Knee pain: 5 effective stretches

Knee pain, Leg pain, Stretching (Active Isolated method) / Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Here is a simple and effective stretching routine for knee pain originating in muscles that move the knee joint from the thigh and lower leg: quadriceps, hamstrings, popliteus and gastrocnemius.

1) Stretching the quadriceps in the front of your thigh:

Standing on one leg (hold on to something for balance) bring your other knee up so you can grasp your ankle. Lower your bent knee (still holding your ankle) toward the floor until you feel a pull along the front of your thigh. Exhale and stretch for 2 seconds. Bring the knee back up and repeat the stretch 10 times. (If you can’t reach your ankle, use a strap, belt, rope or towel wrapped around it as an extension of your arm.) The goal is to be able to bring your knee past your other leg behind you.

2) Stretching the hamstrings in the back of your thigh:

Lying on your back, bring your leg to “table top” position, bent at 90º at both hip and knee. Use a rope, strap, belt or towel wrapped around your foot toward your heel to keep the foot relaxed at the ankle. Holding the rope in both hands, tighten your quads to straighten the knee until you can lock it. If you can’t straighten fully, lower the leg until you can. When you feel a pull down the back of your thigh, exhale and stretch for 2 seconds pulling the thigh closer to your chest with the rope. Bend your knee again and repeat the stretch 10 times increasing your range of motion with each stretch.

3) Stretching the gastrocnemius in the calf:

Sitting on the floor with your leg straight out in front of you, wrap a rope or strap or towel around the ball of your foot. Push away with your heel and bring your toes toward your face, actively stretching the calf. Exhale and assist the stretch by pulling on the rope for 2 seconds. Relax your ankle and repeat the stretch 10 times.

4) Stretching the popliteus behind the knee:

It’s more effective to have someone help you with this one. Sit in a seat or lie on your stomach with one knee slightly bent. Actively try to rotate that leg outward (like a duck) without moving your thigh. Exhale as you stretch for two seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times. If you have an assistant, ask the person to twist your leg outward more as you rotate while holding at your ankle. You can also try an isometric contraction by having your assistant hold your foot in outward rotation as you try to rotate inward again. Exhale and hold for two seconds then “let go” and do it again repeating 10 times.

Optional 5) Stretching the long muscles of the inner thigh:

Lying on your back with your leg straight, put a rope around your mid-foot and wrap it inwardly and then around the back of the leg to turn your foot and leg inward (pigeon-toed). Hold the rope with the same-side hand. Keeping your leg straight, pigeon-toed and low to the floor, stretch it outward till you feel a pull on your inner knee and thigh. Exhale and stretch for two seconds. Bring your legs back together and repeat 10 times.