Your glutes are the largest muscle group of your body and play an important role in almost all lower body movements. Well-toned glutes stabilize your pelvis, generate explosive power for sprinting, jumping, etc. and have obvious aesthetic value. Unfortunately, sitting on these muscles for long periods of time every day can weaken them causing a collapsing kinetic chain that could potentially result in knee pain.
How this occurs
The gluteus muscles abduct your hip, pull your leg out to your side, and rotate your thigh outward while sitting. When your glutes are weak, your thigh tends to rotate inwards. This is an abnormal position that puts a lot of stress on the knee increasing the risk of problems such as:
- ACL injury– An injury to an important knee-stabilizing ligament.
- Patellofemoral stress syndrome– Pain in the area just above the kneecap.
- Pes anserine bursitis– Irritation of the bursa in the lower inner aspect of the knee.
- Patellar tendonitis– Inflammation of the kneecap tendon.
- IT band friction syndrome– Pain is felt on the outer aspect of the knee and thigh.
Strengthening your glutes normalizes hip and thigh position, reduces the loading force on the knee joint and prevents the knees from caving in on each other when landing from a jump, squatting, or running.
Here are some glutes-strengthening exercises that will help protect your knees from injury:
- Hip Flexor Stretch:Kneel on your right knee with your left foot flat on the floor in front of you. Next, lean forward stretching your right hip towards the floor. Squeeze your glutes during the movement to increase the intensity of the stretch. Hold the position for a few seconds and perform the stretch on the opposite hip.
- Squats:Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly bend your knees as if sitting down on a chair until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a second and return to the starting position. At no point during the movement should your knees be allowed to move ahead of your toes.
- Lunges:From a standing position, take a big step forward to move one foot about 3-4 feet in front of the other. Lower your torso by bending both knees to about 90 degrees. This movement should transfer your bodyweight onto your front foot. Now reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
Perform as many repetitions of these exercises as you can with strict form 2-3 times a week and within a few weeks or months you will develop strong glutes that offer better protection for your knees.
Consult Dr. Ronak Patel for an in-depth evaluation if your knee pain is restricting your active lifestyle.
Dr. Ronak Patel is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon offering a full range of care for all problems of the knee and shoulder with a special interest in complex knee disorders. Book your appointment with Dr. Patel today: (630) 929-2249.