Knee Pain: Understanding the Foot and Hip’s role in Knee Pain – Part 1

When compared to other areas of the body, the knee joint is a fairly simple joint.  It’s for the most part a hinge joint, like the hinges on your door.  Understanding all of the movements that occur at the knee is not too difficult.

Unfortunately the knee is the most commonly injured joint in the legs, being the most common site of overuse injuries in runners.  The large degree of ACL injuries in females is also a hot topic and several theories exist as to why this is.  People often look at problems within the knee joint as possible causes of pain and injury, patellar tracking issues being a common culprit.

Some research coming from biomechanics expert Chris Powers sheds some light on the situation.  He cites research that weak hip musculature is associated with knee injury.  He also cites additional research where decreased trunk control and proprioception are factors for knee injury.

We also know that highschool athletes with knee pain (patello-femoral pain syndrome) have on average a flatter foot then their pain free peersAlso, foot orthotics are an effective treatment in patients with knee pain (patello-femoral pain syndrome)

So what’s the deal?  How does the foot and hip effect the knee?  Check out the video below for a short demonstration of why this might be happening.

Our posture and the way we move has a lot to do with the amount of force that is placed on our knees.  Two things that we can do to decrease the loading on the knees and hopefully decrease our incidence of knee problems:

  1. Hip dominant movement:  Push the hips back during squats, deadlifts and lunges.  Athletes would do well to practice acceleration and change of direction drills with a hips back posture.
  2. Strengthen the hips and fix the feet.

In this way we can normalize our biomechanics and decrease the likelihood of getting injured.

Stayed tuned for the next part of this article where I demonstrate exactly how to fix your feet and go over some specific drills to try and decrease our likelihood of knee pain and injury.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Yours in good health,

Dan Pope

P.S. Remember this information is not to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of  knee problems.  Consult a professional if you are concerned you may have some type of knee injury.

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Resources:

Powers C M. The Influence of Abnormal Hip Mechanics on Knee Injury: A Biomechanical Perspective. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy February 2010 vol 40:N 2:42-51

Behnke R. Kinetic Anatomy 2nd Edition Human Kinetics 2006

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