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Strengthening, Not Stretching, Hips Best for Knee Pain Prevention

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A recent research report suggests that for relief of iliotobial (IT) band pain, strengthening the hips trumps stretching the IT band. Does this recommendation have a leg to stand on?

Presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 60th Annual Meeting and 4th World Congress in Exercise is Medicine™, the small study included nine runners experiencing IT band pain. They were provided an IT band stretch, hip-strengthening work and an IT band foam roller protocol. By the end of the study, the runners were experiencing less pain, but the improvement didn’t seem to come from stretching the IT band. “No changes in kinematic gait measures or IT band flexibility were measured compared to baseline, suggesting these factors may not play a role in the underpinning aetiology of IT band pain,” researchers reported.

An abstract of the presentation was published in the Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (2012; 44 [5], supplement S131).

Do you have clients with weak hip musculature? Try these exercises courtesy of Nicholas Linn, president and chief executive officer of Neuro­muscular Fitness Training in La Jolla, California:

Single-leg-stand hip abduction hold. Place right leg on a yoga block or step. Standing erect and countering other body movement, abduct left leg away from midline. Hold for 3 seconds and slowly return to start. Perform 5 repetitions.

Single-leg-stand knee and hip extension with abduction. Tie one end of light-resistance tubing to doorknob, and loop other end around right ankle. Stand to right of attachment on yoga block with left leg, making sure there is enough tension against right leg. Tube should pull leg into hip and knee flexion and into slight adduction. Maintaining sagittal plane, allow hip and knee to flex without allowing knee to move toward midline. Hold for 2 seconds, return to start and hold leg in extension for 3 seconds. Perform 5 repetitions.

Supine hip/knee 90-degree external rotation. Tie one end of light-resistance tubing to doorknob, and loop other end around right ankle. Lie supine with right leg closest to door. Keep left leg extended while flexing right knee to 90 degrees and keeping right hip flexed until posterior superior iliac spine makes contact with floor. Bring right foot across midline of body toward left hip. Hold for 3 seconds and return to start. Perform 8 repetitions.


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Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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