When it comes to having happy and healthy knees, having strength and mobility in the hips is essential. The knees and the hips work together for movements such as squats, lunges, step-ups, etc. If there is weakness or tightness in the hips, then there is going to be more strain on the knees to get the job done.
There have been repeated studies in the physical therapy literature over the past 5 years where they have looked at the value of hip strengthening to decrease knee pain. The results consistently show that you can drastically decrease knee pain by focusing on hip strength and mobility and not even directly treating the knee!
Here are some of the exercises I use most in the clinic to increase hip mobility and strength. The good news is these exercises also come up very frequently in almost all of the FitFOREVER workouts!
Start by lying on your back with knees bent. Brace your core and squeeze the glutes to lift the hips. Avoid arching the lower back. Lower slowly with control. Repeat 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
Start by resting on your side with knees bent and hips stacked. Rotate through the top hip to lift and open the top leg all while keeping the heels touching. Avoid rocking the pelvis backward as you lift. Lower slowly with control. Repeat 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions on each leg.
Start by lying on your side with the bottom knee bent, top leg straight, and hips stacked. Lift the top leg until the foot reaches the height of the hip. Avoid lifting the leg too high, allowing the pelvis to rock backward, or the foot to drift forward as you lift. Lower slowly with control. Repeat 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions on each leg.
Start resting on your back with knees bent. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Press the knee outward to stretch the hip. For a stronger stretch, maintain the crossed position and bring the legs into your chest. Hold 30-60 seconds for 2 repetitions each leg.
Start resting on your back with both knees bent. Loop a strap or belt around one foot. Straighten the leg and lift up to stretch the back of the thigh and knee. Stop once the knee wants to bend. For a stronger stretch, straighten out the non-stretching leg so it is flat on the floor. Hold 30-60 seconds for 2 repetitions each leg.
Start kneeling on one knee. Brace the core and shift your weight forward to stretch the front of the thigh and hip on the leg you are kneeling on. Avoid arching the lower back. Hold 30-60 seconds for 2 repetitions each leg.
*Remember to listen to your own body. Modify when needed to avoid pain and maintain good form*
Repeating and reinforcing basics for strength, stability and flexibility isn’t fancy, but it keeps our joints (and in this case the knees) feeling good and allows our bodies to do the fun stuff such as lunges, squats, sports, dancing, and just going about our day while feeling our best! You’ll find many more exercises like these in FITFOREVER. Give it a try free for 30 days and see what you think.
~ Blaire Brown, PT, DPT, OCS, SST,
FITFOREVER Expert Trainer