Hip Labral Tear Exercises for Rehabilitation and Muscle Strengthening

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Hip labral tear exercises are necessary when dealing with hip labral pain or other kinds of hip pain. Daily repetitive activities can cause joint problems. Cartilage and tendons can deteriorate over time, causing pain and discomfort when performing routine daily activities.

When you have pain in your hip and groin area, it could be a sign that you have a hip labral tear. Here is some information you need to know about hip labral tears and how to treat this injury.

What is a Hip Labral Tear?

A hip labral tear is a significant injury that can make performing simple tasks unbearable or even impossible to do. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that cushions your hip joint and helps hold the ball at the top of your thigh bone inside the hip socket. When you have a tear in the labrum, then you need to seek medical treatment.

What Causes a Hip Labral Tear?

Intense physical activities like running, playing basketball, lifting weights, or taking Crossfit classes put a lot of stress on your hip joints. Sports-related repetitive motions are a common cause of hip labral tears. Trauma from accidents or full-contact sports can cause a hip labral tear. Structural abnormalities in the hips can also cause problems that lead to a hip labral tear.

What Does a Hip Labral Tear Feel Like?

hip labral tear

A hip labral tear does not feel good, as you might expect. People describe this injury as having the feeling of a pulled groin muscle. Symptoms of a hip labral tear include:

  • Deep groin or hip pain, especially when sitting or walking
  • Pain in the glutes, especially on the side of the tear
  • Sound of clicking or feeling of locking when you are walking or running
  • Weakness in the muscles around the hip

Will You Need Surgery for a Hip Labral Tear?

The good news is that most hip labral tears do not require surgery. The typical first course of treatment is rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy with the use of hip labral tear exercises. This treatment is individualized based on the severity of the injury.

If these treatments do not work, then surgery is the next step. Surgery can involve shaving the labral tear down to the healthy tissue, or the surgeon can repair the labral tear.

Post-operative rehabilitation and physical therapy are the keys to the surgery being successful. Post-operative treatment starts with performing normal daily activities then gradually increasing the intensity of these activities with higher impact exercises. Recovery from hip labral tear surgery can take six months to a year.

Hip Labral Tear Physical Therapy

Physical therapy for a hip labral tear focuses on addressing and correcting the biomechanical movements that caused the injury in the first place. When you first meet with a physical therapist, they will develop a plan of action to help you achieve your goal of getting back to your normal activities. The treatment strategies they may use can include:

  • Pain management
  • Massage therapy
  • Movement reeducation
  • Muscle strengthening through hip labral tear exercises
  • Functional controlled movement training
  • Education, exercise selection, and footwear

Hip Labral Tear Exercises

Here are several hip labral tear exercises that you can perform at home to strengthen your hips, legs, and torso and relieve your pain and discomfort. Your physical therapist may introduce some of these exercises to you during your therapy appointment. Perform these exercises slowly in the beginning. Consult your physical therapist or personal trainer to make sure you are performing these exercises correctly.

1. Forward and a Lateral Monster Walk

This exercise helps to increase the range of motion in your hips and improves hip endurance. Grab a resistance band and place it slightly above your ankles. Set your hips back and get into a mini squat position. Walk 15 to 20 steps forward while you are in this position, then rest. Return to the squat position and walk laterally (side-step) to the right for 15 to 20 steps, then take a rest. Return to the squat position and walk laterally to the left for 15 to 20 steps, then rest. Do two to four sets multiple times a week.

2. Single-Leg Deadlift

This exercise improves your coordination while strengthening your hips. Start in a standing position with your feet a shoulder-width apart. Stand on your left leg and lift your right leg slightly behind you. Slowly tilt forward as your right leg lifts higher behind you and your chest approaches the floor until your right leg and chest are parallel with the floor. Pause for a few seconds in this position, then return to the starting position.

Repeat this process on the other side, and do up to ten reps. You can use a kettlebell for a more intense exercise. Just hold the kettlebell in one hand on the side where you lift your leg.

3. Dead Bug Exercise

This exercise is effective in strengthening your core without putting pressure on your hips. First, lay on your back, then put your knees in the air while bending your legs at a 90-degree angle. Next, raise your arms straight into the air. Then slowly straighten and lower your left leg while simultaneously lowering your extended right arm back overhead.

Return to the original position and repeat the process with your right leg and left arm. Do three to four sets of ten repetitions several times a week.

4. Side Planks

This exercise is a great way to target your abs and glutes. Strengthening these areas is necessary to stabilize your hips. You perform a side plank by laying down on your right side with the elbow of your right arm placed under your shoulder with your torso slightly elevated. Extend your legs and stack them one on top of the other with your right hip, leg, and foot on the mat.

Next, lift your hips and knees off the mat so that you form a straight line from your torso down to your feet. Hold this position for as long as you are able with the goal of reaching 60 seconds. Return to the starting position, turn over, and repeat the exercise on your left side. You can also perform this exercise with bent knees if you find using straight legs too challenging.

6. The Clamshell Exercise

The gluteus medius is another muscle that needs strengthening as you recover from a hip labral tear. This muscle is underneath the gluteus maximus and extends out to cover the side of the hip bone. The gluteus medius is an important muscle because it supports the pelvis and hip joint.

The clamshell exercise is a simple exercise that requires little physical effort. First, lie on your right side with the left leg on top of the right leg. Bend both legs at a 45-degree angle. Rest your head in your right hand and use your left arm to steady your frame steady by preventing your left hip from rocking backward. Once you are in position, raise your left knee as high as possible while keeping your feet touching. Do not move your right leg, then return your left knee to the starting position. Do one set of 20 repetitions on each side.

7. The Fire Hydrant Exercise

This exercise targets and strengthens multiple muscles, including the glutes, abdominals, and hip external rotators. You start by getting on your hands and knees, then raise your right leg to the side without moving your pelvis. Keep your leg at a 90-degree angle and hold this position for a few seconds before dropping your leg to the starting position. Do up to three sets of ten repetitions with both legs.

Always do these exercises slowly until you build up strength and endurance in your hips, glutes, and abdominals. If you feel any pain while doing these exercises, then stop to avoid further injury. You may also want to practice these exercises in front of your physical therapist to make sure you are doing these exercises the right way.

5. The Bridge Exercise

The gluteus maximus is a large muscle in the back of your hips. This muscle helps to stabilize your hips and keep you balanced. One of the best hip labral tear exercises you can perform during your recovery and rehabilitation to strengthen your glutes is the bridge exercise.


To perform the bridge exercise, you lay flat on your back and bend your knees so that both feet are flat on the ground. Your feet should be hip-width apart, and your arms should rest by your side. Next, raise your pelvis off the ground so that your body forms a straight line. The back of your head, your shoulders, arms, and feet should remain on the floor.

Hold this position for up to ten seconds before lowering your pelvis back to the floor. Repeat this exercise several times as long as you can stay comfortable.

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