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.
Written by: Coach Todd
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
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:
Are you doing static stretches? Well, you’re on the right track! Let’s keep moving along and looking for that missing piece.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Lastly, place your thumbs on the inner (medial) part of your knee cap. Apply outward (lateral) pressure 5 times in one-second intervals.
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
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!