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Hip Exercises For Runners With Knee Pain

If you are a runner who is also battling knee pain, then you may have considered exercises to strengthen your quads. Research shows that you should also look to another area of the body – the hips – if you wish to reduce pain and improve running mechanics. In one study by scientists at Indiana University, female runners who performed hip-strengthening exercises enjoyed two major benefits: they reduced patellofemoral pain and they improved their running gait – as found by motion analysis studies.

Why Do Hip Exercises Help?

In the study, motion analysis expert Tracy Dierks and colleagues found that strengthening the hips essentially improved mechanics. Runners’ legs showed a greater range of motion, the pain guarding mechanism was reduced, and that coordination of maximum angles in the leg were enhanced. In the study, minute measurements were taken of how the runners’ hips, knees and shin bones moved, both during their regular running schedules and after a six-week hip strengthening program. Exercises included single-leg squats and resistance exercises, both of which can easily be performed in a home setting. Results showed that the runners reduced their level of pain from seven to two (on a 10 to one scale).

What Types Of Exercises Can Strengthen The Hips And Knees?

Resistance and squats are two exercises you can try out, but there are others that may be more suitable. For osteoarthritic knees, indoor exercise bikes will enable you work major muscle groups in the hips and legs without stressing the joints or experiencing pain. Supportive bikes for athletes with painful knees have specific features you should watch out for. These include a step-through frame (which is lighter on your back), adjustable resistance, and adaptability to the riding position you feel most comfortable with – whether this be riding while leaning forward or backwards. Cycling is a great choice for hip strengthening, since it targets various muscles in the legs, particularly the hip flexors, which are crucial for any movement that involves bringing your legs or knees up towards your body.

Resistance Band Training

There are many resistance band exercises you can use for home training, focusing on the hips and knees. One of the most simple and easy to perform is the Banded Hip March, in which you stand up right with a looped band around the balls of your feet. Standing with your feet slightly apart, the aim of this exercise is to lift one knee at a time (at a 90º angle). You should feel your flexors and glutes as you complete the required movements. Another exercise you might try is the Double Banded Pull Through, which involves the use of a long resistance band, tied behind you to a bench or stable, heavy piece of furniture. Stand in front of the bands, bending down to loosen them and straightening your body to tighten them. As you straighten up, you should feel your glutes and hamstrings at work.

If you are a runner battling chronic knee pain, ask your doctor about the suitability of knee strengthening exercise for your condition. Research has shown that this type of exercise can reduce pain and improve range of movement. There is a vital connection between the knees and hips, since there are a plethora of muscular attachments surrounding the hips that control movement in the joints and legs. If you are new to hip-strengthening exercises, the good news is that they can easily be performed at home, often with little to no equipment.