Runners often fatigue their knees, which leads to pain and injury. Though many assume the pain is symptomatic of knee injury, it is actually often representative of another culprit: weak hips. Under the guidance of a physical therapist, you can quickly and safely strengthen your hips and fix your knees, which will get your running again.
Why You’re Running with Pain
Iliotibial (IT) band tendinitis and patella tendonitis (better known as runner’s knee) are typical ailments that most often plagues runners (however, it can afflict others as well). IT band tendinitis is considered to be an overuse injury in which the IT band that runs along the outer side of the thigh becomes inflamed. The IT is a stabilizing component of the leg’s musculature. As the knee flexes and contracts, the IT band is integral in stabilizing the outside of the knee.
Signs of Knee Injury
Pain is the primary indicator that an injury has occurred; however, injury can sometimes start in places other than in the knee itself.
- Achilles pain
- Muscle pains
- Prickles or tingles when making impact
- Pain when running down hill
- Radiating pain in the thigh
- Pain behind the knee
- Knee popping
These ignorable pains and discomforts can rapidly become issues that are impossible to ignore as the pain becomes constant. When pain is allowed to progress, you are often so uncomfortable that you are unable to run.
Fixing Your Knees Through Your Hips
Though earlier thought attributed knee injury in runners to the knees themselves, orthopedic researches have gone on to discover that hip weakness is a much more likely culprit in causing knee injury in runner.
One study conducted used 25 runners. Of those, 15 were injured; 10 were not. The 15 injured runners received a hip strengthening intervention for their hip abductors for a period of three weeks. Strength was measured before and after the intervention. Findings in this particular study demonstrated that strength was increased and that pain and stride-to-stride knee joint variability was reduced.
Other studies have confirmed these results. In fact, any publication intended for running enthusiasts now support that hip strengthening exercises are the most effective and efficient way to avoid knee injury and into recover following a knee injury.
Given the newness of these studies, there is way one can fully claim that knee injuries are symptomatic of a weak core (note that the core includes more than just the abdominal muscles; it also encompasses hips and glutes as well); however, they are comfortable in making the connection and pointing out that if you are experiencing knee pain, a smart place to start trying to heal is in hip strength.
When to Call Your Physical Therapist
Because there is no way for you (the individual) to know with complete confidence whether or not weak hips is the cause of your knee injury or knee pain, you will expedite your recovery by going directly to see your physical therapist for a diagnosis.
Your physical therapist can determine the precise location of the knee pain (front or side) and prescribe a care regimen that will fix the problem. While there is a high likelihood that hip strengthening will be part of your care, there is a chance that other exercises will also benefit you. By going to physical therapy, you can heal correctly and learn valuable strengthening and stretching exercises that will keep you out of the doctor’s office and on the beaten (jogging) path.
With four locations from Crestview to Destin, Florida, the Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center is the place to go for sports injuries and for expedient therapeutic recovery. When you’re in pain and looking for safe, competent, and complete relief, look no further than the experts at the Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center, LLC. They’ll get you up and running in no time.