Knee Cap Release: The Missing Mobility Knee Stretch for Painful Knees

knee stretch | Feel Good Life with Coach Todd

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Knee stretches are an important part of every knee rehab plan. But static knee stretches aren’t always enough to get rid of knee pain. Add this mobility knee stretch technique to your daily routine to relieve pressure deep within the knee and improve overall knee health.

Have you ever felt like getting rid of knee pain is kind of like a scavenger hunt? A friend tells you about an amazing knee stretch. It worked wonders for her knee pain.

You try it and… bummer. It’s a dud. Why did the stretch work for her but not for you?

Don’t lose hope. Knee stretches can work for you, too.

Knee Stretching Can Relieve Pain & Protect Your Joint

Knee stretches and exercises are two of your most powerful non-drug weapons against osteoarthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

When you have greater freedom and mobility around your knee, you’re less likely to struggle with knee pain, knee stiffness, and future injury.

Muscles and tendons get shorter and weaker over time if you don’t use them. Makes sense, right? Inactivity is like kryptonite for your knee.

Enough exposure and your knees will no longer be able to handle the same activities you once could.

So what happens when the next time you bend down to pick that ripe rutabaga with short, weak muscles?

Snap, crackle, POP! Ouch!

Knee stretching can help protect your joints from future injury by maintaining mobility and improve range of motion.

3 Types of Knee Stretching: Static, Dynamic & Mobilization

1. The Static Knee Stretch

Most knee stretches are passive. Passive means you stretch the muscle until you feel a gentle tug and hold the position.

Passive stretches are great for improving flexibility and range of motion. They typically target more of the muscle belly and are considered more superficial.

Examples of static stretches that you may be doing are:

The static knee stretch

Are you doing static stretches? Well, you’re on the right track! Let’s keep moving along and looking for that missing piece.

2. The Dynamic Knee Stretch

Instead of holding a position for a prolonged time, with dynamic stretching, you will now move the joint through a full range of motion.

This is what you see many baseball players doing before they get up to bat.

Some examples for your knee may be walking while doing high marches or doing “butt kicks” where you try to literally kick your butt with your heel.

Now, dynamic stretching isn’t quite the missing piece we were looking for but look at these incredible benefits!

Benefits of dynamic knee stretching

Passive knee stretching is common in knee rehab programs. Dynamic knee stretching is less common. But Mobilization Knee stretching is even less common.

I think we found the missing piece!

3. The Mobilization Knee Stretch

When performing a mobilization knee stretch, you aren’t passively stretching the muscle or dynamically moving the knee.

You are using your hands to create small stretches within the tendons around your knee cap. This helps improve knee cap mobility.

The technique is called “Knee Cap Releasing” and is fantastic at improving range of motion within the knee cap.

Why is it called “releasing”? Over time, the tendons that surround your knee cap can tighten and prevent your knee cap from tracking properly. This can cause knee pain. So Knee Cap Releasing helps free it up.

Knee Cap Releasing: The Missing Mobility Knee Stretch for Painful Knees

Sit on a couch with one leg up. You can also use two chairs facing each other. You’ll need your knee straight so that your knee cap (patella) can get the maximum range of motion.

Place your thumbs at the top of your knee cap. Your fingers will drape around each side of your knee creating a cupping position.

knee cap releasing technique

Apply downward pressure so that your knee cap floats downward in the direction of your foot.

You won’t get a lot of motion so don’t expect your knee cap to sprout wings and fly. Use firm but gentle pressure and press until you reach the full range of motion.

Do this 5 times in the downward direction in one-second intervals.

Now, place your thumbs underneath your knee cap. Apply upward pressure on your knee cap and slide it upward. Do this 5 times in one-second intervals.

Knee cap releasing technique step 2

Thirdly, place both thumbs on the outside (lateral) side of the knee cap. Apply an inward (medial) pressure on the knee cap. Do this 5 times in one-second intervals.

Knee cap releasing technique step 3

Lastly, place your thumbs on the inner (medial) part of your knee cap. Apply outward (lateral) pressure 5 times in one-second intervals.

Knee cap releasing technique step 4

Is THIS Knee Stretch That Powerful To Reduce Knee Pain?

Yep, here are a couple of reasons why…

First, when your body is injured, it shoots out inflammation to protect the joint. But this also creates more pressure inside the joint which can cause pain. When you stretch the muscles, you decrease overall inflammation.

Second, if your knee pain is caused by misalignment from tight muscles, this simple knee stretch can relieve pressure caused by tight muscles.

Important Safety Tip When Stretching The Knee

Important Safety Tip When Stretching The Knee

If you are feeling pain when doing this mobilization knee stretch or any knee stretch, stop. The adage “no pain, no gain” should have walked the plank decades ago. Stop if you feel pain.

Have you ever had to tighten that little screw in your eyeglasses? It’s kind of a pain, right? Any screwdriver from your toolbox won’t necessarily work.

You have to use that mini screwdriver because the screw is so small.

Knee pain is the same way. If you’ve had knee pain for a while and have tried stretching your knee without success, you may need a smaller screwdriver.

This Knee Cap Releasing technique may be the mini screwdriver that helps relieve your knee pain.

Understand that knee stretches are just one tool in your knee relief toolbox. If you’d like to follow a specific stretching and exercise plan to help relieve knee pain, I encourage you to check out our 5 Minute Feel Good Knees system.

The program teaches you gentle isometric based exercises to improve knee alignment, reduce painful inflammation, and strengthen the muscles of the knee.

To your health!

Wondering What's Next?

Discover 11 Easy, At-Home “Stretch Exercises” for Stronger, Pain-Free Joints (click below)

14 Responses

    1. Belinda, we have a program called Feel Good Body that has a section that focuses on lower back pain and a section for neck pain. It also focuses on the following: shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and ankles!

  1. I just completed the 6 weeks of your Feel Good knees and I can safely say it is the best thing I've done since I started having really bad knee pain over a year ago. I could not even just walk about supermarket without pain. Now I can. I can bend my knee more (still not fully but significantly more than before this program) and I can now straighten more without pain (not fully but much, much more now). The inner knee pain has also reduced a lot. There is still a little niggle if I walk too far or try to walk too fast. And there is still a little instability. After the 6 weeks is completed what do you recommend next? Do I just repeat the 6 weeks again?

    1. Belinda, that is awesome! I am very glad to hear that your knee pain has reduced significantly. What we recommend after completing the 6 weeks is continuing with the phase three exercises a few times a week. You no longer need to do them daily but a few times a week will help with joint maintenance. You can also return to doing other exercises if you would like.

  2. I was in a wreck 5 years ago and broke 11 bones. My left leg has the biggest injury. I had screws and rods but after 3 years I had pain in my shin area. Turns out the metal had fractured so it was removed. Then 2 yrs ago I had a knee replacement (titanium) and I have not walked well since. I have to use a cane and my knee buckles and down I go.I walked better before the replacement. I have lost all confidence and rarely leave the house. Do you think.your program could help me?

    1. Diane, great questions! I would definitely recommend checking with your doctor or PT before starting the program to ensure the exercises are right for you.

  3. I have been doing your exercises now for 8 weeks the swelling of my knee as gone done a little but still have pain when walking: conclusion of my right knee
    OA change of right knee more on medial tibiofemoral & patellofemoral compartments
    Mucoid degeneration of ACL. The PCL. is intact.
    Complex tear medial meniscus from the bodywork posterior horn with medical meniscal extrusion.
    Grade I MCL sprain & LCL sprain at proximal attachment .Popliteus tendinosis I
    Diffuse full thickness cartilage loss of opposing medial femoral condyle& condyle & tibial plateau with subchondral edema with small subchondral fracture line both sites.
    Diffuse full thickness cartilage loss of opposing medial patellar facet & medial femoral trochlea.
    Moderate joint effusion wit frond-liked synovial proliferation at suprapatellar pouch possible lipoma arborresens.
    Bakers cyst measured about 4.5x2. 3x6.2cm containing multiple osteochondral bodies up to 1.7 cm possibly.

    1. I'm glad to hear you are seeing some improvement! You have a lot going on in your knee and it may take longer than the normally recommended timeframe to see full improvement. Keep up the great work Roy!

  4. I’m working my way into your exercises and stretches! Thank you - I have two artificial hips (done 25years ago) my right shoulder has been replaced - and now I’m on a wait list for a Complex Joint Specialist to have my right knee replaced! Each of these operations have given me my life back! My Hips were a birth defect that they missed in 1949 - when they should have caught it - but there was more going on for me at birth. Shoulder was a horse reared up taking my arm up and back tearing my rotor cuff! I have had wonderful surgeons and am using your exercises to try and save my knee. It tips in at the knee and dislocates since childhood! Your exercises are strengthening it but it hurts so much - I’ll keep at it and see if I can manage not to have the surgery or at least I’ll have a good recovery!

    1. Wow, Cathy! You've had quite the life of some crazy surgeries! Exercise before surgery can actually improve your outcomes post-op. I just wrote an article on it:

  5. You mentioned in another article that thee was a difference between bursitis and impingement of the shoulder. I believe I have the latter and I would like to see your suggestions on how to strengthen those muscles. (Depending on how I hold my arm the shoulder bone pops forward). It is sometimes quite painful. Thanks

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