Pool Exercises for Hip Pain

9 Pool Exercises for Hip Pain

Below are 9 pool exercises specific for hip pain that could be helpful from those suffering from hip osteoarthritis along with other impairments:

Woman in a pool holding a pool noodle for aquatic or pool exercisesPool Exercise

1. Marching (either in place or while moving)

Simple marching in place or while moving is good for hip flexors. This muscle group is important when walking at home in the community because it is involved in lifting the leg up and forward.

2. Standing hip abduction (sidekicks)

3. Holding on the end edge of a pool for support kick one leg to the side. It is important to keep your torso in the upright position to avoid straining your back. This exercise is for the lateral hip stabilizers (mostly gluteus medius). When these muscle groups are weekend people tend to have difficulty walking increased hip pain.

4. Standing hip extension (backward kicks)

Holding on the end edge of a pool for support kick one leg backward. It is important to keep your torso in the upright position to avoid straining your back. Hip extensions are great for improving gluteus maximus strength. The gluteus maximus is one of the main hip stabilizers and is often weaker in patients with hip osteoarthritis.

5. Lunge/hip stretch

Stand near the end of the pool for support. Starting with your right leg You will take a step backward and drop your right knee down close to the pool floor (it does not need to touch). Return to the start position and repeat with the left. This exercise is good for gluteus maximus, medius, and quadriceps strengthening.

6. Squats

Squat exercises are another great way to improve gluteus maximus strength. Often people complain of the knee or hip pain when squatting on land. Squatting in the pool reduces this and allows people to focus on their form before transitioning to squatting on land. A proper squat should result in your bottom going backward while the chest remains mostly upright. You should be able to see your toes the entire time. To prevent knee pain do not let your knees drift over your toes.

7. Single Leg Balance

Weight-bearing (although uncomfortable at times) is actually good for our joints. It promotes bone growth. As a result, a good exercise for hip pain is single-leg balance. Doing this exercise in the pool eliminates the risk of falling as single-leg standing can be difficult for people with balance issues.

8. Pool planks

This exercise involves using a pool noodle. You will lean forward with your elbows on the noddle and your legs behind you while still touching the floor of the pool. This will put you in a plank position. Try holding this position for 15 seconds and increasing in 15-second intervals until you can hold for 1-2 minutes. Pool planks are great for core strength. Core strength is vital for controlling hip pain.

9. Walking or Jogging

It is a simple as it sounds. Walking and jogging are great for the cardiovascular system and have been proven to improve overall health. Performing this exercise in the pool provides this benefit without flaring up the hip joint point. The water should be at waist level. Start with a pace that you are comfortable with. You can challenge yourself by improving your pace or number of laps in the pool.

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

Research has shown that just two and a half hours of aerobic exercise/physical activity can help decrease the risk of developing chronic pain ailments. Additionally, aerobic exercise has been proven to improve health in patients with diabetes and heart disease.3 people in a pool doing exercises with pool dumbbells water aerobics

Alternative to Traditional Aerobic Exercise

Aquatic or pool exercises for hip pain can often be a good alternative to traditional aerobic exercise (running/biking). Because the body is un-weighted, people can often exercise longer in the water than can on land. Additionally, people who have joint pain and are unable to tolerate walking or running and transition to pool exercise. For people with arthritis, aquatic exercise can improve strength and range of motion in the affected joints while avoiding flaring their symptoms.

Pool exercises for hip pain are a great way to get moving, even if you have pain. Try these exercises gently and slowly and progress the speed and intensity as tolerated.  To learn more from JOI Rehab about this subject, please read this article on aerobic exercises

By: Adam Hutchison, PT DPT

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