The Best Muscle to Train for Knee Pain
Gluteus Medius,the most important hip muscle you’ve never thought about
My name is Mark Williams, I’m a registered acupuncturist specializing in the treatment of chronic pain. Previously I was a fitness instructor and personal trainer for 3 decades. Staying fit has always been in my DNA.
At the onset of a worldwide pandemic, I had to physically learn to walk again.
This blog is about lessons learned from my painful rehab journey and the tips, tricks and strategies employed In finding my way back to walk again.
I started training in Taekwondo 2 months before the world shut down. I reasoned that being in my late fifties I was running out of time to fully integrate the physical demands of this Korean martial art. During a sparring round with a 17 year old, I felt an intense pain in my lower leg. Suddenly without any control, I fell to the sparring mat with my full body force. Without realizing it, I had torn my achilles tendon. Any future plans for martial arts were officially over.
Torn Achilles Tendon: The peak age for an achilles tendon rupture is 30-40, with men being 5 times more predisposed to the injury.
Rehabilitation from an injury is tough at the best of times, rehabbing during a pandemic presents a whole different level of frustrations. Suddenly, self reliance and self treatment are required because of pandemic restrictions. Sharing the lessons from my crippling journey back to health is my goal for this blog.
There’s a term I use ”the cascade chain effect”. The way it works is simple, if you hurt your ankles that will eventually affect your knees, which in turn will affect your hips and quite possibly your lower back. It’s important to keep in mind that the “cascade effect” of injuries can happen in any order, or not at all. Push and pull forces throughout the musculoskeletal system can overcompensate for the injury, making things worse and leading to unexpected new injuries. Rehabilitation for these injuries often takes longer and is more costly than one initially envisions.
As a consequence of my torn achilles tendon, overcompensation from the other leg and hip caused major bilateral knee pain, which is when both knees hurt at the same time. Just walking around the block became a major endeavour and I found myself feeling selfishly relieved that the pandemic eliminated the need to go most places.
It’s been a long road on my rehab journey and I’ve worked through a lot of different training modes to realize that one muscle in particular, stands out as a game changer in relieving my knee pain. The often overlooked and definitely underappreciated Gluteus Medius.
So what does the gluteus medius do?
The Gluteus Medius muscle contracts to stabilize the pelvis when walking. The most important thing you need to know is that the glute med also externally rotates the femur at the hip joint so that the patella tracks normally in the knee joint. When the Glute Med becomes weak it allows your femur to internally rotate and cause the patella to track abnormally, eventually leading to knee pain.
Many common knee injuries can occur as a result of hip weakness. As a therapist, I see patients suffering needlessly from knee pain that can be fixed by training and strengthening the gluteus medius. Through trial, error and research, training my gluteus med has been the most beneficial exercise in getting rid of my knee pain
How do I train my Glute Medius ?
My go-to exercise for training the glute med is the side lying leg raise, it’s simple, direct and it works.
Lay on your side.
Straighten your top leg.
Raise and lower your leg slowly, keeping your toe pointing at the ground.
Recommended 3 sets 15-20 reps.
5 times a week for 6 weeks.
Well Folks that’s it for now. Stay tuned, I have more articles and Youtube videos coming.