Hip Strength and Running Related Leg Injuries

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In prior posts, we have discussed the importance of hip strengthening among runners.  There is a strong correlation between hip weakness, especially the hip abductors, and knee pain.  Studies have questioned if these strength impairments are present before pain develops or occur due to the onset of pain.  In addition, some research has demonstrated runners may have adequate hip strength but demonstrate poor mechanics and knee pain secondary to coordination impairments.  A Physical Therapy assessment can best identify the root cause of a runner's knee pain and develop an appropriate treatment program involving either strengthen or coordination training.  Recently, a medical literature review was conducted to determine the available evidence on the impact of hip strengthening on running related injuries. 

Authors analyzed 11 studies on lower extremity running injuries looking for significant differences in hip strength between the healthy and injured runners (Mucha et al. J Sci Med Sport. 2016).  In particular, strong evidence was found among patients with IT band pain indicating hip strength plays an important relationship between strength and this diagnosis.  Conversely, evidence was not as strong to support a link between hip strength and other injuries including shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome), stress fracture, and achilles tendinopathy.