If you have knee pain
… Get an assessment of your hip mobility and strength.
… Weak hip muscles affect the position of your thigh and knee while walking, running, jumping or climbing stairs and can be one cause of your pain.
… Working closely with your physical therapist to strengthen your hips, take stress off of your knees and return to your normal activity level quickly and safely.
Hips – Nexus of Power Generation for the Athlete
It’s curious that athletes of all ages can be guilty of under developing their hips even though the muscular structure of the hips is a major contributor to their power and stability during movement. This is why your sports physical therapist may actually be assessing the mobility and strength of your hips, if you have pain or problems with your knees.
The hips are the primary facilitator in knee stability. Because your knee is positioned directly between your hips and ankles, it must withstand force that comes from different directions all the time. Due to this positioning and these continuous multi-directional forces, the knee is also a very common site of injury for athletes. However, it doesn’t mean the direct cause of your pain is the knee joint.
Knee pain can be caused by many things including arthritis, repetitive strain or traumatic injury. A common sports complaint, knee pain not only limits your ability to practice your sport, it may limit your ability to walk, climb stairs and do other normal activities.
When It Comes to Knee Pain Think Gluteus Medius
The gluteus medius muscles are responsible for the ability to abduct your hip and thigh and pull your leg out to your side. When you sit, it also rotates your thigh outward. When you stand or walk, the gluteus medius keeps your pelvis level.
If your gluteus medius muscle becomes weak, your thigh can rotate and pull inward, which puts excessive stress and strain around your knee joint and kneecap (patella).
Common Knee Problems Connected To Weak Hips
- ACL injury (anterior cruciate ligament)
- Patellofemoral stress syndrome
- Iliotibial band friction syndrome
- Patellar tendonitis
- Pes anserine bursitis
Don’t Forget Your Gait
It’s a good idea to have your physical therapist access your gait along with your hip and lower extremity strength, flexibility and range of motion. A weakness in your gluteus medius would turn your thigh inward while walking and running.
Exercising for Stronger Hips
To become a more explosive and balanced athlete and lower your chance of lower extremity injury, strengthen those hips.
- One of best exercises for hip strengthening is the single-legged or “pistol” squats. The isolation of the limb and the depth of the squat not only directly engages the hip structure and also allows you to address issues with imbalances in strength on one side of the body.
- The pelvic drop exercise can help strengthen your gluteus medius.
- Balance and proprioception exercises can restore normal control and position of your thigh.
- Gait retraining helps you learn to walk more normally. If you have had a knee or hip replacement, gait retraining helps you relearn to use both legs evenly.
This video can help you lock in the form for pistol squats, including a progressive series of exercises for those struggling to complete the full range of motion.
Avoid Stressing Hips and Knees
If you are recovering from injury, exercise lightly on a regular basis, using these types of movements:
- Floor exercises, including abdominal curls, crunches, push-ups, or leg lifts
- Hand weight routines, including repeated lifting of small hand weights in different directions
- Exercise ball routines, including stretches, abdominal curls or leg lifts
- Swimming or exercise in the pool
- Gentle yoga
Work to improve your hip strength and overall balance and you’ll likely relieve the pain in your knees.
True Sports Physical Therapy – Where Maryland Athletes Rehab
At True Sports, we’re sports-focused because you’re sports-focused. The best physical therapists in Baltimore and Maryland provide the highest level of sports physical therapy and expertise you need to get back to your sport. With six convenient state-of-the-art locations to choose from, any athlete who takes their rehab seriously can get awesome care and extraordinary results. Select your location and schedule an appointment and have True Sports get you back to your team. For questions about insurance or self-pay rates, please call our office at 1-401-946-1672.