They give you curves. They shape your body. More than just a great view, your hips are way more important than you think. (Clue: it has something to do with your knees)
What is the Role of Hip Strength with Knees?
Do you experience knee pain sometimes when you’re walking or running? Try to take notice of your hips. Are they weak?
If you’ve got knee pain, you might need to strengthen your hips. One of the factors of knee pain is weak hips. Therefore if you have weak hips, you’re more likely to have knee pain (and vice versa).
Higher Risk of Knee Pain
In a 2003 study, hip strength was evaluated in 15 women with patellofemoral joint pain (runner’s knee) and compared with age-matched control subjects. The injured runners had weaker hip abductors and weaker hip external rotators on their injured leg compared to the control group.
The study was followed up in 2007. Researchers found that the injured women from the previous study were weaker on their injured side and weaker overall in measures of 5 of the 6 major hip muscle groups compared to healthy runners.
How Do Weak Hips Cause Knee Pain?
Weak or inactive glutes can cause all sorts of problems in the knee. The muscles of your hips and thighs are the primary movers of your legs. When the muscles of your hips aren’t working that much, your thigh muscles, usually the quadriceps, have to compensate for the inefficiency of your hip muscles.
While walking or running, when your foot lands on the ground, it will bear the weight of your body. You need strong glutes to stabilise your hips. If they are weak, your legs may fall inwards and you will wind up over time.
During the running gait, your hips act as stabilizers of your knees. So with poor muscle strength and overactive muscles, you will end up imbalanced and unstable.
The gluteus medius muscle plays a role in hip stability. During the stance phase of gait, it eccentrically controls hip adduction and medial rotation. This helps reduce stress on the knee joint.
The lateral rotators also play important role for hip stabilisation. They also eccentrically control medial rotation during the stance phase of gait.
What Causes Weak Hips?
A primary cause of weak hips is inactivity. Nowadays, many people choose to sit on their couch instead of using their hip muscles to walk or run. Remember that our body is designed to move. If you’re not using your hip muscles too much, your knees will take its toll.
Prolonged sitting places the hip sockets in a constantly flexed position. Over time, this can result in restricted mobility in the hip socket.
Preventing Knee Pain with Hip Strengthening Exercises
Most muscles of the hip influence the alignment and strength of the knee. Focusing on hip strengthening exercises can help prevent knee injuries. A paper published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that integrating exercises that strengthen the hips are more successful in reducing knee pain.
If you have weak hip muscles, your physiotherapist may prescribe specific exercises to help strengthen them. Since weak hips can affect your leg and knee, proprioception exercises may also be recommended to restore normal control and position of your thigh.