The Link Between Hip Weakness and Knee Pain: Understanding the Connection
Knee pain is a common complaint that affects individuals of all ages and activity levels. While there are numerous factors that can contribute to knee pain, one often overlooked aspect is the role of hip weakness.
The body operates as a kinetic chain, where the movement and function of one joint can impact neighboring joints. Hip weakness can lead to poor control over lower limb alignment during weight-bearing activities, causing increased stress and abnormal forces on the knee joint. It can cause compensatory movements and modified movement patterns that can potentially lead to pain, dysfunction, and compromised skeletal alignment. Runners, in particular, are more prone to symptoms associated with this dysfunction due to the load they put on their hips, and should consider doing targeted strength training for their hips and glutes to maintain the integrity of their knees.
Research has highlighted a strong connection between hip muscle weakness and knee pain. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that individuals with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), a common knee condition, had significantly weaker hip abductor and external rotator muscles compared to pain-free individuals. (1) Another study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine investigated hip muscle strength in individuals with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. The researchers discovered that those with weaker hip abductor and external rotator muscles were more likely to experience subsequent knee pain. (2)
Understanding the connection between hip weakness and knee pain is essential for effective management and prevention of knee-related issues. Strengthening the hip muscles through targeted exercises can help restore balance and stability to the lower extremity, reducing knee pain and improving overall function. If you are experiencing knee pain, scheduling a consultation with Dr. Tim is a great place to start to address the dysfunction, and get you on the path to being and moving pain-free.
- Ireland, M. L., et al. “Hip Strength in Females With and Without Patellofemoral Pain.” Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine 13.4 (2003): 197-203.).
- Hewett, T. E., et al. “Biomechanical Measures of Neuromuscular Control and Valgus Loading of the Knee Predict Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Risk in Female Athletes: A Prospective Study.” American Journal of Sports Medicine 33.4 (2005): 492-501.