Hip Strengthening for Knee Pain in Runners
This is the headline for the latest patellofemoral (knee) pain research study published in the Journal of Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT). In this recent randomized clinical trial, the authors concluded that initial hip strengthening may allow an earlier dissipation of pain than exercises focused on the quadriceps (thigh muscle). In recent years, physical therapy research has demonstrated that control of the femur (thighbone) from the hips has a greater effect on knee pain than the quadriceps at the actual knee joint.
Knee pain in Runners
Knee pain in runners is often a result of weakness in the gluteus medius and maximus muscles Landing on one leg requires eccentric control of these muscles, against approximately 2.5 times one's body weight...for each step! If the hip musculature is weak, it is unable to decelerate the femur from internally rotating and adducting (coming in towards midline). Thus, the femur becomes misaligned under the patella (kneecap) and rubs the contact surfaces of the bones. The wearing causes inflammation and pain.
Patella Femoral Syndrome in Runners Correct Incorrect
The patella is the kneecap. The femur is the thighbone, and the rubbing of the two undersides of the bones is what is referred to as patellofemoral syndrome, or Runner's Knee. Pain is commonly felt under the kneecap and as an ache about the front of the knee.
Hip Strengthening for Runners
As mentioned in the above study, results showed that performing hip strengthening exercises prior to quadriceps (or knee specific) strengthening exercises was more effective for solving knee pain quicker. So strengthen your hips, to align your legs properly, then move on to the knees!
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