How Hip Problems Cause Knee Pain

By Niki Vetten

Pain felt at the outer or inner sides of the knees is often directly related to the hips and can have a variety of causes, which need to be assessed and treated by a specialist.

As explained in Knee Injury and Pain in Yoga, the Gluteus Medius stabilises the pelvis in a horizontal plane and when the Gluteus Medius is not functioning, other muscles take over. Hip stabilisation then occurs via the Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) muscle, which is connected to the Iliotibial Band (ITB). The ITB attaches to the outer side of the knee and pain is felt there if the TFL is compensating for the Gluteus Medius. A physiotherapist may massage and stretch this for you but the problem always returns, because the hip muscles are functioning incorrectly and are the actual source of pain.

Pain in the inner side of the knee, below the kneecap is related because the Sartorius muscle attaches here and it also becomes overactive when hip stabiliser muscles don’t work as they should. It is relatively easy to spot malfunctioning hips in yoga: in standing balancing postures like Vrksasna or Utthita Hasta Padangustasana, the hip pushes out to the side and the pelvis tilts downwards and it is difficult for the person concerned to keep their pelvis level. The hips also usually feel painful and tight.

Teachers and students need to be aware of the importance of keeping the pelvis level during any asana practice- an inability to do so shows an existing problem but bad habits can also create the same problems over time. Hip problems like these can be effectively treated by a good Biokineticist, but if hips are not treated, lower back pain and Sacroiliac joint problems can develop.

Hip weakness also places rotational stress on the knees, Pain at the Kneecap and Knees and Padmasana will look at rotation in more detail. Another related article on this site: Lateral Pelvic Tilt in Yoga Practice

Reading sources: Ellenbecker, De Carlo, DeRosa, 2009, Effective Functional Progressions in Sport Rehabilitation De Franca, 1996, Pelvic Locomotor Dysfunction

Author: Niki Vetten

View Profile

Visit Niki’s Website: Yoga Anatomy for the Perplexed

Here are some of the other articles posted here by Nikki Vetten:
  • Movement Habits and their Effect on Yoga Practice March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten There are three particular movement habits in asana practice that either cause or indicate problems with the hips: These will be covered in detail in separate posts, to keep posts shorter 1. Allowing the hip to push out to the side and not maintaining a level pelvis in the horizontal plane – lateral pelvic ...
  • Hip and Hamstring Flexibility March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten Hamstrings and hips get a lot of stretching in yoga, because everyone wants to do Hanumanasana, and also get their feet behind their heads, preferably both feet at the same time. For many, this will never happen, precisely because they try so hard and focus only on one set of muscles without understanding ...
  • Lower Back Pain and Alignment March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten Another cause of lower back pain is found in the alignment of the left and right sides of the body, some bodies are structurally asymmetrical: one leg is shorter than the other, or the pelvic halves are different sizes, people can be born that way, or their structure can be altered by bone ...
  • Adductors, the Pelvic Floor and Lower Back Pain March 9, 2013 By Niki Vetten Pelvic floor contractions are used in Yoga as part of Pranayama practise- Mula Bandha. The pelvic floor also has an important stabilising function, as it controls the forward and backward movements of the Sacrum – these movements are also called Nutation and Counter Nutation. If the pelvic floor is tight and inelastic, the ...
  • Neck Pain from the Hips March 12, 2013 By Niki Vetten Posture affects our necks negatively when there is anterior or posterior pelvic tilt because the spinal curves are altered and the head is carried in a forward position. The muscle at the front of the neck, the Sternocleidomastoideus (SCM) shortens and the shoulder girdle rounds and shifts forward, exaggerating the curvature of the ...
View more articles by Niki

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Teresa lee says:

    There are a lot of my students who are suffering from knee injury. This is a great help

    • Monica Gauci says:

      Another common reason for knee injury, especially in a practice where a lot of half or full lotus is practiced (eg, Ashtanga Yoga) is from failing to fully flex the knee joint when entering these postures. Completely closing off the knee joint means that all the rotation will happen at the hip joint where it is intended to happen. Knees will object loudly to excessive rotational forces!
      For a more detailed description refer to Gregor Maehle’s first book on the Primary Series, Ashtanga Yoga, Practice and Philosophy.
      Hope this helps…

Leave a Reply

Error: Please enter a valid email address

Error: Invalid email

Error: Please enter your first name

Error: Please enter your last name

Error: Please enter a username

Error: Please enter a password

Error: Please confirm your password

Error: Password and password confirmation do not match