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Knee Pain? It could all be in the hips..



Knee Pain? It could all be in the hips..

Painful knees while running is a common complaint, but it could be the hips which are causing this problem, explains Matthew Hicks, physiotherapist at RunWest Injury Management specialists, Sydney West Sports Medicine and offers some exercise tips to strengthen glutes and improve hip control.

Are you one of many of runners who get pain at the front of your knee whilst running?

Patellofemoral pain (medical speak for pain behind the kneecap) is one of the most common reasons why runners seek out physiotherapy.  More often than not, it is due to an increase in running load (eg increasing distance, speed or number of runs per week) that the knee is not prepared for.  Strengthening around the knee is a critical element in overcoming knee pain however we also need to look further up the kinetic chain.

Hip control is another key element in managing and ultimately preventing anterior knee pain.  Research highlights that people with patellofemoral pain tend to have weaker hip muscles than those who don’t have knee pain.

What happens at the hip?

When runners lack control at the hip, it results in a dropping of the pelvis on the opposite side.  This causes the hip and knee to fall inward and there to be inadequate support for the knee and knee cap.   Unfortunately, this will not only make running harder, but it also puts more load on the kneecap.

What can you do to improve hip control?

They key to improving hip control is to get the gluteal muscles firing.  There are many great exercises out there to improve glute control. Try some of our favourite beginner exercises below:

Glute Bridge + Band

  1. Lie down on the ground with your knees bent.
  2. Tie a piece of elastic band around your knees. Stretch the band by pushing your knees apart and hold
  3. Push you buttocks into the air by driving the heels into the ground. Make sure your back does not arch
  4. Complete 3 sets of 20 reps

Standing Glute Wall Push

  1. Stand next to a wall, resting your forearm against the all
  2. Lift the inside leg and press the knee into the wall. Keep the hip off the wall
  3. Position body to that you would when you run – knee slightly bent, leaning body slightly forward
  4. Push the inside knee into the wall with maximal force for 30 seconds
  5. Complete 3-5 times each side

Monster Walk/Crab Walk + Band

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart
  2. Tie a piece of elastic band around your knees. Stretch the band by pushing the knees apart
  3. Walk sideways but maintain the stretch of the band at all times.
  4. Complete 5-7m of walking left and right, 3-5 times
  5. To add extra challenge, lift your legs higher and move your arms as if you are running

If your pain is not improving it is best to consult with Sydney West Sports Medicine or your local physiotherapist who can provide more advice.