My Knee Hurts…So Why am I Strengthening my Hips and Core?

Have you ever had nagging pain in the front of your knee with running, squatting, going down stairs, or sitting? If you answered yes to any of these, chances are you may have been experiencing what is known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). Although it is one of the most frequently diagnosed knee injuries, the underlying cause of PFPS is vague and controversial. Pain around the knee cap (aka patella), with the absence of other structural injury, is typically diagnosed as PFPS. Proposed causes of PFPS include poor knee alignment, muscle imbalances, tightness of muscles in your thigh, limited ankle mobility, or flat feet.

How can you get rid of your knee pain? With a variety of possible causes, one thing is for sure; poor knee alignment (as seen below) needs to be corrected. This type of knee alignment causes your patella to move the wrong way and may eventually lead to pain. The ability to prevent this knee position comes from the muscles of your hip. Furthermore, research shows that people diagnosed with PFPS have weak hip muscles.1  A study demonstrated that a six-week exercise program that improved hip strength and flexibility of muscles in your thigh had a 93 percent success rate in reducing pain.2

What does this have to do with my core? Well, we can all agree that the picture above is bad news for your knees. A recently published study showed that when women actively contracted their core during a single leg squat activity, their knee alignment significantly improved.3 So train your core and hips and keep your knees healthy.