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Man Doing Hip Bursitis Exercise


Seven Exercises to Avoid with Hip Bursitis

Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae. Bursae are sacs filled with a jelly-like substance that help to reduce friction and pain between bones and soft tissues. There are two bursae in the hip joint, and when a bursa becomes irritated and inflamed, pain is usually the first sign. It is often initially sharp and then, over time, becomes more of a chronic ache. Swelling, warmth, and redness may also be seen at the hip.

Activities or positions that put pressure on the hip bursa, such as lying down, sitting in one position for a long time, or walking distances can irritate the bursa and cause more pain. It is also important to learn the hip bursitis exercises to avoid making the condition worse.

Hip Bursitis Treatment

While things like medication for pain and inflammation and steroid injections can be helpful, physical therapy is one of the most important components of treating hip bursitis. Many people can do exercises at home to help with hip bursitis. But knowing which hip bursitis exercises to avoid is just as important as knowing how to do helpful exercises properly.

Many people with hip bursitis have difficulty walking. Using a cane or walker when the bursitis is particularly bad will help prevent falls and add much-needed support to the hip.

Surgery is an option reserved for the most severe cases that have not responded to trials of the other techniques (i.e., physical therapy, medication, injections into the bursa, and assistive devices). Focusing on the proper activity and exercise can make a big difference in hip strength and flexibility while reducing pain. But equally important is knowing which exercises to avoid with hip bursitis.

Seven Exercises to Avoid with Hip Bursitis

  1. Running. This exercise is terrific for lots of people, but not for someone with hip bursitis. Quite simply, running puts tremendous pressure on the hip, and when the bursa is already inflamed, this is not a good idea.
  2. Bicycling. The body’s position when riding a bicycle places most of the weight directly onto the hip. The result is likely to be increased pain and worsening of bursitis. So all bicycling should be limited to a late stage in the recovery process and should begin very slowly and gently.
  3. Deep Squats. These exercises also require too much from the hips. There is no way to do a deep squat without putting substantial pressure on the hips.
  4. Leg Lifts. Whether straight leg lifts or side leg lifts, these exercises also require strong hip muscles and put much weight onto the hips. This needs to be avoided in those with hip bursitis.
  5. Cardio Machines. Things like treadmills, stair-climbers, and elliptical machines all require healthy hips to exercise properly on them. All cardio machines involve exercises to avoid with hip bursitis.
  6. Sideways Exercises. Whether exercising by tilting the body to the side or simply walking or sitting at an angle, hip bursitis will generally worsen if the body’s posture is not kept straight.
  7. Any Activity for Too Long. This includes sitting, lying down, standing, and doing various helpful exercises for hip bursitis, such as swimming (where water provides all-around support) or stretching exercises that do not send a leg off to the side. Most people with hip bursitis notice that the total lack of movement and repetitive movements for too long worsen pain and disability. 

While all of these are exercises to avoid with hip bursitis some specific ideas are helpful to know and understand to care for bursitis properly.


Is Stretching Bad for Hip Bursitis?

The answer is it depends. Some kind of stretching can be very helpful for hip bursitis, while other kinds may make it worse. The best advice to always keep in mind is: “Always listen to the body.” If an activity, including what may seem like a simple, easy stretch, causes pain in the hip to worsen, stop doing that activity.

Any exercise designed to help hip bursitis should not cause significant pain or discomfort. Some stretches are usually helpful for people with hip bursitis. These are just three examples of many stretches that an orthopedic doctor or physical therapist can demonstrate.

  • Hip Rotator Stretch

Lie on your back and bend both knees while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Place the ankle of your hip with bursitis onto your opposite thigh near your knee. Using your hand, gently push your knee downward. Once you feel a gentle stretch at your hip, stop. Hold this position for 15 - 30 seconds if you can. You can also do this exercise again but try gently pulling your knee upward toward the opposite shoulder.

  • Clamshell

Lie on your side with your bad hip on the top and your head on a pillow. Keep your feet and knees together, and your knees slightly bent. Then lift your top knee while keeping your feet together. Try to keep your hips from rolling. The legs should open up like a clamshell. Try to hold this position for 5 seconds, and then slowly lower your knee down. Rest for at least 10 seconds before repeating.

  • Standing Iliotibial Band Stretch

Standing straight against a wall, cross your good leg over the bad one so the leg with the hip bursitis is behind the good leg. Next, bend forward toward the inside of the back foot without bending your knees. If you can, hold this position for up to 30 seconds. Then uncross your legs and stand up straight. This usually should not be repeated more than a few times.

Ultimately, orthopedic doctors and physical therapists are the best resources for helping to determine the best exercises, learning how to do them properly, and discovering the exercises to avoid with hip bursitis. Reading the description of an exercise can sometimes lead to poor imitation and a harmful attempt at what would otherwise be a helpful exercise.

So, anytime there are questions or concerns, contacting one of the specialists at the Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey will often save a lot of time to recover and unneeded pain from “trial-and-error.” For example, sometimes, it is not the case that there are exercises to avoid, but effective exercises are not being done properly, especially hip bursitis exercises for seniors. 


What Aggravates Hip Bursitis?

Besides doing exercises incorrectly or engaging in an activity for too long, as discussed above, other things can also worsen hip bursitis. Sometimes other diseases can cause or make hip bursitis worse, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriasis, and thyroid disease. The best way to limit the effects of these diseases on hip bursitis is to manage these other diseases by following the directions of a healthcare provider.

Other things that can aggravate hip bursitis include too much pressure on the hip, poor overall posture, and engaging in activities that overuse the muscles in the hip. Even climbing a single flight of stairs can cause pain for some people with hip bursitis. While there are activities and exercises to avoid with hip bursitis, everyone with hip bursitis will discover for themselves what aggravates and alleviates the pain of hip bursitis. Lastly, other things to consider would be weight gain, poor posture, and stretching or exercises that can aggravate the bursitis even further.


How to Heal Hip Bursitis Fast

While age and other hip conditions can slow the recovery from hip bursitis, healing from hip bursitis rapidly has much to do with how aggressively the hip bursitis sufferer responds to the condition. At the first sign of a painful hip, ice packs should be applied every 4 hours for 20 minutes at a time. Rest is necessary initially as any activity is going to worsen the problem.

The next step should be to contact a qualified orthopedic physician specializing in bursitis of the hip and other conditions causing hip pain such as arthritis, tendinitis, and even fractures.

Before worrying about exercises that are good to do and those exercises to avoid with hip bursitis, it is important to ensure that any hip pain is caused by bursitis. An orthopedic specialist at the Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey is the doctor to see. 

Find an orthopedic hip specialist near you. With three urgent care centers, contacting OINJ now can save you time in pain, worry, and limited activity. 


This article was reviewed and approved by an orthopedic surgeon as we place a high premium on accuracy for our patients and potential patients.