If you're not convinced that you should work at building stronger hip muscles, consider this fact: nearly nine out of ten leg injuries while running are attributed to weak hip muscles. Developing strong and muscular hips will not only help support your back and knees, it will also add power whenever you need to kick your legs. Consistently doing exercises that stretch and strengthen your legs will likewise strengthen your hip muscles. Hip-strengthening exercises can also prevent the development of osteoporosis.
This easy-to-perform exercise that you can do daily will build stronger hip muscles: on an exercise mat, lay on your side, with your knees, toes and top hip facing forward and your bottom leg bent at a 90-degree angle at the knee, while your top leg is kept straight.
Now lift your top leg in the straightened position until your toes are in line with your shoulder. Keep your leg straight, holding for 3 seconds before you gradually lower your leg back down. Be sure that your knee is kept straight while lifting the leg and be careful not to hyper-extend or lock it. Repeat this lifting motion 10 times if you are just starting out, building up eventually to 20 or 30 sets.
Now turn over to the other side and do the same movement with the opposite leg, bending the bottom leg at a 90-degree angle at the knee while you raise the top leg. To get even more benefit from this hip-building exercise, try adding 3- or 5-lb. ankle weights to your feet or wear heavy shoes. If you do decide to use weights, however, you'll get more benefit by lifting the leg very slowly and deliberately.
Squats are another exercise that quickly build up hip muscle strength. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, and your back straight, put both arms out in front of you at shoulder height while you slowly bend at the knee into a squatting position until your hips are lower than your knee joints.
It's helpful while doing the squat to squeeze your glutes. Hold this squat position for 2 or 3 seconds before you come back up into a standing position. Again, do as many squats as you can the first time and build up from there.
Daily walking, walking on a treadmill, or jogging are also beneficial ways to build up hip strength by strengthening and adding flexibility to the legs.