Training for the Houston Marathon in January? It’s definitely time to start. And as all runners know, knee pain happens. But don’t let it stop you!

According to a report from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, nearly half of running injuries involve the knee.  New research shows a link between weak hips and patellofemoral pain syndrome or PFPS, pain in the front of the knee.  If you are a regular runner with weak hips, your form will disintegrate because your hips can’t properly control your leg motion and you’ll put unhealthy stress on your knees.

The answer to preventing and treating PFPS is to strengthen your hips.  We suggest performing the following exercises to get stronger hips:

  • Forward Lunge - First, stand tall and relax your shoulders and back.  Step forward onto your heel and then with your entire foot.  Keep your posture straight and balanced without leaning to either side.  Finish with your knee above the middle of your foot and your thigh parallel to the ground.  Step backwards to your starting position. Repeat 10 times on both legs.


  • Side Plank - While lying on your side, prop your torso up with your elbow. Press the bottom foot into the floor, placing your other foot on top, and slowly lift your hips up off the ground. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds.  Switch sides and repeat.   If you are unable to balance with your legs straight, bend your knees and lift your hips from the modified position. 

  • Single Leg Bridge - Lie flat on your back while gently bending both knees.  Contract your glutes and lift your hips. Slowly raise one leg and place the ankle on top of the other knee while maintaining your balance.  Hold for five seconds or more.  Repeat this move five times on both legs. 

  • Reverse Step Up - Place an 8 inch step behind you and face forward.  Slowly step back onto the step with one foot.  Be careful to not turn the knee inwards.  Balance, hold and return to your starting position.  Repeat 10 times on both legs. 

Research from the Science Daily shows that performing a hip strengthening regimen twice a week can reduce or eliminate PFPS.  These exercises should reduce your knee pain and keep you on your feet through the finish line.

Happy Training!

Dr. Johnson

Images courtesy of Runner's World.