The 5 Best Strengthening Exercises for Adult Hip Dysplasia: A Comprehensive Guide

Adult hip dysplasia is a condition that can cause discomfort and limited mobility, making everyday activities challenging for those affected. Understanding the role of strengthening exercises in managing this condition is essential to improving overall hip health and function.

The incidence of hip dysplasia in the adult population ranges from 1.7 to 20 % in the general population, with most studies finding the incidence between 3 and 5%. Females have a 2-4x increased relative risk of hip dysplasia. Still, males with hip dysplasia tend to have a higher incidence of concomitant hip deformities, including CAM deformities, which relate to previously discussed labral tear articles we’ve written.

Luckily, Exercise can play a significant part in easing the symptoms and improving the quality of life for individuals with hip dysplasia.

Integrating effective exercises into daily routines can not only help alleviate pain but also increase hip stability and mobility. Engaging in sports or activities beneficial for hip dysplasia while taking necessary safety measures can further amplify the positive effects. It is important to note that severe cases of hip dysplasia may require surgical intervention or other treatments, and incorporating physical therapy under the guidance of a professional is crucial for a safe and successful recovery.

Key Takeaways

  • Strengthening exercises play a significant role in managing adult hip dysplasia symptoms.
  • Incorporating beneficial activities and safety measures can enhance the outcome.
  • In severe cases, surgical treatments and physical therapy are essential for recovery.

Understanding Hip Dysplasia in Adults

Hip dysplasia is a condition where the anatomy of your hip joint is abnormal, causing the hip socket to be shallow or misaligned. This can lead to instability, pain, and eventually arthritis. In adults, hip dysplasia is the most common cause of hip arthritis before the age of 50 1.

The symptoms of adult hip dysplasia can vary, but common signs include pain in the groin, buttocks, or thigh area. This pain can be exacerbated during physical activity or prolonged periods of sitting.

Diagnosing adult hip dysplasia involves a thorough physical examination by a healthcare professional, considering your medical history and symptoms. Imaging techniques, such as X-rays or MRI scans, may also be used to visualize the hip joint and confirm the diagnosis 2.

Understanding the anatomy of the hip joint is crucial for recognizing why hip dysplasia occurs and how it can be treated. Your hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint, where the round head of the femur (the ball) fits into the acetabulum (the socket) in your pelvis. In a healthy hip joint, the ball and socket are both smooth and well-aligned, allowing for smooth movement and stability. In hip dysplasia, the shape or positioning of the ball and socket may be abnormal, leading to poor alignment and increased wear on the joint 3.

To manage hip dysplasia, it’s essential to incorporate appropriate strengthening exercises for the muscles around your hip joint. These exercises can help improve joint stability and reduce pain. Some examples of effective exercises include glute bridges, clamshells, and isometric gluteus medius activation 4.

In conclusion, understanding hip dysplasia in adults is crucial for early diagnosis, effective treatment, and prevention of long-term issues, such as arthritis. By recognizing the symptoms, learning about the hip joint’s anatomy, and incorporating suitable strengthening exercises, you can work towards managing this condition and maintaining an active, pain-free lifestyle.



Impact of Hip Dysplasia on Daily Activities

Hip dysplasia can cause significant discomfort and challenges, impacting your ability to perform daily activities. The misalignment in the hip joint leads to uneven distribution of pressure, often causing pain and limiting mobility.

Experiencing hip pain is a common symptom of hip dysplasia, which can become more pronounced when partaking in activities such as walking and sitting. The increased pressure on the hip joint due to improper alignment may exacerbate the pain, making these routine tasks difficult to perform.

As a result of this pain and discomfort, you might develop a noticeable limp while walking. This adjustment in your gait can place added stress on other joints, such as the knee and ankle, potentially leading to further pain and complications over time.

In addition to walking, hip dysplasia can also affect your ability to sit for extended periods comfortably. Sitting may aggravate the pain, especially when seated in chairs with little support or poor ergonomics. This, in turn, can hinder your daily activities, such as work, travel, or leisure time.

Your overall mobility could be significantly impacted by hip dysplasia, reducing your capacity to participate in physical activities like sports or exercise. This limited range of motion can make it challenging to maintain an active lifestyle, which is crucial for overall health and well-being.

To summarize, hip dysplasia affects various aspects of daily life, including walking, sitting, and maintaining an active lifestyle. It is essential to seek appropriate treatment and engage in specific exercises to help manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life.

The Role of Exercises in Strengthening the Hips

When dealing with adult hip dysplasia, incorporating targeted exercises into your daily routine can be beneficial in strengthening your hip muscles and improving your overall mobility. By focusing on key movement patterns and working on balance, flexibility, and strength, you can effectively alleviate some of the discomfort and challenges associated with this condition.

One important aspect of strengthening hips is increasing your hip joint’s range of motion. Exercises such as Frankenstein walks, and standing leg raises can help improve your flexibility and make everyday movements like climbing stairs and walking more comfortable.

Another crucial component in improving hip strength is engaging and activating your gluteal muscles. Exercises like squats and hip thrusts target these essential muscles and can contribute to better overall hip stability and support. One of our favorite exercises for hip dysplasia is a single-leg bridge because of how much strength and stability it improves.

Barbell Squats for Hip Strength

Additionally, working on your balance and core stability can benefit individuals with hip dysplasia. Exercises such as walking lunges and one-leg squats and reach challenge your body’s ability to maintain control and stability, leading to stronger hip muscles and better movement patterns.

By incorporating a variety of these strengthening exercises into your routine, you’re taking proactive steps to improve your hip muscle strength, balance, and flexibility, ultimately making a positive impact on your overall mobility and quality of life.

The Most Effective Exercises for Hip Dysplasia

Incorporating specific exercises into your routine can help alleviate the discomfort caused by adult hip dysplasia. These exercises focus on strengthening the muscles around your hips and improving overall flexibility. Here are some recommended exercises to help manage hip dysplasia.

1. Bridge Exercise
The bridge is an effective exercise for targeting your gluteus medius and lower back muscles. To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your hips off the floor, keeping your feet and shoulders planted. Hold this position for a few seconds, then lower your hips back. Repeat this for 10-12 repetitions, gradually increasing the hold time as you build strength. For additional gluteus medius activation, you can use a resistance band around your knees during this exercise, as mentioned on Hip Dysplasia Physio.

2. Lunges
Lunges help strengthen your hip muscles and promote hip joint stability. To do a lunge, stand with your feet hip-width apart and take a step forward, lowering your back knee towards the ground. Ensure your front knee is directly above your ankle and avoid leaning forward or backward. Push through your front heel to return to your starting position. Alternate legs and aim for 10-12 lunges on each side.

lunge exercise

3. Squats
Squats are a functional exercise for strengthening your hips, thighs, and glutes. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly bend your knees, lowering your hips as if sitting in a chair. Keep your back straight, and ensure your knees don’t extend beyond your toes. Return to the standing position and perform 10-12 repetitions.

4. Deadlifts
Deadlifts primarily target your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back muscles. Using a lightweight barbell or two dumbbells, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grip the weight with both hands. Maintain a slight bend in your knees and hinge at your hips to lower the weight, keeping it close to your body. Engage your glutes and hamstrings to return to the standing position. Complete 10-12 reps at a comfortable weight.

5. Stretching Exercises
In addition to strengthening exercises, it’s essential to incorporate stretching exercises into your routine. Stretching can help alleviate tightness and improve mobility in your hip joints. Some beneficial stretches include seated or standing hamstring stretches, hip flexor stretches, and butterfly stretches. Aim to hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat two to three times on each side.

Figure 4 stretch for hip range of motion

Sports and Activities Beneficial for Hip Dysplasia

If you’re looking for activities to improve your hip dysplasia condition, several low-impact exercises can be beneficial. The key is to engage in activities that help strengthen and stabilize the hip muscles without causing excessive strain on the joint.

Swimming is an excellent choice for those with hip dysplasia. The buoyancy of the water can help alleviate some of the weight and pressure off your hips, allowing you to perform movements with less pain and discomfort. Swimming can help improve your cardiovascular fitness, as well as strengthen your hip, leg, and core muscles. Additionally, water exercises like aqua aerobics offer a fun way to stay active while working on joint flexibility and muscle strength.

Cycling is another low-impact exercise that is gentle on your hips. Riding a bike can help build up your leg muscles, improve cardiovascular fitness, and strengthen the muscles surrounding your hip joint. Choose a stationary bike or a bike in a trainer for added support and comfort while pedaling.

Cycling on a bike trainer

Rowing can be a beneficial activity for those with hip dysplasia, as it places minimal impact on the hip joints. Using a rowing machine or participating in water-based rowing engages your entire body, targeting your hips, legs, and core muscles, and can improve both muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance.

When considering sports, it is essential to avoid high-impact activities that can put excessive pressure on your hips or involve sudden twisting or pivoting movements. Instead, opt for low-impact sports like golf, doubles tennis, or recreational walking. Be sure to listen to your body and modify movements as necessary.

In general, avoid participating in high-impact sports or activities that may exacerbate your symptoms, such as running, contact sports, or jumping exercises. By focusing on low-impact exercises, you can work toward improved hip health while reducing your risk of further injury or discomfort.

Safety Measures While Exercising

When exercising to strengthen your hips, especially if you have adult hip dysplasia, it’s important to take certain safety measures to prevent injury and ensure you get the most out of your workouts.

Firstly, always warm up before starting your exercise regimen. Warming up helps to increase blood flow to the muscles and improve your range of motion. This prepares your body for more intense exercises and reduces the risk of injury.

Next, incorporate exercises that help to stabilize your hips. Strengthening the surrounding muscles will provide additional support to the hip joint, reducing the likelihood of discomfort or injury. Exercises such as standing hip abduction can be beneficial in this regard.

Standing Hip Abduction

Using a resistance band during your exercises can be an excellent tool for ensuring proper form and increasing the effectiveness of your workout. The added resistance provided by the band can help target and strengthen specific muscle groups around the hip joint, leading to improved stability. Ensure you choose the appropriate resistance level for your fitness level and gradually progress as you become stronger.

Avoid pushing yourself too hard or too quickly, as this can lead to injury. Pay attention to your body and any signs of discomfort. It’s crucial to maintain a balance between challenging yourself and listening to your body’s limitations.

Incorporating stretching exercises into your routine can aid in improving your range of motion and flexibility. This will help you maintain healthy hip joints and prevent injury. Stretching should be done after your workout when your muscles are warmed up, as stretching cold muscles can lead to injury.

As a reminder, proper form is essential when performing exercises for hip dysplasia. Using a mirror or recording your exercise sessions can help you identify any areas where you may need to correct your form in order to prevent injury and maximize the benefits of your workout.

Surgery and Other Treatments for Hip Dysplasia

When dealing with hip dysplasia, surgery is often a recommended treatment option only after all of the conservative treatments have been exhausted, especially for adults. There are different surgical procedures available, and your orthopedic surgeon will determine the best approach based on your specific condition and needs.

One option is hip preservation surgery, which aims to preserve your natural hip joint by addressing the underlying cause of hip dysplasia, such as abnormal bone alignment. Periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) is a common hip preservation procedure that involves cutting and repositioning the hip socket to improve joint stability and reduce pain. This surgery may help slow down joint deterioration and delay the need for a total hip replacement.

In more severe cases, total hip replacement or hip replacement surgery may be necessary. This involves removing the damaged parts of your hip joint and replacing them with artificial components made of metal, plastic, or ceramic materials. This type of surgery is generally recommended for patients with advanced hip dysplasia and significant joint damage who have not found relief through less invasive treatments.

In addition to surgical options, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend medications to help manage pain and inflammation. Common medications for hip dysplasia include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroid injections. Corticosteroid injections can temporarily relieve pain and inflammation, typically lasting three to six months.

As you discuss treatment options with your orthopedic surgeon, it’s essential to weigh the risks and benefits of each option carefully. The goal of treatment is not only to alleviate pain but also to improve your overall quality of life and preserve the function of your hip joint for as long as possible.

Before resorting to surgery, it’s important to explore non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy and lifestyle modifications. Strengthening exercises focused on your hip muscles may help improve joint stability and alleviate pain.

The Effect of Weight and Body Conditioning

When dealing with adult hip dysplasia, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in appropriate body conditioning can significantly impact the severity of your symptoms and overall quality of life.

For both men and women, carrying excess weight can exacerbate the pain and discomfort associated with hip dysplasia. Weight-bearing activities, such as walking and jogging, place additional strain on the hip joint. By focusing on weight loss, you can reduce the stress on your affected hip and potentially alleviate some of the associated pain.

Walking places up to 3x your body weight through the hip during midstance while jogging can place loads up to 5x your body weight,caused%20magnitudes%20of%20720%25%20BW.

In addition, engaging in low-impact activities, such as swimming or cycling, can offer further benefits. These options allow you to continue strengthening your muscles and improving cardiovascular fitness while minimizing the impact on your hip joint.

Any discussion on weight management would not be complete without mentioning diet and calorie restriction. Exercise alone has yet to be shown effective in long-term weight loss. Lifestyle modification and caloric restriction have to be a part of the plan as well.

Remember, weight management and suitable body conditioning can play a significant role in managing adult hip dysplasia and improving your overall well-being.

Importance of Physical Therapy for Hip Dysplasia

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in managing and improving the symptoms of adult hip dysplasia. It aims to strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip joint, improve flexibility, and enhance joint stability. With the guidance of an experienced physical therapist, you can incorporate appropriate exercises and stretches into your daily routine.

In many cases, effective physical therapy can help you avoid or delay the need for surgery. Beginning a regimen of strengthening exercises designed for hip dysplasia patients can alleviate pain, improve your range of motion, and increase overall strength. The selection of exercises should be tailored to your specific needs to ensure optimal results.

When working with a physical therapist, they will assess your current mobility and any functional limitations. Based on their evaluations, they will create a personalized plan to address your unique situation. This may include both stretching and strength-building exercises for improved joint support.

Physical Therapy for Hip

Consistency is essential when it comes to physical therapy for hip dysplasia. Make sure to prioritize your exercise routine and follow your physical therapist’s recommendations diligently.

In conclusion, physical therapy is an indispensable element in managing adult hip dysplasia. By working closely with a knowledgeable physical therapist and committing to a consistent, relevant exercise routine, you can significantly improve your quality of life and minimize the impact of hip dysplasia on your daily activities.

Frequently Asked Questions


Incorporating strengthening exercises into your routine can significantly improve your experience with adult hip dysplasia. By focusing on exercises that target the muscles surrounding the hip joint, you can help stabilize the joint, alleviate pain, and improve overall hip function.

Start with gentle exercises and gradually progress as your strength and comfort allow. Some effective exercises include bridge variations, clamshells, and leg raises. It is essential to maintain proper form and avoid overexerting yourself. If unsure, consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist for personalized guidance.

Additionally, consider adjusting your everyday lifestyle, such as modifying your seat height, reducing sitting time, minimizing hip sway, and altering your exercise volume. These small changes can have a significant impact on your symptoms and overall well-being.

Lastly, it is crucial to remember that while strengthening exercises can be highly beneficial, they may not entirely replace the need for medical interventions, such as injections or surgical procedures, in some cases. Always consult with your healthcare provider to develop the most effective and comprehensive treatment plan for your specific needs.

About the Author

Sarah Johnson, DPT, CSCS
Sarah Johnson is a licensed physical therapist with over 10 years of experience in the field. She specializes in sports rehabilitation and has worked with athletes at all levels, from high school to semi-professional. Sarah is passionate about helping her patients recover from injuries and achieve their goals through physical therapy and functional-based medicine. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis and hiking.