How To Realign Hips: 4 Hip Alignment Exercises Proven To Work

Even if you are relatively sedentary and do not find that hip pain interferes with your exercise routine, you may experience functional limitations with sitting, standing, walking, and climbing stairs that alert you to the fact that your hips may be out of alignment. 

But, how do you know if you have hip alignment issues? What are the symptoms of hip alignment problems? More importantly, what are the best exercises to align hips?

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of hip alignment issues as well as how to realign hips by providing step-by-step instructions for some of the best hip alignment exercises.

We will cover the following: 

  • Why Having the Correct Hip Alignment Matters
  • Symptoms of Misaligned Hips
  • How To Realign Hips: The 4 Best Hip Alignment Exercises

Let’s jump in!

Leg swings to realign hips.

Why Having the Correct Hip Alignment Matters

Before we get into specific hip alignment exercises and strategies for how to realign hips, it’s helpful to discuss why having proper hip alignment matters.

When you think about the human body, the hips are essentially right at the very center of your body.

Therefore, your hip alignment influences the alignment of your pelvis, which in turn affects the entire alignment of your lower body as well as your torso above your pelvis.

As a key connection point between the upper body and lower body and axial skeleton and appendicular skeleton, misaligned hips can lead to alignment issues both up and down the kinetic chain.

For example, if you have improper hip alignment, it will affect knee alignment as well as the alignment of your shin, ankle, and foot complex.

This can lead to an increased risk of injuries such as iliotibial band syndrome, runners knee, osteoarthritis of the knee if left uncorrected for an extended period of time, shin splints, and excessive pronation of the foot, among others.

Similarly, hip misalignment can cause postural problems and issues with proper final alignment when sitting, and especially when standing, walking, and running.

How To Realign Hips: 4 Hip Alignment Exercises Proven To Work 1

Having improper hip alignment will impede the stability of your core muscles and the ability of your core to maintain proper posture and equal weight distribution on your legs when you stand, walk, run, or perform weight-bearing exercises.

This is because the hips help support the weight of the upper body and help transfer the weight uniformly to the legs.

If your hips are not aligned properly, this weight distribution will be uneven, which will cause differences in the magnitude and direction of force applied to each leg when you stand or move. 

Again, this will significantly increase the risk of injury while simultaneously compromising efficiency, power, and economy for activities like walking, running, and cycling.

When we think about hip alignment problems, we usually consider the hip alignment from just the frontal plane.

In other words, misaligned hips may be evidenced by one hip being slightly higher or lower than the other hip, with concurrent contraction, overactivation, and tightness in some muscle groups and over-stretching, overactivity, and weakness in the opposing muscle groups or opposite hip.

However, it’s also important to evaluate for correct hip alignment in the other planes of motion as well. 

The hips also flex and extend and can be internally and externally rotated. If the pelvis is tilted or one hip is askew and positioned slightly more forward relative to the other one, or more internally rotated or externally rotated, there can also be functional consequences and an increased risk of injury.

A v up.

Symptoms of Misaligned Hips

Given the function of the hips in stabilizing the pelvis, common symptoms of hip alignment problems include the following:

  • Hip pain or tightness in the hips
  • Low back pain
  • IT band syndrome
  • Runners knee
  • Knee pain, ankle pain, and/or foot pain while running and walking 
  • Uneven height to your shoulders and hip crests
  • Uneven walking or running gait, or differences in the range of motion in your legs when you try to run or walk
  • Feeling like you have one leg that is longer than the other

How To Realign Hips: The 4 Best Hip Alignment Exercises

The best hip alignment exercises will address hip alignment in a 360° fashion to help ensure that the hips are in proper alignment in all directions of movement.

An isometric hold.

Performing hip alignment exercises can help correct imbalances in hip muscles that help stabilize the pelvis and control hip rotation and pelvic tilt

Exercises for hip alignment should therefore target the following:

  • Gluteus medius muscle
  • Gluteus maximus muscle
  • Piriformis muscle
  • Hip flexor muscle groups such as the iliopsoas
  • Proximal hamstrings and quads
  • The smaller hip rotators, like the gemellus muscles and obturator muscle
  • Deep core muscles

The best hip alignment exercises should not only help improve static and dynamic hip alignment but also pelvic and hip stability.

Here are some of the best exercises to correct hip alignment:

#1: Isometric Holds

An isometric hold.

This exercise can help realign hips as well as strengthen the hip musculature to support proper hip alignment.

  1. Lay on your back with your feet flat on the ground and knees bent.
  2. Lift one leg and pull it in towards your chest, grabbing behind your thigh.
  3. As you pull your leg to your chest with your hands, simultaneously use the muscles in your legs to push away. This will generate an isometric contraction, which means that you do not want to be moving the leg; rather, the degree of push and pull should balance one another.
  4. Pull with your hands as you push with your leg for 10 to 20 seconds.
  5. Then, change your hand position so that your hands are on the front of your thigh.
  6. Now, push your thigh away from your body with your hands while simultaneously using the muscles in your hips to draw the leg in towards your chest.
  7. Again, hold this isometric squeeze for 10 to 20 seconds.
  8. Repeat on the other leg.
  9. Perform three sets, gradually increasing the length of the hold and the force of the contractions.

 #2: 90-Degree Hip Rotations

This hip mobility exercise is one of the best at-home hip alignment exercises.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and a pillow sandwiched in between your two knees.
  2. Drop your legs as a unit to the right, keeping your knees bent to 90° and your shoulders pinned on the ground. If your shoulders pop up, do not drop your knees as far to the side.
  3. Use your abs and hip musculature to draw your legs back up to the starting position.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Perform 10 sets alternating back-and-forth from side to side. Move slowly and with control.

#3: Hip Swings

This hip mobility exercise works well in a hip alignment exercise routine because it helps increase the range of motion in the joint capsule and muscles surrounding the hip joint.

  1. Stand upright, holding onto a wall or table for support if necessary.
  2. Lift your right leg off of the ground. If possible, you can place a couple of heavy-duty books under your left leg so that you have some free and clear space under your right leg.
  3. Swing your right leg forward and back, gradually increasing the distance of the pendulum swing, making sure to keep your knee straight.
  4. Perform 10 to 15 hip swings.
  5. Then, keeping your knee straight, swing your right leg across to the left side of your body and then out to the far right side of your body.
  6. Again, perform 10 swings.
  7. Lastly, perform small hip circles with the right leg. Do 10 circles in the clockwise direction and 10 circles in the counterclockwise position.
  8. Repeat on the left leg.

#4: Pelvic Tilts

Pelvic tilt.

One of the most common hip alignment issues is an anterior tilt to the pelvis. This exercise helps restore proper pelvic positioning, which will bring your hips back into the correct alignment.

  1. Stand upright with your hands on your hips.
  2. Tilt your pelvis forward and hold for 3-5 seconds. 
  3. Then tilt backward and hold for 3-5 seconds.
  4. Complete 10-15 reps.

It’s important to remember that when you are looking into how to realign hips, you want to include exercises to align hips that improve hip alignment directly as well as strengthen the hip muscles that may be weak and stretch the hip muscles that may be overactive or tight and contributing to improperly aligned hips.

Getting an evaluation by a physical therapist or chiropractor is the best way to determine if you have misaligned hips and to help create a customized hip alignment treatment plan for how to align your hips.

For a list of hip stretches, click here.

How To Realign Hips: 4 Hip Alignment Exercises Proven To Work 2
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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