Most people believe knee or ankle injuries arise from weakness
or instability in that particular joint. Upon closer
inspection, the source of the problem can also arise from
generalized weakness of hip musculature. Hip abductors and hip
extensors help to maintain proper hip and knee alignment, along
with a level pelvis. When muscles of the hip are weak, malalignment
occurs, thus placing excess strain on the knee joint and the
muscles which support that joint. Chronic ankle sprains can also
arise from hip weakness. Again, when the hip is weak, there is
excess strain placed on the ankle, contributing to overuse of the
muscles of the ankle. This overuse may eventually lead to ankle
weakness and risk of ankle sprain.
Hip strengthening exercises are an important aspect of any LE
strengthening program. Specifically, strong hip musculature helps
to decrease excess force placed upon the knee and ankle. With
increased strength, comes increased joint stability and thus
decreases the risk of injury to these joints. Unfortunately,
women commonly present with malalignment of hip and knees, thus
contributing to greater stress placed upon the knee (i.e. patellar
femoral syndrome). Hip abductor and hip extensor strengthening
exercises are an integral part of treating this condition. With
increased strength of lateral hip musculature, there is less stress
placed on both the knee and ankle.
Hip musculature can be strengthened in a variety of ways.
Standing hip extension (kicking your leg straight out behind you)
and standing hip abduction (kicking your leg out from the side) are
common positions to strengthen your hip. Make sure to avoid
overextending your lower back when extending your hip and avoid
leaning over to the side when abducting your hip. If you experience
chronic knee or ankle pain, try some of these exercises are on your
own or contact a physical therapist.