Knee pain is a common complaint seen by physical therapists from patients of all ages. There are many different types of injuries that can occur at the knee from tearing a ligament, to osteoarthritis, to general pain. There are a lot of structures in and around the knee joint and more importantly, the knee is the joint between your ankle and hip that allows you to walk fluidly. In many cases, knee pain and knee injuries can occur due to weakness at the hip muscles. If the hip muscles are not strong enough, the result is poor mechanics at the hip and knee joint while you are standing and walking. If the hip muscles are not supporting your pelvis and leg in the correct position, then the result can be pain while moving, especially when walking. Below are 3 exercises that may help to strengthen weak hip muscles. If you do not see any changes in your hip pain after trying these exercises, you will likely benefit from a one-on-one examination by a physical therapist.
When performing the “Hip Abduction” exercise, you will start on your side with your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. You can bend your bottom knee to help you balance. Simply, lift your top leg toward the ceiling while keeping your knee straight. It is very important, to keep your toes pointing forward, do NOT turn your toes upward or downward. It is also important to keep your leg in line with your body, do NOT bring your leg forward while lifting it up. You should have NO pain with this exercise.
When performing the “Clamshell” exercise, you will start by lying on your side with your feet and knees together and your knees bent to 90 degrees. You want to make sure that your feet are in line with your hips. You then lift your top knee toward the ceiling, while keeping your feet together. It is very important to stay on your side when you perform this exercise. You do NOT want to roll onto your back as you lift your leg. You should have NO pain when performing this exercise.
When performing the “Hip Extension” exercise, you will start by lying on your stomach. Lift your entire leg off the bed while keeping your knee straight. It is important to not arch your back when lifting your leg, the only thing that should move is your leg. Focus on squeezing your gluteus muscle to lift your leg up. You should have NO pain when performing this exercise.