That Knee Ache May Start at Your Hip

19 September, 2012

In a recent study, 6 weeks of daily exercises that strengthened and stretched the hips helped ease painful knees. So if knee pain has you swearing like a sailor every time you climb stairs, squat, or kneel, it may be time to shore up those hip muscles.

Knees aren't just bony knobs that punctuate the middle of your leg. Each is a complex hinge that moves in only one direction: backward. As long as all the structures that make up the knee joint are stable, you don't even think about it. But let any part of the surrounding leg -- the thighbone or calf bone, the tendons and muscles that surround the knee, or the shock-absorbing cartilage in the joint -- shift out of place and your knees will let you know about it. A weak hip may be all it takes to trigger that shift. For example, weak abductor and adductor muscles -- your outer and inner hip muscles -- may allow your knee to rotate too far, which makes you yell ouch . . . or worse.

Of course, weak hip muscles are just one possible cause of knee pain. So if you're hurting when you walk, jump, squat, or sit for a while, see your doctor for an evaluation right away.

SOURCES: The role of hip muscle function in the treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome. Tyler, T. F., Nicholas, S. J., Mullaney, M. J., McHugh, M. P., The American Journal of Sports Medicine 2006 Apr;34(4):630-636. Epub 2005 Dec 19.

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