Knee Pain - Part I: Stretching
A must read for any runner, whether you’re a beginner or a pro
We have a three part blog post to help give you some insight into your knee pain and tips to prevent injury.
In this, the first post in the series we are going through our tips on releasing tight muscles affecting your knees, part two and three will look at strengthening, balancing and other issues affecting our knees so don't miss them.
Release your Tensor Fascia Latae
Pain on the outside of your knee could by your Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) working overtime, your TFL is actually at the front of you hip, but it connects to the Iliotibial Tract (IT band) which runs all the way down to your knee. So when you TFL is over working, it can sometimes pull on the IT and cause pain on the outside of the knee.
Lie on your side with a ball under the front of your hip, demonstrated here.
Stretch your Adductors
The adductors are what you feel when you try and do the splits. They turn our hip joints and legs inwards. The Adductor Magnus attaches from our pubis down the inside of our legs to the knee and can be a surprising cause of knee pain.
If your knees are rotating inwards you could feel pain on the outside of your knee as the opposing muscles are trying to pull back, it's important to remember, where we feel the pain isn't necessarily where the problem is.
In that vain, if we feel the pain on the inside of the knee, it may not be that your adductors need stretching, it could be that they are already stretched. You then need to look at other muscles, such as the piriformis that could be pulling your leg in the opposite direction (laterally).
Put a ball in your Piriformis
Tight external rotator muscles like your Piriformis can turn your leg out, putting the adductors in stretch and causing pain because the adductor is trying to pull your leg back into neutral.
Follow this video and roll a ball around your bum, don’t go too hard though as there are a lot of nerves in this area that you don’t want to damage.
Roll and Stretch your Quads
Your quads, wrap around your knee cap (patella), so you need to keep them in good order otherwise you risk your knee cap being pulled out of alignment by an overly tight quad muscle, you also risk putting extra strain on your ligaments around the knee joint.
You can foam roll and stretch your quads which can also help stretch out those hip flexors, you can use a towel to wrap around your foot if you can't reach your foot.
However, you also need to ensure your quads are strong, as a lack of stability also causes knee pain. Don't miss our next post on strengthening your muscles to address this.
Roll and put a ball under your Hamstrings
It’s important to keep a healthy balance between your hamstrings and quads, as well as between the hamstrings themselves.
The hamstrings attach at either side of the back of your knee, they are your Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, Bicep Femoris Long Head and Bicep Femoris Short Head. If one muscle or a muscle group (Quads Vs Hamstrings) is overly tight the knee could start to feel the strain of being pulled one way or another.
A great way to get a release is putting a ball under the top of your hamstring right where it inserts with your ischial tuberosity (at the bottom of your bum). Roll it around and you should feel a good release.