Why Strong Hips Could Protect Your Knees
Knee injuries are very common amongst athletes, being caused by contact injuries and slips and falls.
Cruciate ligament injuries are a type of knee injury in which the supportive ligaments connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone are stretched or torn.
As well as being caused by athletic activities, cruciate ligaments also experience general wear that predisposes one to osteoarthritis of the knee.
Research published at the end of last year suggests that improving hip muscle strength may lessen cruciate ligament injuries, excluding those caused by contact trauma.
The ability to strongly externally rotate the hip and lift the leg out to the side (abduction) is found much less commonly amongst people with non-contact cruciate ligament injuries.
Exercises to improve strength in these movements may therefore be supposed to reduce the risk of damage to cruciate ligaments, leading to a reduced risk of degenerative changes to the knee.
Squats are excellent exercises to strengthen your hips and knees, and doing them with a band around your knees (or better still your feet) is a great way to increase the activity of external rotators of the hip, as per this video:
External rotation and abduction is principally performed by the gluteus minimus and piriformis muscles. Strengthening these muscles also protects the knee from bending inwards.
If these squats are too difficult, you can start things off by lying on your side and lifting your uppermost leg up to the ceiling repeatedly. Do 20-30 of these and you should start to feel your hip abductors working.
Bending inwards, or valgus movement, is one of the most significant factors with cartilage damage of the knee.
More and more, modern medicine is acknowledging that symptoms in one part of the body can be caused problems in another.
This holistic approach is one that is championed by chiropractors, and underlines the importance of seeking appropriate specialist advice when starting a new exercise regime or if niggles start to show.