Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Exercises

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Patellofemoral pain exercises for strengthening the muscles which help correct patella tracking.

Strengthening exercises can usually begin as soon as they can be performed without pain. The aim of patellofemoral pain exercises is usually to strengthen the muscles on the inside of the knee or vastus medialis obliques as well as the gluteus medius muscle on the outside of the hip.

Isometric quadriceps

Isometric quadsThis is suitable for the athlete that has pain and is unable to perform standing exercises. The athlete sits on the floor with a foam roller or rolled up towel under the knee so that it is slightly bent. The hand is placed on the vastus medialis muscle (just above and to the inside of the knee cap) so the athlete can feel it contracting.

It is essential that the athlete learns to isolate the vastus medialis muscle and feel it being used for strengthening to be effective. Turning the foot outwards may increase the load on the VMO. A muscle stimulator or tens machine can help in the early stages.

Contact the muscles, hold for 3 to 5 seconds, relax and repeat 10 times. The foot should lift up off the floor as the knee straightens. This exercises should be performed 3 to 5 times a day if pain allows.

Play isometric quadriceps exercise video.

Heel drop exercises

Heel drop exercisesA more advanced exercise than a static contraction. Again it should be emphasized that the knee should be kept pointing forwards throughout the exercise and the athlete should be aware that it is the vastus medialis on the inside that is working.

The athlete drops down off the step as far as is comfortable (this does not always need to be all the way down) and returns to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and aim to perform a number of sets throughout the day.

Play heel drop exercise video.


The clam exerciseLay on your side with the knees bent to 90 degrees and feet in line with your spine. Lift the top knee away from the bottom knee. Make sure you keep the lower back and pelvis still and don't rock backwards. You should start to feel the Gluteus Medius muscle at the back, top of the hip working. Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions and gradually increase to 3 sets of 15-20.

Play clam exercise video.


Lunge exerciseThis exercise should be started as soon as pain will allow. Tape the knee if necessary to avoid pain. Stand one foot in front of the other, the injured knee forwards. Bend the front knee enough to feel the vastus medialis is working. Aim to keep the knee pointing forwards - don't let it fall inwards. Return to starting position and repeat. Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Again it may be better to perform a number of sets throughout the day, especially in the early stages of rehabilitation or for a particularly weak muscle.

Play lunge exercise video

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