Pelvic Drop Exercise to Improve Hip Strength
The muscles in the hips are important to help you perform many functional tasks, including walking, running, or rising from a chair. These muscles are also responsible for helping you walk up and down stairs.
Weakness in the hip muscles can cause a variety of problems in the body. Some problems that can be attributed to hip weakness include:
- Low back pain: Hip strengthening exercises may relieve some types of low back pain.
- Hip pain
- Knee pain: Hip strengthening has been found to help in some types of knee pain.
- Iliotibial band friction syndrome: Weak hip abductors are suspected as one cause of this syndrome.
If you are experiencing hip weakness, you should visit your doctor or physical therapist to help you find the correct exercises to strengthen the hips. Basic hip exercises may help, or advanced hip strengthening may be necessary to help you return to normal function.
The pelvic drop exercise—also known as hip hikes—is a great exercise to improve the strength of the hips. This exercise strengthens the gluteus medius muscle located in the side of your hips and buttocks. Strength in this muscle is essential to help maintain normal walking. Keeping this muscle strong can also help prevent hip, knee, or ankle pain.4
If you have had hip surgery, like a total hip replacement, this particular hip strengthening exercise may not be right for you. Performing the pelvic drop exercise may cause you to break your hip precautions. This may lead to problems with your hip replacement surgery.
How to Perform the Pelvic Drop
Start the pelvic drop exercise by standing on a step stool or on the bottom step of your stairs. If your balance is a problem, be sure to hold onto something stable, like a stair rail.
Stand sideways on the step and hang one leg off the step. Be sure to keep your abdominals tight and keep your pelvis level. Use a mirror to ensure you are in the proper position if necessary.
Position 2 of the Pelvic Drop Exercise
While standing on the step with one leg, keep your support leg straight and your abdominals engaged. Then allow your leg that is hanging off the step to slowly fall towards the ground. Do this by allowing your pelvis to slowly drop down.
It is essential to keep your support leg on the step as straight as possible. Many people want to bend the knee to lower down but lower down by letting the pelvis drop slowly. Your foot should not lower enough to touch the ground—be sure to control the movement with a slow, steady drop.
When your pelvis drops down as far as possible, hold this position for a second or two, and be sure to keep your abdominals tight. Then proceed to the final step of the exercise.
Finishing the Exercise
After you have lowered the pelvis, simply use your hip muscles in your support leg on the step to raise your pelvis up. Your support leg should remain straight and your stomach should be tight.
When your pelvis is level again, you have completed one repetition of the pelvic drop exercise.
Repeat the pelvic drop 10 to 15 times. When it becomes easy to perform, you can challenge yourself further by performing 2 to 3 sets of the exercise, or you can hold a small dumbbell in your hand to add resistance to the exercise.
Remember that this exercise is not for everyone, and a visit to your physical therapist or doctor is essential before starting any exercise program.
The pelvic drop exercise is a simple way to help improve the strength of the gluteal muscles in the hips. By keeping the hips strong, you may be able to prevent hip, back or knee problems and you can maintain appropriate functional mobility.
- Lee SW, Kim SY. Effects of hip exercises for chronic low-back pain patients with lumbar instability. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015;27(2):345–348. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.345
- Santos TR, Oliveira BA, Ocarino JM, Holt KG, Fonseca ST. Effectiveness of hip muscle strengthening in patellofemoral pain syndrome patients: a systematic review. Braz J Phys Ther. 2015;19(3):167–176. doi:10.1590/bjpt-rbf.2014.0089
- Lavine R. Iliotibial band friction syndrome. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2010;3(1-4):18–22. Published 2010 Jul 20. doi:10.1007/s12178-010-9061-8
- Cruz AC, Fonseca ST, Araújo VL, et al. Pelvic drop changes due to proximal muscle strengthening depend on foot-ankle varus alignment. Appl Bionics Biomech. 2019;2019:2018059. doi:10.1155/2019/2018059