Upon returning to exercise, it is common to feel pain in the front of the knee just below the knee cap (patella). This is a very common complaint among my friends and in my practice. In physical therapy and orthopedics, this type of pain is generally referred to as patellofemoral pain. It is related to the way the patella tracks in the femoral groove. There are many reasons for this to occur:
- Weakness of the hip abductors
- Tightness of the illiotibial band (IT Band)
- Poor foot control
- Tightness of the lower extremity musculature (hamstring, quadriceps, and gastroc-soleus complex)
- Poor form in exercise
Because there are many causes for this anterior knee pain, it is important to get a proper and correct diagnosis from a physical therapist. If you have pain in the front of your knee, your physical therapist can design a program to help you beat the pain and return to your exercise program.
This month’s Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach has an article that talks about how exercise (done properly) is the best intervention for patellofemoral pain. (Read the Abstract here)
In my practice, I find that a majority of patients require training of the gluteus medius, which is the major hip abductor muscle. This muscle can become weak due to positioning of the leg during exercise. If you look at your feet when they move, are they turned outward? If so, this is the body’s way of compensating for a weak gluteus medius, and forces the tensor fascia latae (TFL) and ITB to do a lot of the work, thus changing the position and angle of the knee bending during gait and squatting/lunging movements.
Here are a few exercises that can be performed to target and strengthen the gluteus medius:
Sidelying Hip Abduction:
Bridging with Band:
Single Leg Balance:
It is important to remember that, although these exercises may help your knee symptoms, a physical therapist can help treat the cause and individualize a program for you. Please contact Advantage Physical Therapy to set up an appointment!!!