In Part I of this series, I talked about how poor ankle mobility can cause knee pain, and what to do to fix it. Today, I’m going to talk about the hip and how this complex joint might also be the culprit.  

Here’s today’s self test

1. Take your shoes off and stand in front of a mirror.

2. Squat

3. What does it look like? How does it feel? Does it look like this?

What I want you to pay most attention to is if your knees naturally collapse inward. Without getting to geeky on you, just know that this squat pattern puts a lot of stress on your hips and knees, and could indicate poor hip stability. Even if you don’t squat per se in the gym, this kind of dysfunctional movement pattern can show through even in your walking stride. Chances are you walk. Chances are you also perform some kind of squat in your daily life too.. cough cough …

That’s a lie… Nobody poops but you

Here’s what to do

If you’re part of the general population, you most likely sit for most of the day. This leads to tight hip flexors and weak glutes, which translates to poor hip stability. Here’s a proper progression for you. Always start from the ground up. Master all the “1” exercises before moving on to the “2’s” and “2’s” before the “3’s” etc.

1A. Supine Hip Bridges

Do this with your feet together and your knees pointed slightly outward. This puts your femurs into external rotation and creates a little more glute activation. Really try to use your butt muscles and pinch. If you feel this more in your hamstrings, try a tip I learned from Eric Cressey: Place your hands on your quads. Doing this should activate your quads and shut off your hamstrings.

1B. Side lying clams

When doing clams, make sure to not let your hips open; this should be a small range of motion. The outside of your hips should feel the burn after about 10-15 reps.

1C. Monster walks

Wrap a mini band around your ankles and walk laterally 8 steps each direction. Avoid what I call the ‘weeble wable’: Sticking your leg our first and then moving your upper body. Keep your upper and lower body as one unit.

2A. 10+2 Forward Lunges

Stand with you feet together and your torso tall. If lunging straight forward was 12 oclock you’re going to lunge slightly off to the side at 10 oclock and then 2 oclock. Lunging can put alot of sheer stress on the knees, so if this bothers you, stay away from this one for now. This movement actually works adductors more (the muscles located medially to the knee), which are also vital for knee and hip stability.

2B. Knee Banded Box Squat

Place a mini band around your knees and find a box or a bench. Stand with your feet wide and toes slightly pointed out. Repeat this mantra in your head: “Knees out, butt back, chest tall. Knees out, butt back, chest tall.” It’s as simple as that.  The band around your knees will help reinforce pushing out because you’ll be working against it.

See a video here

3A. TRX Pistol Squat

This is a 1 leg squat variation that requires alot of strength and stability. When doing it with the TRX, just use the handles for balance; try not to pull yourself up with your arms. If you can’t get your butt to your heel (as shown), keep your squat a little more shallow until you build up strength.

3B. The Bowler Squat

The bowler squat is the money move. Here’s a video because pictures don’t give it justice. If you can perform 8 reps without touching your other foot down, you’re awesome. If this is challanging for you, start with 3 reps and build up.

Bulletproof Knees

Like I said in Part 1, the pain you may be experiencing in one part of your body is usually the effect of a dysfunction in another part. Mobile ankles and stabile hips should go a long way for the longevity of your knee health. Obviously, this will not fix everybody’s knee pain. If you have an old injury, like ligament or tendon tear, it may not have healed properly or you may have scar tissue etc. It probably won’t hurt to do some mobility and stretching for your hips as well, but that will be another article for another day 😉

Until next time!