Got Knee Pain?
In my office, I hear over and over, “My knees hurt.” People fear their knee pain is only going to get worse and impact the rest of their lives, maybe even requiring a joint replacement down the road. Well, early knee pain may not be as complicated to resolve as you think.
Knee pain is a problem because it can limit mobility and make it difficult to perform daily activities like walking, climbing stairs, or standing up. It can also impact your quality of life and lead to a decrease in physical activity, which can result in weight gain and further health problems.
There are many possible causes of knee pain, including injury, overuse, inflammation, or arthritis. My first recommendation when someone says they have knee pain and we know there is no underlying injury is to…STRETCH.
Stretching and Knee Pain
Stretching can help alleviate knee pain and improve flexibility and range of motion. Stretching the muscles in your legs and around your pelvis help by reducing the tension and pressure on the knee joint itself, returning the knee cap to its normal position and tracking.
Some stretches that may help alleviate knee pain include stretching your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, along with some foam rolling.
- Quadriceps stretch: Stand near a wall for support and bend your right knee, bringing your heel towards your buttocks. Use your right hand to grasp your ankle and gently pull it towards your buttocks. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
- Hamstring stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs in a V. Reach toward one foot, trying to touch your toes. Hold for 30 seconds and then relax. Then stretch other side. Repeat 3-5 times.
- Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Place your right foot behind your left foot and press your right heel into the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides. You can do the same stretch on a stair step, just make sure you have adequate support/balance.
Foam Rolling for Knee Pain
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that can help alleviate muscle tension, improve flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury. Here are the steps to foam roll your hamstrings:
- Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and place the foam roller under your thighs, just above your knees.
- Place your hands on the floor behind you for support and use your arms to lift your hips off the ground.
- Slowly roll the foam roller up towards your hips, stopping at any areas of tension or discomfort.
- When you find a tight spot, hold the position for 20-30 seconds and then slowly release the pressure.
- Continue to roll up and down the length of your hamstrings for 1-2 minutes.
- To increase the pressure, cross one leg over the other and focus on rolling out one hamstring at a time.
- Be sure to breathe deeply and relax as you roll out your muscles
Foam rolling is also a great way to help relieve muscle tension in the quadriceps. Here are instructions to foam roll your quadriceps:
- Begin by lying face down on the floor with the foam roller positioned under your thighs, just above your knees.
- Use your hands and forearms to support your upper body and slowly begin to roll the foam roller up towards your hips.
- Pause and hold the foam roller in place when you reach a tender or tight area. You can also use your hands to lift your hips off the floor to increase the pressure on the foam roller.
- Hold the position for 20-30 seconds, or until the muscle begins to relax, and then release.
- Continue to roll up and down the length of your quadriceps, pausing and holding at any tender or tight areas, for 1-2 minutes.
- To increase the pressure on a specific area, you can cross one leg over the other, or turn your leg out to the side and focus on rolling out one quadricep at a time.
- Be sure to breathe deeply and relax as you roll out your muscles.
Remember, foam rolling may cause some discomfort, but it should not be painful. If you experience sharp or intense pain, stop and ask your chiropractor for advice.
While knee pain may be common, there are also many stretches you can do all on your own to help lessen the frequency and intensity of any discomfort you may have.