Although Patellafemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) has previously been attributed to quadriceps dysfunction, more recent research has linked this condition to impairment of the hip musculature. Lower extremity strengthening has been deemed an effective intervention. However, research has often examined weight-bearing exercises, making it unclear if increased strength in the hip, quadriceps, or both is beneficial.

Kimberly Dolak, MS, ATC conducted a study in order to determine if PFPS who perform hip strengthening prior to functional exercises demonstrate greater improvements than females who perform quadriceps strengthening prior to the same functional exercises.

In her study, thirty-three females with PFPS performed either initial hip strengthening (hip group) or initial quadriceps strengthening (quad group) for 4 weeks, prior to 4 weeks of a similar program of functional weight-bearing exercises. Self-reported pain, function, and functional strength were measured. Isometric strength was assessed for hip abductors, external rotators, and knee extensors. A mixed-model analysis of variance was used to determine group differences over time.

After 4 weeks, there was less mean ± SD pain in the hip group (2.4 ± 2.0) than in the quad group (4.1 ± 2.5) (P = .035). From baseline to 8 weeks, the hip group demonstrated a 21% increase (P<.001) in hip abductor strength, while that remained unchanged in the quad group.