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Knee Osteoarthritis

“The addition of resistance hip exercises resulted in greater improvements in patient-reported pain and function.”

Hislop AC, Collins NJ, Tucker K, Deasy M, Semciw AI. Does adding hip exercises to quadriceps exercises result in superior outcomes in pain, function and quality of life for people with knee osteoarthritis? A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2020 Mar 1;54(5):263-71.

Hearing that you have osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease can be scary. However, they are actually very common conditions. If a health professional told you that you have a condition like this but did not give you any advice on what you can do for it, they did you a disservice.

A systematic-review and meta-analysis by Hislop et al. (2020) looked at individuals with knee osteoarthritis and the effects of hip exercises in addition to quadricep exercises. They found that those with hip and quadricep exercises had greater improvements in pain and function (walking) compared to those with just quadricep exercises. It was also found that resistance exercise was more effective than any other type of exercise intervention.

A few conclusions can be drawn from this:

First, it shows us that osteoarthritis is not a sentence to being stuck on a couch for the rest of your life. By adding resistance exercises into your daily routine, you can improve quality of life and get back to doing what you love.

Second, it shows us that individual parts of the body do not work in isolation. By strengthening the hip, we can have a positive effect on the knee because it is all connected. We need to stop thinking of muscles as singular entities and start thinking of them as part of a kinetic chain.

So, if you happen to be someone with osteoarthritis of the knee, you can start a comprehensive strength program that focuses on more than just muscles of the knee region. You can strengthen your hips with some of the following:

Monster walks – to strengthen your hip abductors which will in turn help prevent your knee from caving in.

Prone glute extensions – to strengthen your gluteus maximus and improve your ability to extend at the hip.

Banded marching hip flexor – to strengthen the hip flexor muscles and also improve stability of the core musculature and work on your ability to perform an abdominal brace

Lateral lunges – to strengthen both the quadriceps and musculature around the hip. It is also great for improving hip ROM.

Side lying hip abductions – to help strengthen the hip abductors as well as work on core stability.

Hip circles – using a band to create tension in the hips while moving through a ROM.

These are just some of the biomechanical benefits, but here in the clinic we address these things from a neurofunctional standpoint as well.

Movement is never a bad thing and strength is never a weakness.

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