Hip Activation Exercises

Hip activation exercises form part of a number of our injury rehabilitation programs. They are important for keeping the hip muscles firing and working properly as you recover from injury. If you have to rest for a period of time then they can ‘go to sleep’ and lose strength, leading to a slower recovery, or poor performance later on.

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Clam in flexion

Teaching point:

The clam works the muscles on the outside of the hip.

  • Lie on your side with your knees bent and slightly forwards so your hips are in flexion
  • Raise your knee up in a slow, controlled movement and return to the start position

Clam in extension activation exercise

Teaching point:

It is important to do these exercises on both sides.

  • Lie on your side with your knees bent and your hips moved further back into the extension
  • This targets the muscles on the outside of the hip in a slightly different way
  • It is important to do these exercises on both sides
  • If you begin to find this exercise easy then you can increase difficulty with a stronger band

Quarter squats against the wall

Teaching point:

For this activation exercise stand next to a wall with a gym ball between you and the wall.

  • Perform a quarter squat on one leg using the ball for support
  • This targets the posterior chain and gets the muscles firing as they work to stabilize your hip

Single leg turnouts

Teaching point:

  • Balance on one leg with the other knee bent, foot resting on the inside of the supporting leg
  • Whilst maintaining your balance turn the knee out and in to work your hip muscles whilst maintaining control and balance

VMO with hamstring push

Teaching point:

  • Contract your quadriceps muscles and hold, then use your hamstring muscles to push down, and hold
  • Relax, then repeat

Crab walks

Teaching point:

  • Place a resistance band around your knees and walk sideways
  • This activation exercise gets the hip muscles firing and fatiguing under bodyweight load
  • This is progressed by making the movements more dynamic, performing this faster and on your toes

Ice skaters

Teaching point:

This exercise works the hip muscles under load in a slightly different way but moving forward.

  • Place a resistance band around your knees to increase the load on your lateral hip muscles

Bridge activation exercise

Teaching point:

This exercise works the gluteal muscles in particular, as well as brings your core into play.

  • Place a band around your knees to increase the tension on the outside hip muscles as you perform the exercise
  • Bridge exercises can be done on the floor, or with feet raised
  • This is also made more difficult by doing single-leg bridges
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