Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Climbers with Knee Pain Should Receive Manual Physical Therapy to Improve Hip Strength

July 19, 2022

During the rehabilitation of rock climbers, many respond favorably to manual therapy techniques such as dry needling and joint mobilizations.

Physical Therapy spinal and extremity joint mobilizations are slow passive movements applied to a patient’s joint surfaces. These interventions have been shown to decrease pain, improve range of motion, and increase the immediate force production of a targeted joint’s musculature. In our Boulder Physical Therapy practice, these joint mobilizations are performed with other manual therapy techniques in order to facilitate a patient’s ability to be able to rock climb at an optimal level. Researchers continue to identify potential mechanisms behind its’ effectiveness, but most authors agree the improvements in strength are due to an improvement in communication between the joint’s musculature and the nervous system. A recent study was conducted to determine the impact of joint mobilizations in a group of patients with anterior knee pain (patellofemoral pain syndrome).

Pfluegler and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled, cross over trial on the impact of hip mobilizations in patients with anterior knee pain (JMMT. 2021). Participants were included in the trial if they demonstrated poor stability on a single leg squat test, hip weakness, and limited hip mobility. Authors then randomized participants to either a placebo joint mobilization for 5 minutes or two hip mobilizations including an anterior posterior glide and a mobilization based on the patient’s mobility impairments. Strength was tested before and after each of these interventions. Authors then had each participant cross over to the other group and repeat the interventions. They reported a significant increase in hip strength following the hip mobilizations compared to the placebo. The authors concluded these mobilizations may provide an opportunity for the patients to exercise with improved muscle activation. during exercise.

If you’re a rock climber experiencing knee pain, schedule an appointment with a rock climbing specialist at Mend. We have locations in Boulder and Lafayette, Colorado. Many physicians, surgeons, and physical therapists do not understand the sport of rock climbing and may give incorrect or ill-advised advice on whether or not to return to climbing. The rock climbing specialists and Mend understand the sport and know when and how to safely return to rock climbing.