Hip Stabilization Exercises

by Meg Campbell


Relative to motion, your body contains two types of muscles: movers and stabilizers. Stabilizing muscles are the foundation for optimal movement, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, because they control motion and limit instability, or extra movement. Muscular endurance and stability are two elements of stabilization; both minimize joint stress and help maintain proper posture and alignment. Hip stabilization exercises target the gluteus medius and maximus and the hip’s rotator cuff.

Side-Lying Clam

Lie on your side with your knees bent so that the bottoms of your feet are in line with your back. Your pelvis should be perpendicular to the mat, which means that your top hip is “stacked” over your bottom hip. Rest your head on a small pillow so that your shoulders also stay stacked. Place your top hand on your hip as a way to monitor any hip movement. Draw your abdominals in by bringing your navel toward your spine. Keep your feet together and your pelvis stable as you lift your top knee. Return to the starting position with control.

Tabletop Leg Raise

Get into tabletop position on the mat, on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Relax your hand and spread your fingers to help stabilize your upper body. Ensure that your back is straight and your spine is neutral — neither arched nor rounded. Draw your navel back toward your spine to support your lower back. Lift one knee off the mat and extend the leg straight back. Your leg should be a visual continuation of the line of your back. Keep your hips quiet as you draw your knee back in and switch sides.

Side Leg Lifts

Leg lifts are similar to the side-lying clam exercise, but straight legs make them more challenging for the hip stabilizers. Lie on your side with your hips stacked. Rest your head on your shoulder with your arm extended overhead. Use your top arm to stabilize your upper body by placing your hand on the mat. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your toes. Engage your abdominals. Press your legs together and lift them off the mat without moving your upper body. Lower your legs without fully resting them on the mat between repetitions.

Leg Circles

Leg circles focus on abdominal muscles and hip flexors, and help develop pelvic-lumbar stabilization. Lie on the floor with your arms out to the sides in a “T” position. Gently point your toes, pressing your legs together. Activate your core. Draw one knee into your chest before extending your leg toward the ceiling. Push through the heel of your raised foot so that it's parallel to the floor; continue pointing your other foot. Circle your leg inward, across your body’s midline and back around. Make the circle as big as you can while maintaining stable hips. Perform five to 10 repetitions before reversing the direction of the circle, then switch sides.

References (2)

  • Optimum Performance Training for the Health and Fitness Professional; National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • Pilates; Rael Isacowitz

Photo Credits:

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.