During the past month, we’ve been focusing on all things knee-pain and have looked at a number of common knee injuries and how to avoid them. Today’s blog post will continue this theme by focusing on a topic that is near and dear to the hearts of orthopedic physical therapists everywhere: The importance of hip strength and how body mechanics can affect joint forces.
Wait, my KNEE pain can actually be caused by my HIPS?!
Yes! It’s been frequently reported that people who present with knee pain, especially patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), will often demonstrate altered mechanics throughout the lower body, which is often correlated with the reduced strength of the hip musculature. The idea behind this phenomenon centers around the key functionality of the hip musculature. Due to the muscles of the hip not being strong enough to stabilize the body during performance of more dynamic movements, there is a large and unnecessary increase in motion at the hip and trunk, which is often the cause of pain that occurs further down the leg.
So, should I just focus on strengthening the muscles around my knees?
Yes… but also no. Recent studies have confirmed that knee strengthening alone is NOT the gold standard when performing rehabilitation exercises for knee conditions. At a minimum, exercises should emphasize strengthening of musculature surrounding the knee, hips, and core, in addition to functional movement retraining and addressing key mobility and strength deficits throughout the body. Strengthening and stretching exercises are key to any rehabilitation routine; however, are often not sufficient to restore the functional mobility needs of many patients.
Identification and alteration of faulty movement patterns is the key to a strong physical therapy routine and should be the focus of any effective physical therapy programming. Functional movement retraining, whether it be in regards to athletic movements such as running, sprinting, or jumping, or everyday tasks, such as walking, lifting, and squatting, is an integral part of the rehabilitation process, in order to optimize biomechanics and ultimately reduce faulty joint loads.
What exercises should I be doing in order to get my hip stronger to support my knee?
There are a large number of exercises that you can do in order to strengthen your lower extremity, with multitudes of exercises available that will target muscles of the knee, hip, or core in an isolated manner; however, compound movements (that is, movements targeting more than one joint or body part) are generally king when it comes to functional training. Squat, lunge, and deadlift variations, when performed in a SAFE and PAIN-FREE manner, are certainly the best way to target muscles along the entirety of the lower kinetic chain. If there is pain present during any of these movements, there is most likely a source of movement dysfunction, and they should not be performed until corrected by a movement specialist.
If you experience pain with these movements, a number of more fundamental exercises, such as bridges, straight leg raises, and clamshells, may be more appropriate at this point in order to avoid any symptom irritation. A large list of lower body exercises are available through our website; however, for optimal programming and guidance, you should seek the services of a physical therapist skilled in the evaluation and treatment of the knee.
What can be done if I need additional help in regards to my knee pain, or if I’m seeking additional ways to strengthen my lower body?
- For those of you seeking additional ways to further your knowledge concerning how the knee and hip relate, click the following link to find more in-depth information regarding our knee injury programs and how you can utilize these methods in your everyday training: http://www.robbinsptwest.com
- If you are injured and are ready to get started right away on the rehabilitation process, then do not hesitate to give a call at 610-841-3555.
- That’s all for now! Feel free to post any questions in the comments section below and if you sign up for a course you will be able to get to stay on top of all things Robbins Rehab!