Yes that is what I said! That pain in your knee could be caused by your hip. I emphasise could as of course there are a lot of injuries and conditions that ARE located in the knee but that is not my topic of conversation here. Let us look at the evidence with a short anatomy and movement lesson…..When you are walking or running, you transfer weight from side to side as you step forward with alternating feet. Part of this weight transfer is possible because your feet have the capability to roll inward toward each other, this is called pronate. When the foot pronates, the ankle rolls in with it, which in turn helps rotate the lower leg, knee and thigh toward the midline of the body. Simply put, the mobility of the foot and ankle enables the shin bones, the tibia and fibula, to rotate inward. The thigh bone, the femur, which fits into the pelvis to form the hip socket, should also rotate inward in time with the lower leg when the foot pronates
So how is my hip hurting my knee?
Hip immobility! As you now know from the previous paragraph, pronation of the foot enables the ankle, lower and upper leg to roll inwards. If the hip lacks the mobility to turn inward then a tug of war begins between your foot, which wants to turn the ankle and lower leg inward, and the upper leg, which is connected to the hip socket and unable to come along for the ride.So put it all together and the joint that bears the brunt of these opposing forces is the knee, since it connects the upper and lower leg and cannot move in two directions at once. This stress to the knee can lead to pain and dysfunction. Simples!
So why is my hip not playing ball?
One of the main causes of hip immobility is extended periods of sitting. Whether at work on a computer, driving or sat at home being a couch potato, prolonged sitting places the hip socket in a constant flexed position. Over time this can lead to restriction of movement in the hip socket. Overdoing in the gym or other forms of exercise like bike riding or running that only require one or two ranges of motion can also lead to myofascial restrictions and subsequent hip immobility. Hello knee pain, as I found in a client this week who came in with knee pain and left having their hips treated.
How do we fix this?
In the case I have set out we need only get your hips moving again. Your muscles involved in pelvic and hip movement will be tight and you will be surprised to find they are probably tender when I start to assess them. By working them through myofascial release with some stretching and I expect some trigger point therapy, over time they will be moving through their full range and the stress on your knee will be reduced and eventually removed. Of course this is all dependant on how long the problem has been going on but as always I remain confidently optimistic for a reduction in pain with regular treatment.
So fear not if your knee hurts, go see your local clinical massage therapist!