Weak hips cause runner’s knee
I’m looking forward to going through the research presented last weekend at this year’s ACSM meeting. For starters, a study presented by researchers from the Indiana University found that hip strengthening exercises reduce or eliminate “patellofemoral pain” (“runner’s knee”) in female runners. This is an idea that has been gaining momentum over the past few years — I first heard about it back in 2007 from Reed Ferber of the University of Calgary’s Running Injury Clinic (and wrote about it here).
The Indiana study is pretty small — just nine runners, with the five who did the hip strengthening exercises lowering their pain score from 7 to 2 or lower (on a scale of 0 to 10) after six weeks of twice-a-week strengthening. The researchers are hoping to try the same program on a larger group of runners. Normally I wouldn’t get too excited about such a small study, but given that the idea is also being developed elsewhere (such as this study about hips strength and knee arthritis that I blogged about last year), it’s starting to look pretty interesting. I suffered through an extremely persistent case of runner’s knee a decade ago that kept me out of competition for almost two years, so I certainly wish I’d known about the possibility that hip exercises might help.
If you want to give them a try, here are Reed Ferber’s suggested hip exercises [pdf, 2 MB].