`Hip exercises can reduce, even eliminate knee pain`

Last Updated: Jun 05, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Washington: Scientists have claimed that hip exercises, at least twice a week, could effectively reduce and even eliminate knee pain called patellofemoral pain (PFP), common in female athletes.

A new study by Indiana University-Purdue University was based on the theory that stronger hips would correct running form errors that contribute to PFP, even though the subjects 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; ie, no onset of pain.

"I wasn`t expecting such huge reductions, to be honest. We`ve had a couple of runners who have been at level 2, but the overwhelming majority have been a 2 or below," lead scientist Tracy Dierks said.

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 don`t 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.