Are you experiencing knee pain while running? A common cause of knee pain is weak hips. Weak hips can cause pain on the front of the knee or the side of the knee 1,2. The hips work to control movement at the knee and weakness can lead to increased pressure and strain on the knees3. Weak hips not only lead to knee pain but can increase your risk of injuries, including the ankles and hips4.

Three common hip strengthening exercises that can help decrease knee pain are:

Bridges: Begin lying on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your abdominals then your buttocks and lift your hips off the ground.

bridge exercise step 1
bridge exercise step 2

Clamshells: Begin lying on your side with your hips and knees bent. Slowly lift your top knee keeping your feet together. Make sure not to let your hips roll back. Slowly lower and repeat.

clamshell exercise step 1
clamshell exercise step 2

Side lying leg lifts: Begin lying on your side. Lift your top leg up towards the ceiling and slightly back, making sure to keep your top foot inline with the bottom foot. Make sure not to let your hips roll forward or backwards.

leg lift exercise step 1
leg lift exercise step 2

Each exercise can be repeated 10-30 times for 1-3 sets. Do not perform if any exercise causes pain and seek assistance of a physical therapist.

See a Capstone physical therapist to assess your running, strength, and flexibility to set you up with a complete program to keep your body happy and healthy while running.


  1. Cichanowski HR, Schmitt JS, Johnson RJ, et al. Hip strength in collegiate female athletes with patellofemoral pain. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007; 39(8):1227-1232.
  1. Fredericson M, Cookingham CL, Chaudhari AM, et al. Hip abductor weakness in distance runners with iliotibial band syndrome. Clin J Sport Med 2000; 10(3):169-175.
  1. Ireland ML, Willson JD, Ballantyne BT, et al. Hip strength in females with and without patellofemoral pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2003; 33(11):671-676.
  1. Leetun DT, Ireland ML, Willson JD, et al. Core stability measures as risk factors for lower extremity injury in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004; 36(6):926-934.