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3 go-to exercises for knee pain


What do you think is the most common question we get from friends and family as a Physical Therapy clinic?

Yup, you probably guessed it - "What can I do about this pain I have right here?"

Honestly, we have no idea. We don't know what is actually going on with your specific pain or injury unless we do a full evaluation. But we want to help with your pain or injury, so we do our best to problem solve in the middle of Thanksgiving Dinner, knowing that you probably aren't going to do what we said.

Even though we cannot give an accurate answer that will definitely help with pain, we can give suggestions that have helped other people just like you. Because a lot of people have pain that limits life, training, and performance, and we don't want you to be one of them. 

Today's question: "What can I do about this knee pain?"

Full disclosure: These physical therapy exercises for knee pain may or may not work for you. Try at your own risk. 

1: Exercise for quadriceps and knee mobilization

The first exercises for knee pain is focused on trying to get the quadriceps muscles moving better. This is similar to a basic quad stretch, with a little twist.

Here's how you do it: Pull the band around your ankle while lying on a bench. You should begin to feel the mobilization in the hip and quadriceps (front of the thigh). 

Hold this for 5 seconds.

Now, straighten your knee a bit to stretch the band. Hold this for another 5 seconds. 

After 5 seconds, relax slowly into the "Stretch" position. Repeat this sequence - pull 5 seconds, push 5 seconds - 5 times.

That's your first exercise for knee pain. Simple right? Let's keep going.

2: Exercise for quadriceps engagement

Next, we need to get the muscles working a little bit. We want to work the muscles through the full range of motion in a scenario that is not alarming to the body. Spanish squats are an excellent exercise to help do exactly that. Focus on the knee movement while doing this. Try to hit 8 repetitions. The goal is to feel absolutely fatigued by #6, then push to #8. So choose a band and weight that helps you accomplish that.

Here's the basic overview - the band goes behind your knee and is attached to something very stable. Stretch the band by walking back until you feel as though the band will slingshot you forward. Squat by letting the band pull forward on the knees; stand by pulling the knees back to stretch the band.

That's #2. Pretty difficult if you're doing it right. Don't worry, #3 is easy.

3: Exercise for calf soft tissue mobilization

So, at this point, we have beat up the quads enough. We are going to transition to the calf muscles. 

"But why are we working there? My knee hurts, not my calf!" Totally understand the thought there, but just as the quadriceps cross the knee in the front, the calf muscle (gastrocnemius to be precise) crosses the knee in the back. This muscle is commonly a contributor to knee pain. The location of pain is often not the cause of pain.

Watch the video for a good explanation, but the basic gist is to find the nasty, tender spot on the calf and smash it with a ball. Put the ball on the floor, put your calf on the ball, and put your other leg on top of that. Your goal is to find a nasty, achy spot. To make it more effective, do a few ankle pumps. This should be uncomfortable, not painful. The rule is that you have to be able to breath through the discomfort.

What stretches and exercises can I do for knee pain?

Alright, so that's the answer I give when people ask "what should I do about this knee pain?". Again, it is impossible to know exactly what is going on without doing a full assessment. Knee pain could be quadriceps and calf related. It could also be from the hamstrings, low back, ankle, and hip. 

So if you want to stop guessing and get to the bottom of it, schedule a Physio Eval. Here's how we help with knee pain:

  1. Evaluate the condition and create a plan. Effort without a plan is often wasted. Where are you right now and where do you want to go? The answer to that question is the focus of your Physio Eval. 
  2. Alleviate the pain. When the body senses pain, it alters how muscles work, how joints move, and how movement is patterned. Ease the pain so you can not only feel better, but also see what is actually happening.
  3. Fix the underlying cause. The location of pain is often not the cause of pain. Full resolution can only come when we fix that cause. We now target that cause through corrective exercises, accessory work, and strength training.
  4. Build resilience. At this point, pain has resolved and injury has healed. We want to maintain that progress and quickly correct anything that pops up. Long-term, life-long results happen now.

A lot of people have pain that limits their performance and training, and we don't want you to be one of them. Let's fix your knee pain so that you can achieve your dream outcome.

Get started now with one of the following options:

1. Schedule a Physio Eval with us now on our booking page.

2. Fill out the form below and we will contact you. It's that simple.

We are excited to get the chance to work with you! One of our owners, Jessica, will reach out directly to you to assist.


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