Moreover, the very practice of regularly doing yoga can potentially help alleviate muscle and joint pain provided you perform the right poses and listen to your body. For example, if you have knee pain, there are yoga poses you can do to strengthen your quads to reduce the stress and strain on your knees.
Many people also find yoga to be a great way to alleviate hip pain. Yoga for hip pain can help stretch the muscles surrounding and controlling the hips to increase range of motion, decrease tightness, and improve mobility.
In this guide to yoga for hip pain, we will discuss how to safely perform yoga with hip pain or hip injuries and how to use yoga to prevent hip pain.
We will look at:
- Can I Do Yoga With Hip Pain?
- Common Hip Injuries
- How Can Yoga Help Hip Pain
- 10 Poses – Yoga For Hip Pain
- Practicing Yoga With Hip Pain
- Yoga Poses to Avoid With Hip Pain
Let’s jump in!
Can I Do Yoga With Hip Pain?
Generally speaking, it is safe to perform many yoga poses even if you have hip pain. However, certain yoga poses are contraindicated with hip injuries or hip arthritis, and some poses need to be modified to reduce stress, torque, or pressure on the hips.
If you are dealing with an acute hip injury or chronic hip pain, it’s advisable to consult your doctor or physical therapist for a possible diagnosis and any exercise restrictions or limitations prior to engaging in a yoga practice.
A physical therapist can also help design a rehabilitation program to strengthen the surrounding muscles and correct any imbalances or mobility issues that might have contributed to your injury.
Common Hip Injuries
Before we cover specific hip injuries, it’s helpful to review the basic anatomy of the hip joint to illuminate how complex the hip joints are.
The hips are the largest synovial joints in the body, and have a ball-and-socket configuration wherein the head of your femur (thigh bone) articulates into the concave acetabulum (socket) formed by the bones of the pelvis.
The ball-and-socket configuration makes the hip highly mobile, allowing for forward flexion and backward extension, lateral abduction (out to the side) and addiction, and internal and external rotation.
The hip joint is controlled by several large and small muscles, which work together to carry out these movements in a controlled and powerful fashion.
For example, the hamstrings and glutes are muscle groups composed of several synergistic muscles that together help extend the hip. The Iliopsoas group of muscles flexes the hip.
There are also smaller and deeper muscles like the piriformis, tensor fascia latae, gemellus superior and inferior, and obturators that help with rotation, and a large group of adductors in the inner thigh, among others.
Your hips form the root of your lower limbs, so they power and control your stride when you walk and run, and they support much of your weight when you sit and stand.
Hip pain may be due to damage to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, cartilage, or bursa due to overuse or acute injury. The most common causes of hip pain include the following:
- Osteoarthritis of the hip
- Hip flexor strains
- Trochanteric bursitis
- Hip joint impingement
- Labral tears
- Iliopsoas strains
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Muscle tears
- Femoroacetabular syndrome
- Stress fractures
How Can Yoga Help Hip Pain
Yoga can be an effective modality to alleviate hip pain and potentially prevent hip injuries. Yoga can potentially reduce hip pain in the following ways:
- Correcting muscle imbalances.
- Strengthening the muscles stabilizing and controlling the hips and pelvis.
- Activating the glutes to take stress off the joints and improve biomechanics.
- Improving posture and core strength.
- Increasing mobility in your hips.
- Improving balance, proprioception, body awareness, and stability, which can reduce your risk of injuries and abnormal stresses on your hip joints.
10 Poses – Yoga For Hip pain
There are many yoga poses that can help prevent hip pain by strengthening the muscles controlling and stabilizing the pelvis and hips (quads, hamstrings, glutes, iliopsoas, hip adductors, hip abductors, and hip internal and external rotators). The following are just a few of the best yoga poses for hip pain:
- Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Bird Dog (Parsva Balasana)
- Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
- Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
- Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)
- Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Practicing Yoga With Hip Pain
In most cases, you can safely practice yoga with hip pain, though some modifications will ensure your asanas do not place too much stress on an injured hip. Here are a few general considerations for doing yoga with hip pain or a hip injury:
- Avoid lying directly on your hip or placing all your weight on a painful hip (as with Pigeon Pose, for example).
- Use props like pillows, blocks, and bolsters to help you get in and out of poses on the ground or under your body to provide support and cushioning when leaning into or onto your hips.
- Ensure your hips, knees, and ankles are aligned or stacked when you load them (for example, when squatting in Chair Pose, make sure your knees are straight down below your hips and not caving inward).
- Avoid moving your hips into their end ranges of motion if you have pain.
- Avoid poses that abduct the hip and leg if you have pain.
- Listen to your body. If you have any pain when holding a pose, stop immediately.
Yoga Poses to Avoid With Hip Pain
If you have an acute hip injury, hip arthritis, or weak, unstable, or chronically-painful hips, there are certain yoga poses you should avoid, or at least modify. These poses can put undue stress and pressure on the hip joints, which can exacerbate an injury.
Warrior I and Warrior II
Warrior Poses, particularly Warrior I and Warrior II, can exacerbate hip pain because these yoga poses require you to balance your weight on one leg, placing a lot of demand on the hip joint to stabilize and support your body.
These poses can aggregate hip impingement in the back of the hip point (posteriorly) as well as soft tissue injuries in the front of the joint, such as hip flexor strains.
Still, Warrior I and Warrior II can be good yoga poses for hip pain because they can strengthen the muscles controlling the hips, such as the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, so if you’re able to modify them and perform the poses without pain, consider doing so.
To modify these yoga poses for hip pain, reduce the depth of the lunge and spend less time in the pose.
Additionally, you can reduce the strain on the hips by turning your toes on the back foot more towards the forward direction to minimize external rotation of your hip. To reduce the extension of the hip, you can also lift your back heel off the ground and place a small bend in your back knee.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
This pose can aggravate hip osteoarthritis because it rotates your hips outward to their end range of motion.
Tree Pose can exacerbate hip pain because you have to support all your weight on one leg, which can irritate the hip on that standing leg.
Moreover, the other hip is placed into its end range of motion in horizontal abduction/external rotation because you flare the other thigh out to the side. This can aggregate the hip on the non-weight bearing side, especially if you have impingement in the hip joint.
While it’s perfectly fine to avoid this pose altogether, it can be a good yoga pose for hip pain because it can help activate the gluteus medius muscle, a key muscle for controlling hip abduction and the alignment of your hips and knees.
You can modify this yoga pose for hip pain by trying to sit your pelvis back a bit relative to your ankle joint and keeping your non-weight bearing leg aligned more forward without opening your hip as much to the side.
Revolved Lunge Pose
Revolved Lunge Pose can be a challenging yoga pose for hip pain because it involves holding a lunge position with the torso tilted forward, which brings the front hip essentially into full flexion. This can be extremely painful for people with anterior femoroacetabular impingement.
Plus, the rotation of the torso increases the internal rotation and adduction of the hip joint.
That said, you can modify this yoga pose for hip pain by reducing the degree of hip flexion by placing a block under the hand that’s opposite from the front leg. The block helps support your body weight, reduces hip flexion, and also reduces hip adduction and internal rotation. Additionally, you can keep your torso upright when you twist it.
There are quite a few other yoga poses that either place weight directly on your hips (by lying on your side) or place the hips at unnatural or strained angles, but the above list should serve as a good starting place for examples of such poses.
Hip pain and hip injuries are highly variable from one person to the next, so experiment to find out what works and doesn’t work for you. Above all, stop any yoga pose that causes discomfort and consult your doctor or physical therapist for guidance if you have concerns.
For more yoga poses for hip pain, check out this yoga video for an entire yoga workout for those with hip pain.