Strong hips help knees

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Strengthening your hips may eliminate knee pain caused by running incorrectly according to a new study from researchers in physical therapy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis presented on June 4 at the 55th Annual American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tracy Dierks, PhD, assistant professor in the physical therapy department at the Indiana University School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, led the nine participant controlled study that incorporated a six-week hip strengthening program practiced two times per week for 30-45 minutes for women who suffered from patellofemoral pain (PFP) or knee pain due to running.

PFP is also referred to as ‘runner's knee' due to the prevalence of injury by those that run, jump, ski, cycle, and other fitness activities that place heavy stress on the knees, according to American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). The pain associated with PFP begins and ends during a physical activity.

Dierks explained, "Studies indicate PFP essentially wears away cartilage and can have the same effect as osteoarthritis and in this study the female runners all suffered from PFP including "knees collapsing inward when running or doing a squat exercise move."

"I wasn't expecting such huge reductions, to be honest," said Dierks.

However, placing injured female runners who had  "very strong pain - the point at which the runners normally stop running because the pain is too great," on the hip strengthening program (single-leg squats and resistance band exercises) in combination with treadmill running for six weeks provided relief.

The researchers measured the success using a pain scale (0 to 10) with 7 signifying "very strong pain" and 3 the presence of pain. Dierks noted, "we've had a couple of runners who have been at level 2, but the overwhelming majority have been a 2 or below."

Dierks and his team are working secure funds to expand the study.

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