The Best Exercises for Hip Synovitis: Effective Relief Strategies

The Best Exercises for Hip Synovitis

Hip synovitis is characterized by inflammation of the synovial membrane within the hip joint, leading to pain and discomfort. Individuals suffering from this issue often experience difficulty performing daily activities, impacting their overall quality of life. The good news is that by engaging in the right exercises and stretches, individuals can find relief from hip synovitis and improve their mobility.

Understanding and managing hip synovitis is crucial to ensure timely treatment and prevent potential complications. Incorporating specific exercises into your daily routine can strengthen the muscles around your hip joint and promote faster healing. Physical therapy, a balanced diet, and mental health support can also play a significant role in managing hip synovitis and improving your overall well-being.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular exercises can help manage hip synovitis and improve mobility
  • Physical therapy and a balanced diet are essential for overall well-being
  • Mental health support aids in managing hip synovitis and promoting recovery

Understanding Hip Synovitis

Hip synovitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the synovial tissue lining your hip joint, often causing joint pain and swelling. This condition can result from injury, chronic inflammation, or be secondary to other joint diseases, such as arthritis or osteoarthritis.

When you experience hip synovitis, you might notice some key symptoms:

  • Hip pain, especially during exercise or at rest
  • Pain that becomes worse with walking
  • Discomfort that radiates into your knee joint
  • Nighttime pain
  • Possible low-grade fever

Synovitis in the hip shares some similarities with other joint conditions, but the main distinguishing factor is the inflammation in the synovial lining.

To manage hip synovitis, reducing inflammation and improving joint function is essential. You can do that through at-home care and your healthcare provider’s prescribed treatments. Incorporating gentle exercises and stretches into your daily routine will help alleviate pain, maintain joint mobility, and prevent the condition from becoming chronic.

Remember, dealing with hip synovitis involves more than just relieving pain. By understanding your condition, addressing the root cause, and implementing appropriate treatment strategies, you can effectively manage symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Causes and Stages of Hip Synovitis

Hip Synovitis is a condition characterized by inflammation in the synovial membrane of the hip joint. This of the synovial membrane as a saran wraps around the outside of our joints. It keeps the joints separated from the rest of the body and helps maintain pressure in the joint.

The Best Exercises for Hip Synovitis: Effective Relief Strategies

Understanding the causes and stages of hip synovitis is important to effectively address the issue and find the most suitable exercises for your recovery journey.

One of the most common causes of hip synovitis is wear and tear of the weight-bearing joints and surrounding ligaments and tendons, which can result from overuse or repetitive stress movements. This is often seen in athletes or individuals who frequently lift or squat. Chronic diseases, such as inflammatory arthritis, can also predispose you to hip synovitis 1.

Another potential cause of synovitis in the hip is hip arthritis, which can lead to joint cartilage loss and contribute to inflammation. In some cases, a viral infection such as an upper respiratory infection or bronchitis may trigger hip synovitis, particularly in children 2.

The progression of hip synovitis can be categorized into stages based on the severity of inflammation and the condition’s overall impact on your hip function.

  • Stage 1: Mild inflammation with minimal discomfort during movements and daily activities.
  • Stage 2: Moderate inflammation with increasing pain and discomfort during activities or rest. You may experience some limitations in your range of motion.
  • Stage 3: Severe inflammation and pain significantly affecting your ability to perform daily activities and may require intervention or treatment to manage the symptoms effectively.
  • Stage 4: Chronic synovitis continues to cause discomfort and limitations even after managing the symptoms with appropriate treatment and exercise.

Understanding these stages and recognizing the signs of hip synovitis will enable you to take proactive measures for alleviating discomfort and regaining joint mobility. Footnotes

  1. Synovitis: Joint Lining Inflammation Causes & Treatments | HSS
  2. Synovitis of the Hip: Causes & Treatment | Columbus, OH – OrthoNeuro

Diagnosis and Consultation of Hip Synovitis

When experiencing hip pain, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider, as they can determine whether you have hip synovitis or another condition.

A physical therapist will conduct a thorough examination to eliminate other possible causes of your hip discomfort. Your healthcare provider might use diagnostic tools such as an ultrasound, X-ray, or a complete blood count to assess your hip joint. In some cases, they may require a bone scan or aspiration of the hip joint fluid (source).

MRI of hip synovitis

Once your healthcare provider has confirmed a diagnosis of hip synovitis, it’s crucial to discuss your treatment options. They will likely recommend seeing a physical therapist who can guide you through a personalized exercise and rehabilitation program addressing your needs. Working closely with your physical therapist will ensure you engage in the best exercises to alleviate pain and improve your hip joint function.

During your consultation, your physical therapist will educate you on the various exercises and their benefits. They will also monitor your progress and may adjust the exercise routine as needed. Always follow their instructions carefully and communicate your experience throughout the rehab process, as this will help you achieve optimal results and accelerate your recovery.

Managing Hip Synovitis

Hip synovitis can cause pain and discomfort, affecting your daily activities. To effectively manage this condition, consider incorporating recommended exercises along with the following strategies:

Rest: Giving your hip joint ample rest is essential for recovery. Avoid activities such as prolonged walking or intense exercises that aggravate your hip pain. Modify your daily routine to include more low-impact activities, which will help alleviate the stress on your hip joint.

Ice: Applying ice to your affected hip can help reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. Use a cold pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel to protect your skin. Apply the ice to your hip for 20 minutes several times a day. We typically recommend using ice for more pain control than swelling management.

Anti-inflammatory medication: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation associated with hip synovitis. Consult your doctor for guidance on the appropriate dosage and usage.

Exercises for hip synovitis: Along with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication, specific exercises and stretches targeting your hip joint can help improve your condition. Some beneficial exercises for hip synovitis include:

  • Hip flexor stretches: Gently stretch your hip flexors to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness. While lying on your back, bring one knee toward your chest and hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times on each side.
  • Glute bridge: To strengthen your gluteus muscles, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Slowly lift your hips off the ground while keeping your feet and shoulders in contact with the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your hips back down. Perform 8-12 repetitions.
  • Clamshell exercise: Lying on your side with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle, keeping your feet together, and lifting your top knee, opening your legs like a clamshell. Keep your hips stable during the movement. Perform 10-15 repetitions on each side.
Clamshell with band
Clamshell Exercise

Physical Therapy for Hip Synovitis

Incorporating physical therapy into your routine can help alleviate hip synovitis symptoms, improve mobility, and protect your hip joint. Increasing your range of motion and strengthening the muscles around your hip will provide better support and stability. Below is a mix of stretching and strength exercises that can benefit you.

Start by incorporating gentle stretching exercises into your daily routine. These can improve your range of motion and loosen tight muscles around the hip joint. Some effective stretches for hip synovitis include the Hip Flexor Stretch and the glute cross-body stretch. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds, and repeat them 2-3 times on each side.

Glute and piriformis Stretch
Glute Stretch for Hip Synovitis

Another key component of physical therapy is strength exercises. Building muscle strength can help to stabilize the hip joint and improve overall mobility.

The other key component of strengthening for hip synovitis is pushing the swelling out of the joint while you exercise. This light pressure and increased blood flow from exercise is a great way to speed up healing.

Examples of strength exercises include:

  • Bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the ground, keeping your feet and shoulders in place. Lower your hips back down and repeat 10-15 times.
  • Single-Leg Bridges: Perform the above bridge exercise with one leg extended straight out. This increases the challenge and targets the hip muscles more specifically. Repeat 10-15 times on each leg.
  • Press Ups: Lie face-down on the ground and place your hands near your shoulders. Press your upper body up, leaving your hips and legs on the ground. Lower yourself back down, and repeat 10-15 times.
Single leg bridge
Single leg bridge

In addition to these exercises, consider incorporating gentle aerobic exercises on your hip joint, such as walking, bicycling, swimming, or using an elliptical machine. These activities can help build endurance, improve cardiovascular health, and decrease fatigue.

Specific Stretching Exercises

Incorporating targeted stretching exercises into your routine can help alleviate hip synovitis pain and increase mobility. Here are some effective stretches to consider.

Hip flexor stretch: This stretch targets the muscles at the front of your hip and thigh. To perform this stretch, kneel on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor in front of you. Slowly lean forward into a lunge position until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip on the leg that’s kneeling. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, and then switch sides. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Butterfly stretch: This stretch helps to open up your hip joints and inner thigh muscles. Sit on the floor with your feet together and knees bent outward. Grasp your feet with your hands and gently press your knees toward the floor using your elbows. Lean forward slightly, keeping your back straight. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, and repeat 3 times.

Figure four stretch: This stretch targets the muscles that support the hip joint, including your glutes and piriformis. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, forming a “figure four.” Pull your left knee towards your chest, while keeping your right ankle flexed to protect your knee joint. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Perform this stretch 3 times on each side.

Figure 4 stretch for hip range of motion

Recommended Activities

Incorporating low-impact exercises into your routine can help alleviate pain and improve mobility if you are dealing with hip synovitis. Here are some recommended activities that are gentle on your hips while providing the necessary movement for better joint function.

Walking: This great, low-impact exercise improves hip mobility and overall health. Start with short distances and gradually increase your walking time as your body allows. Maintaining a consistent walking routine will help to strengthen the muscles surrounding your hip joints, providing support and increased stability source.

Swimming: Water-based exercises like swimming and water aerobics offer excellent options for those experiencing hip synovitis. The water’s buoyancy provides support, relieving pressure on the joints and allowing you to move more freely. Swimming works your hip muscles and helps to improve your flexibility without putting unnecessary strain on the joint source.

Biking: Cycling can be an effective exercise option for hip synovitis, as it is low-impact and allows for a smooth range of motion. Riding a stationary bike or pedaling outdoors on a traditional bicycle will help to strengthen your hip muscles and support the joint. However, always ensure your bike is properly adjusted and use appropriate gear for safety and comfort source.

In addition to these activities, it can be beneficial to incorporate hip-specific exercises and stretches that target muscles such as hip flexors, abductors, and rotators. Exercises like knee lifts, external hip rotation, and heel-to-buttock can help improve the joint’s flexibility and reduce pain source.

Role of Muscles and Joints

Hip muscles play a vital role in stabilizing the joint and enabling movement. The primary hip muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, iliopsoas, and the tensor fasciae latae. They are responsible for movements such as hip flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction.

Gluteus Maximus: This large muscle helps in extending and rotating the hip. It plays a prominent role in supporting the joint during various activities, such as running, jumping, and climbing stairs.

Gluteus Medius: Located on the side of the hip, this muscle is essential for hip abduction, moving the leg away from the body. It also contributes to hip stability when walking or standing on one leg.

Iliopsoas: The iliopsoas is the primary hip flexor composed of two muscles, the Iliacus and Psoas Major. It enables the lifting of the thigh towards the chest and is involved in maintaining an upright posture.

Tensor Fasciae Latae: This muscle assists in hip flexion, abduction, and internal rotation. It works closely with the other hip muscles to stabilize the joint during weight-bearing activities.

Healthy hip joints are crucial for daily activities without pain or discomfort. However, hip synovitis can cause inflammation and pain, restricting mobility. Timely intervention can help prevent further complications, such as hip replacement surgery.

Role of Diet in Managing Hip Synovitis

A well-balanced diet is crucial in managing hip synovitis and improving overall joint health. Incorporating certain foods and nutrients into your daily meals can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain caused by this condition.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, and walnuts, are known to reduce inflammation in the body. Including these foods in your diet can help manage hip synovitis symptoms more effectively. Conversely, minimizing your consumption of foods high in omega-6 fatty acids – found in vegetable oils and processed foods – may also decrease inflammation and pain.

Fruits and vegetables packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, like berries, cherries, spinach, and kale, can contribute to relieving hip synovitis symptoms. These foods contain essential vitamins and minerals that support joint health and help your body repair damaged tissues.

Incorporating whole grains into your meals is another way to improve your joint health. Replace refined grains such as white rice and white bread with brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread. Whole grains are rich in fiber, which can help reduce inflammation.

Stay adequately hydrated throughout the day, as proper hydration is essential for joint lubrication and overall joint function. Drinking water can also help flush out toxins and waste products, reducing inflammation.

In addition to specific foods, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in managing hip synovitis pain. Excess weight puts unnecessary stress on the joints, exacerbating your symptoms. Combining a well-balanced diet with regular exercise can significantly contribute to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Avoid foods high in sugar or foods that spike your insulin levels. Diabetes and high blood sugar levels increase joint inflammation, making the ligamentous capsule sticky and hard to stretch out. This can and does prolong the healing process and help regain the necessary range of motion.

Mental Health and Hip Synovitis

Hip synovitis can not only impact your physical well-being but also your mental health. The pain and limited mobility caused by hip synovitis can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness. A crucial aspect of dealing with hip synovitis is addressing mental health concerns, particularly depression.

It’s important to recognize the signs of depression, which include persistent sadness, loss of interest, changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness. Acknowledging these feelings is the first step towards better mental health.

As you navigate through the physical challenges of hip synovitis, be mindful of your mental well-being. Incorporate daily mental health practices into your routine, such as meditation, deep breathing, journaling, and engaging in enjoyable activities. Connecting with friends and family and talking about your feelings can provide emotional support.

In addition to these practices, regular exercise is essential. Exercise can help alleviate the pain and stiffness associated with hip synovitis and also release endorphins, which are “feel-good” hormones. Focus on low-impact exercises that are gentle on your joints, such as swimming, cycling, and yoga.

If you believe you are struggling with depression due to hip synovitis, seeking professional help is crucial. A mental health professional can guide on coping strategies and, if necessary, recommend treatment options such as therapy or medication.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are effective low-impact exercises for hip synovitis?

Low-impact aerobic exercises can be beneficial for people with hip synovitis. These exercises help improve overall fitness without significant stress on the hip joint. Some low-impact activities include swimming, cycling, and walking. It is essential to start slow and gradually increase the duration and intensity of the exercise, always listening to your body and stopping if pain increases.

Which physical therapy exercises help with hip pain?

Several physical therapy exercises can help manage hip pain associated with synovitis. Strengthening and stabilizing the hip muscles can provide support for the affected joint. Some effective exercises include:

  • Clamshells: Lie on your side with knees bent to 90 degrees, and stack your hip and shoulder. Raise your top knee while keeping your feet together. Lower the knee slowly and repeat.
  • Single-leg bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent, lift one leg, and raise your hips toward the ceiling.
  • Standing hip abduction: While standing, lift your leg out to the side, keeping your foot flexed and toes pointing forward. Lower the leg and repeat.

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regimen.

How can I relieve hip pain after exercising?

After exercising, it is essential to cool down properly to help alleviate hip pain. Some methods for relieving hip pain after exercise include:

  • Applying ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes reduces inflammation and numb pain.
  • Engaging in gentle stretching exercises to promote flexibility and prevent stiffness.
  • Elevating the painful hip while resting can help reduce swelling.
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications as recommended by a healthcare professional.

Are there specific stretches for hip synovitis?

Yes, some stretches can target the hip area and relieve hip synovitis. These stretches primarily focus on the muscles surrounding the joint:

  • Hip flexor stretch: Kneel on one knee, placing the other foot flat on the ground in front. Push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your hip flexor.
  • Piriformis stretch: Sit on the ground with one leg extended and the other crossed over the knee. Gently pull your raised knee towards your chest.
  • Seated hamstring stretch: Sit on a firm surface with one leg extended and the other bent. Reach for the toes of the extended leg, keeping your back straight.

Remember to hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and perform them regularly.

What is the recommended treatment for hip synovitis in adults?

The treatment for hip synovitis in adults often involves a combination of approaches. This may include rest, pain management, and physical therapy exercises. In some cases, a healthcare professional may prescribe medication or anti-inflammatory injections to reduce symptoms. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider for specific recommendations regarding your personal situation.

How can exercises improve hips and thighs while managing synovitis?

Exercises focusing on strengthening the hip and thigh muscles can provide stability and support to the affected hip joint. Regular exercise can also improve overall joint mobility and reduce inflammation associated with synovitis. Some effective exercises for hips and thighs include:

  • Squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and lower your hips back and down as if sitting in a chair.
  • Lunges: Step forward with one foot, bending both knees to create a 90-degree angle, keeping your front knee behind the toes.
  • Step-ups: Find a step or low bench and step onto it with one foot, followed by the other, before stepping back down.

Exercising regularly and using the proper form can help improve the strength and stability of the hips and thighs while managing hip synovitis.


Incorporating exercises into your routine can be highly beneficial for individuals dealing with hip synovitis. To manage and alleviate your symptoms, it’s important to focus on stretching and strengthening exercises for the hip area.

Stretching exercises, such as a Standing Hip Flexor Stretch and Seated Butterfly Stretch, can help improve flexibility and reduce tightness around the hip joint. It is crucial to perform these stretches gently and gradually to avoid worsening the symptoms.

In addition to stretching, strengthening exercises are essential to rebuild the muscles that support the hip joint. A few effective options include the Clamshell Exercise and Bridges. By incorporating these exercises consistently, you’ll help to increase stability and support for the affected hip, reducing pain and inflammation over time.

Furthermore, staying consistent with these exercises and gradually increasing their intensity will help improve your hip mobility and strength. It’s essential to listen to your body and modify the exercises if needed, to ensure you don’t aggravate your symptoms.

In conclusion, implementing these stretching and strengthening exercises into your daily routine can make a significant difference in managing hip synovitis. With dedication and consistency, you can work towards reducing pain and improving overall hip function, leading to a better quality of life.

About the Author

James C. Lee DPT, SCS, CSCS
James is a native of Limestone, TN. He attended the University of Tennessee, receiving his BS in Health and Exercise Science and completing his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Saint Augustine. James worked as a traveling physical therapist and treats various patients with a specialty in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. James is a board-certified Sports Physical Therapist and a Strength and Conditioning Specialist and is certified in Functional Dry Needling, Running Gait Analysis, and Blood Flow Restriction Therapy. James contributes his expertise to physical therapy websites and other guest appearances.