Why Would You Strengthen Your Hips When It’s Your Knees That Hurt?
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Why Would You Strengthen Your Hips When It’s Your Knees That Hurt?

Why Would You Strengthen Your Hips When It’s Your Knees That Hurt?

Elevation Physiotherapy & Wellness :: Why Strengthen Your Hips When It's Your Knees that Hurt?

Pain at the front of your knee is often called patellofemoral syndrome, and can be a nagging ache or a sharp pain that you might feel after exercising or even sitting too long.  Over time, your knee might start to hurt during exercise or throughout your day, and may cause you to limit your activities. 

Recent research showed that in people with patellofemoral syndrome, strengthening the thigh muscles can be helpful, but it is even more helpful to strengthen hip muscles.  One study followed 33 women who did consistent knee or hip strengthening exercises over four weeks:  the group that strengthened their hip muscles reported 43% less pain than the group who did knee/ thigh strengthening exercises—they reported only 3% decrease in their knee pain. 

Pain relief and function were similar for both groups by 8 weeks.


The power for you to move your body around is supposed to come from your hip muscles, specifically the “outer” butt muscles.  Often people are fairly weak through these muscles and your brain makes your thigh muscles take over and do more of the work than they should.  It is thought that getting or keeping the hip muscles strong helps to improve the mechanics of the whole leg and therefore reduces stress on the knee itself.

Strengthening your hip muscles can help decrease knee pain faster, but it is also thought that keeping those muscles strong can actually prevent knee pain from beginning. Examples of targeted hip strength exercises are clamshells, lateral walking with a resistance loop around your legs, and even squats—these exercises need to be done properly and should not be painful. It is always best to see your Physiotherapist who can determine specifically what is causing knee pain, and can then design a program individualized to help you.