen after exercising. It can also interfere with sleep. It is important to see a doctor to find out whats wrong with your hip. Your doctor will examine your hip to see how well it moves. He or she may also order other tests to help determine the exact cause of your hip pain. These tests can include x-rays, which can show the condition of bones and soft tissues around the joint.
Another sign of hip pain is swelling. This is a sign of inflammation of the bursae, which cushion joints. This inflammation may be caused by arthritis or bursitis. It can also result from a traumatic accident or years of wear and tear. Hip pain can make everyday tasks difficult and should be evaluated by a doctor to determine what is causing your pain.