Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Scott Douglas
Study: Hip exercises trump knee exercises for ending pain.
Over the last few years, a growing amount of research has linked weak hips and runner’s knee. For example, one study published last year found that women who developed runner’s knee had greater hip instability in their gait. Another study published last year found that, after a hard run, people with runner’s knee had a much greater short-term decline in hip strength than did runners without knee pain.
In light of such findings, it’s become common to recommend hip and core strengthening instead of the formerly default knee- and quad-strengthening program to prevent runner’s knee. But what about if you currently have knee pain? Is hip strengthening still the way to go?
Yes, according to research that will be published in the Journal of Athletic Training.
Researchers at four facilities in Canada and the United States recruited 199 people who had been suffering patellofemoral pain for at least four weeks, and whose symptoms appeared to stem from overuse rather than acute trauma. The subjects were divided into two groups; each group did a six-week rehab program, of up to three exercise sessions per week.
One group’s program focused on strengthening knee and thigh muscles. They did exercises such as knee extensions and half squats. The other group’s program focused on building hip and core strength. They did exercises such as hip abductions and balancing on an unstable surface. During the six-week program, participants reported weekly on their level of knee pain.
After the six-week program, 157 of the participants, or 78.9 percent, reported that their knee pain had decreased and their level of functioning had increased. There wasn’t a significant difference between how many of the knee-strengthening group (77 percent) and hip-strengthening group (80.2 percent) were better after the six-week program.
There was a difference, however, in when the groups started getting better. On average, the hip-strengthening group reported improvement after three weeks, while the knee-strengthening group reported improvement after four weeks.
That might not sound like much of a difference, but any injured runner can appreciate the significance of feeling better a week sooner.
In addition, the hip-strengthening group saw greater gains in hip and core strength, which, according to the sort of research mentioned at the beginning of this article, should mean less susceptibility to future bouts of runner’s knee.