If you have pain right behind your knee cap that increases when you run, drop into a lunge or use the stairs, you need to give this quick fix a try. I’ve used it many times on myself, clients and friends, with great results.
Here’s the deal. When you drop into a lunge with overly tight quads, they end up pulling your knee cap into the ends of your leg bones as well as jamming the ends of your upper and lower leg bones into each other. No bueno.
Possible reasons why your quads are too tight:
- You do way more leg extension work than leg flexion.
- You walk on the balls of your feet too much…high heels maybe.
- You drive with the seat far from the gas pedal and have to reach with your foot (gas pedal knee).
exercises for knee pain
First off, give the offending lunge a quick try, just to gauge the level of discomfort.
Can you distribute your weight evenly between the forward and back leg or do you need to put most of your weight into the forward leg?
How deep can you lunge without pain?
Take a mental snap shot of how that felt and re-check after this quick fix.
Step 1: Soft Tissue Work
Your goal is too break up adhesions, release trigger points and increase circulation. Do this by foam rolling the crap out of your quads. Go from the knee up to the hip on the front, inside and outside of your thighs. If it hurts, keep at it. Need a foam roller? You can find them here.
A deep tissue massage is a very good idea too.
Step 2: Increase Muscle Length In Quads
Can you sit on your heels when kneeling without knee pain? If not, it’s a good goal to work towards.
I’ve found the Half Kneeling PNF Quad Stretch to get good results quickly. It’s also pretty intense. If you haven’t done contract/relax (more accurately for the nerds out there, hold/relax. It’s isometric not isotonic) style stretching before, I invite you to put some work into the contract portion.
Step 3: Strengthen Antagonists (Opposing Muscles)
The over-all goal of this process is to rebalance the extensors and flexors of your knee. Now that the extensors have been chillaxed, we need to perk up your flexors.
You can do a good old lying hamstring curl or, here are my two favorites:
Now retest your lunge to see if it feels any better. Can you shift more weight to the back leg or go lower without pain?
If yes, repeat this quick fix during your warm-ups for the next two weeks to reinforce it into your body.
If no, I recommend getting an evaluation to see what’s going on with your knee. What is only minor pain or discomfort today can turn into arthritis and knee replacement in 10-20 years.