Why You May Have Hip Pain While Sitting

A sizable number of Americans spend the majority of their day seated, research continues to show. A 2019 study published in JAMA Network saw that from 2001 to 2016, an average of 66% of children, adolescents, and adults from ages 20 to over 65, spent at least two hours a day sitting watching TV. Additional research from the same publication revealed that from 2015 to 2016, over one-quarter of adults spent more than eight hours each day planted in a chair, and nearly 45% were considered to be inactive.

The more time we spend sitting, the greater our long-term risk for health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and more (via JAMA Network). In the short term, those leading a sedentary lifestyle may experience various aches and pains, such as in the hips. "When you sit with your knees bent, your hamstrings are in a relaxed, shortened position, and your hip flexors are at the maximum shortened length," explains physical therapist Kirsten Zambon via Franciscan Health. "Hip pain from sitting can be from poor posture, but if you're sitting 40 to 50 hours [a] week over 5, 6 months or longer, you probably have decreased strength in your hips. When you do get up from your desk, your glutes, core and hip extensors will be weaker, and you don't feel as strong."

How to reduce hip pain from sitting

Hip pain while sitting may also potentially be related to a health condition, such as piriformis syndrome, labrum damage, or hip tendinitis, according to Panther Physical Therapy. Characterized by muscle inflammation, piriformis syndrome can prompt nerve irritation or throw the hips out of alignment, causing pain and discomfort in the area. Whether from a physical blow or natural wear, labrum damage involves injury to the rim of the cartilage around the hip socket. Such damage can cause your hip to catch when sitting down, leading to pain that can be exacerbated during long stretches of sitting. Frequently seen in those who are physically active, hip tendinitis involves inflammation of the hip tendons, which can make it painful to sit down for hours on end.

Experts at Armor Physical Therapy suggest implementing hip exercises throughout a sedentary day to help relieve the pain. Stretches such as the butterfly stretch, hip flexor stretch, or the yoga position known as pigeon pose can help loosen up stiff hip muscles. Additionally, taking a 15-minute walking break during the day can increase one's range of motion. To target the hip joints, swimming or lunge exercises can boost blood flow and strengthen the surrounding muscles, all of which can help relieve hip pain while sitting.