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Hip exercises found effective at reducing, eliminating common knee pain in runners
Date:6/4/2010

A twice weekly hip strengthening regimen performed for six weeks proved surprisingly effective at reducing -- and in some cases eliminating -- knee pain referred to as patellofemoral pain (PFP) in female runners.

The study by Tracy Dierks, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, was based on the theory that stronger hips would correct running form errors that contribute to PFP, even though study participants were given no instruction in gait training. The study used a pain scale of 0 to 10, with 3 representing the onset of pain and 7 representing very strong pain -- the point at which the runners normally stop running because the pain is too great. The injured runners began the six-week trial registering pain of 7 when they ran on a treadmill and finished the study period registering pain levels of 2 or lower; i.e. no onset of pain.

"I wasn't expecting such huge reductions, to be honest," Dierks said. "We've had a couple of runners who have been at level 2, but the overwhelming majority have been a 2 or below."

PFP, one of the most common running injuries, is caused when the thigh bone rubs against the back of the knee cap. Runners with PFP typically do not feel pain when they begin running, but once the pain begins, it gets increasingly worse. Once they stop running, the pain goes away almost immediately. Dierks said studies indicate PFP essentially wears away cartilage and can have the same effect as osteoarthritis. His study participants showed many of the classic signs of PFP, the most prominent being their knees collapsing inward when running or doing a squat exercise move.

The pilot study thus far involved five runners and a control group that comprised another four runners. Hip strength measurements were taken before and after the runners in the control group maintained their normal running schedule for six weeks. Hip strength measurements were
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Contact: Tracy Dierks
tdierks@iupui.edu
317-274-3147
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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