TULSA, OK—Knee overuse injuries are the most common musculoskeletal complaints in military trainees and are common in active-duty warfighters, according to a new study which suggested a possible link between lower hip and thigh strength and knee overuse injuries.

While muscle strengthening is usually recommended, according to the study published recently in the Journal of Athletic Training, research is conflicting in this area, making it difficult to develop effective screening, prevention and training interventions for warfighters.1

To remedy that, University of Tulsa-led researchers sought to determine whether lower extremity muscular weakness contributes to knee overuse injuries and identify specific muscular involvement.

A meta-analysis included 25 studies between Jan. 1, 2000, and Jan. 1, 2013, with information on uninjured and injured groups; the sample size, means, and standard deviations for all groups; identification of the specific muscles assessed; and clearly defined knee injury.

Results indicate that individuals with symptoms of a knee overuse injury have lower absolute and normalized hip muscle strength.

“Specifically, they had lower absolute hip external-rotator, knee-extensor, and knee-flexor strength, as well as lower normalized hip external-rotator, hip-extensor, and hip-abductor strength, compared with asymptomatic control participants,” according to study authors, who call for further research to determine if weakness is a cause or a result of knee overuse injuries before screening and intervention can be developed for at-risk warfighters.

1 Kollock RO, Andrews C, Johnston A, Elliott T, Wilson AE, Games KE, Sefton JM. A Meta-Analysis to Determine if Lower Extremity Muscle Strengthening Should Be Included in Military Knee-Overuse Injury-Prevention Programs. J Athl Train. 2016 Mar 31. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27031886.