Battle of the Exercises: Quadriceps vs. Hip for Patellofemoral (anterior knee) Pain

Knee pain, specifically in the front region, known as patellofemoral pain, can have a significant effect on quality of life. The good news is that exercise therapy has proven to be a game-changer for this condition. But, which exercise regime works best, focusing on the hip or the quadriceps? Let’s dive into the findings of a recent study to unravel the mystery.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Equal Footing for Hip and Quadriceps: The study set out to compare the effectiveness of quadriceps exercises (QE) against hip exercises (HE) for patellofemoral pain. Surprise, surprise—both showed similar improvements in reducing knee pain and enhancing patient function in the short term.
  2. Sustained Benefits at 26 Weeks: The good news doesn’t stop at the short term. The pain relief and functional improvements from both exercise protocols remained at the 26-week mark since the initiation of the exercise routines. It’s a lasting gift from your exercise efforts.
  3. Exercise Adherence Matters: Participants completed around 28 out of 36 exercise sessions, showing that sticking to the program is key. Whether it’s seated knee extensions or standing hip abductions, consistency pays off.


  1. Tailoring Exercise Plans: Physiotherapists now have more flexibility in crafting exercise plans for patellofemoral pain patients. Recognizing the unique needs of each individual, they can choose between hip-focused or quadriceps-oriented exercises based on patient-specific risk factors.
  2. Combining Therapies for Maximum Impact: This study suggests that exercise therapy, whether targeting the hip or quadriceps, can be complemented with other interventions like orthotics, taping, or bracing. It’s about creating a holistic approach for the best results.
  3. Age Consideration: While the study focused on individuals in their early 20s to early 30s, clinicians need to be mindful of the age range. The prevalence of patellofemoral pain can vary in different age groups, so adapting exercise plans accordingly is crucial.

This study gives us a valuable tool in the form of options. It’s not about choosing between hip and quadriceps exercises; it’s about having an arsenal of effective strategies to tackle patellofemoral pain and help individuals of all ages get back on their feet with less knee trouble.

If you are suffering from anterior knee pain, book an appointment with one of your clinicians to access and create a personalised program for you.


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