The hip internal rotation exercises in this article will help you improve this widely overlooked range of motion. If you’re an athlete, improving hip internal rotation mobility will prevent catastrophic knee injuries and if you’re not, it’ll help keep your hips and knees generally healthy.
The Benefits of Training Hip Internal Rotation
Whether you’re out on the ice or field cutting and pivoting or squatting heavy in the gym, hip internal rotation (IR) can be crucial for performance and injury prevention.
During hip internal rotation, your femur, or thigh bone, rotates in or toward the midline.
When your leg is completely straight, this results in the toes also pointing in toward the midline of your body. When you’re seated with your hip and knee flexed, this results in the foot lifting off the ground and out to the side laterally.
You might not think about performing hip internal rotation exercises much, but it’s an important aspect of injury prevention, especially if you play sports that require running and cutting, like soccer, basketball, or you participate in activities where your knee is likely to get torqued such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
If your hip is lacking internal rotation range, and you quickly change directions while running, all the force of the movement will go through your knees. While your hips (and your feet and ankles) are designed to take on big rotational forces, your knees are NOT.
When these excess rotational forces go through the knee, you can end up with some nasty injuries, like torn ACLs, PCLs, and menisci.
I think we can agree it’s much better to avoid that whole mess and reduce your risk of injury by making sure your body has the range of motion it needs to execute what you love with proper mechanics.
The 3 moves I’ll teach you today are must do hip internal rotation exercises that will help you stay mobile, strong, and safe.
Hip Internal Rotation Exercises
Exercise #1: Standing Hip Rotation Dissociation
This first exercise is a dissociation technique that works to break down a commonly associated movement pattern at the hip – lateral opening of the pelvis with external rotation.
By disrupting this pattern and working in the opposite direction, we are able to create greater muscle activation and open up the possibility for new, currently unused movement options.
Because of this activation, it’s also an excellent drill for warming up both your internal and external rotators. It fires up your hip musculature and get you prepped for the moves to come.
- Stand on your left leg, letting your right leg hover off the ground before externally rotating your right femur so your toes point to the right
- Maintain the external rotation of the right leg as you begin to turn your head and torso toward the left, holding for one deep 360° breath
- Take the right leg into internal rotation (so the toes point inward) before turning your torso to look toward the right, holding for a deep breath
- Complete 3 reps then switch sides
Exercise #2: Supine Hip IR Level 1 ERE
Next up, we’ve got an ERE, or End Range Expansion drill. This style of exercise is excellent for improving not only mobility, but strength and control over an increasing range of motion.
It’s unique because you actually are working on external rotation strength at the end of your internal rotation range of motion. In doing so you’re able to strengthen the muscles that both enter and exit the range.
- Lay down with your hips flexed and feet planted on the ground
- Focus on keeping your left knee where it is in space (don’t let it knock in toward the midline) while you internally rotate the left femur – this will cause your left foot to move out laterally. Pause at the end of your range of motion, but keep those muscles active as you take a deep 360° breath.
- Drop your left foot down and place your right foot on the inside of your left ankle. Continue to keep your left knee stationary and use your right ankle to block your left side from moving as you fire up your external rotators and try to rotate your femur laterally. Continue to activate as you hold for a deep breath cycle.
- Perform internal rotation once more to complete the cycle. Complete up to 4 IR-ER-IR cycles on each side.
Exercise #3: Hip IR Hinge
This last drill is a tweak on a common exercise – the hip hinge or the single leg deadlift. We’ll take this fundamental movement pattern and integrate internal rotation, which will make your hip IR training more functional.
As you perform internal rotation, make sure you aren’t just turning your torso. Remember how activating your internal rotators felt in earlier exercises – those same muscles should be firing here!
- Stand on your right leg with your left leg out in the air behind you. Keep a slight bend in your right knee and your right foot flat on the ground
- Keeping your spine in neutral, perform a hip hinge, keeping the leg straight but bending forward at the waist and return to standing
- Now fire up internal rotation – as you hinge over your right leg, this will result in your torso aiming toward the right as you lower. Pause at your end range but stay active.
- Continue to stay active as you return to the starting position. Repeat 5-10 reps of the hinge with IR on each side.
This move develops neuromuscular control of the internal rotators during multiple contraction types – concentric as you lower and eccentric as you bring yourself back up.
This simple routine will majorly improve internal rotation of the hip. And these 3 hip internal rotation exercises will not only make you feel more mobile and agile, they should reduce your injury risk.
If you want to dive deeper into mastering how your hip functions, go check out my Hip Control Course. That course will take you through a progressive, detailed program for improving hip mobility, strength, stability and control, which should take your sport and gym performance to a whole new level.