Study finds increased hip strength may improve dynamic alignment while running and perhaps alleviate knee pain.

Knee pain is the bane of many runners, sometimes causing them to give up altogether. But knee pain might be lessened by strengthening the hips, a new study finds.

The pilot study, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Baltimore, tested nine female runners who had patellofemoral pain, which some refer to as runner’s knee. The pain often feels like a dull ache around or under the kneecap.

All the runners entered the study with knee pain that was graded on a scale of 1 to 10 while the participants ran on a treadmill. At the beginning of the study all runners were at a pain level of 7. All took part in a six-week hip strengthening program that was guided by Indiana University researchers and included single-leg squats and exercises using resistance tubes. The control group, composed of four of the runners, took part in a six-week control period before starting the program.

After completing the exercises, both groups were at a pain level of 2 or lower. All runners also saw a significant increase in hip strength. According to the study, increased hip strength may have improved dynamic alignment while running, which in turn alleviated the pain. However, since there can be many contributors to knee pain, there could be other causes for the pain as well.