External Hip Rotation Exercises for Injury Prevention



Proper hip mobility and stability are essential for overall lower body function and injury prevention. One key aspect of hip function is external rotation, which refers to the ability of the hip joint to rotate outward. Weakness or limited range of motion in external hip rotation can lead to imbalances, compensations, and increased risk of injuries such as hip impingement, IT band syndrome, and knee pain.

The Importance of External Hip Rotation

External hip rotation plays a crucial role in maintaining proper alignment and function of the lower body. It helps to stabilize the hip joint, improve balance, and distribute forces evenly during movements such as walking, running, and squatting. By strengthening the muscles responsible for external hip rotation, you can enhance your athletic performance, reduce the risk of injuries, and improve overall hip function.

External Hip Rotation Exercises

1. Clamshells

Clamshells are a classic exercise for targeting the external rotators of the hip, particularly the gluteus medius. To perform this exercise:

  1. Lie on your side with your knees bent and your feet together.
  2. Keeping your feet touching, lift your top knee as high as you can without rotating your pelvis.
  3. Lower your knee back down and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

2. Standing External Rotations

This exercise targets the muscles responsible for external hip rotation while standing, which is more functional for everyday activities. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a resistance band looped around your knees.
  2. Keeping your core engaged, slowly rotate your knees outward against the resistance of the band.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

3. Fire Hydrants

Fire hydrants are a great exercise for targeting the gluteus medius and other hip muscles. Follow these steps:

  1. Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Keeping your knee bent, lift one leg out to the side, keeping your hip and knee at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Lower your leg back down and repeat on the other side.

4. Side-Lying Leg Lifts

This exercise targets the hip abductors, including the gluteus medius and minimus. Here’s how to perform side-lying leg lifts:

  1. Lie on your side with your legs straight and stacked on top of each other.
  2. Engage your core and lift your top leg as high as you can without rotating your pelvis.
  3. Lower your leg back down and repeat on the other side.

5. Pigeon Pose

Pigeon pose is a yoga stretch that helps to open up the hips and increase external rotation range of motion. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start in a high plank position.
  2. Bring your right knee forward and place it on the ground behind your right wrist.
  3. Extend your left leg straight back behind you, keeping your hips square.
  4. Lower your upper body down and rest your forearms on the ground or a block.
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.


Incorporating external hip rotation exercises into your workout routine can help improve hip mobility, stability, and reduce the risk of injuries. Whether you’re an athlete or just looking to maintain healthy hips, these exercises are a valuable addition to your fitness regimen. Remember to start with proper form and gradually increase intensity as your strength and range of motion improve. Consult with a healthcare professional or a certified trainer if you have any underlying conditions or concerns before starting a new exercise program.

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