Why are we treating the hip if it’s my knee that is hurting?

This is a very common question we get from many of the patients we see here at Positive Energy. If you keep reading, you will find out exactly how the hip plays a role in knee mechanics.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the skeleton song. You know, the one that says the hip bone is connected to the leg bone. Well, it isn’t that far off. Movement at one joint will affect how the other joints above and below move as well. This is particularly true for the hip and knee.

The Gluteal muscles, located on the back of the hip, are major players that can affect the knee. In particular, the gluteus medius which attaches on the outside of the femur, functions to prevent the knee from collapsing inward.

glute med picture

It is also a muscle that is commonly weak.

Why is it weak? Great question. Many of us live in a world where we sit in our car to commute to work/school, sit at work/school at our desks, sit again in the car, and then go home to sit and eat dinner. We are constantly sitting on the very muscle we need to be working to help us function when we are up & moving around.

This can lead to some very faulty movement patterns; especially when we become the weekend warrior and attempt to run 3+ miles, play beach volleyball, and surf all within a 48 hour period to try and combat all the sitting we did during the day.

Here are 2 faulty movement patterns that Glutes Medius weakness can cause:

  1. Picture below: Compensatory pelvic drop. This positioning can cause excess stress on the tissues on the outside of the thigh and can lead to increased strain on the knee.

contralateral pelvic drop

2. Picture below: Compensatory knee valgus.  Remember when I said the gluteus medius prevents the knee from collapsing inward? This female is doing just that. We call this knee valgus, or a simpler term, knee collapse. This may lead to pain at the knee due to sheering and compressive forces.

knee valgus

Your knee pain might not be related to your knee at all. Are you experiencing symptoms but not sure what the cause is? Give us a call and one of our experienced physical therapists will help you out!

 

By: Lindsey Jelinek, PT, DPT, CSCS

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