- Written by Leah Nelson
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I have seen runners, bikers, hikers, and the average Joe come in with knee pain. Many get quite a surprise when a specialized massage relieves this pain and follow up self-care treatments prevent it from returning.
Most of these clients have been told to take advil, rest, and if it doesn't get better, they should talk to a surgeon. While some might need surgery because of major ligament and meniscus tears, the average person has knee pain from trigger points in the muscle or fascia. These trigger points and tears in the ligaments are usually caused by movement imbalances. Lengthening of short, tight fascia will help address these imbalances, even after surgery.
3 Different Ways to Relieve Knee Pain
1. Pain on the Outside of the Patella (knee cap) is often attributed to Vastus Lateralis trigger points. This is one of the easiest places to do self massage with a foam roller. If you have knee pain, the first thing you should invest in is a foam roller. For this kind of knee pain (and I would even try this with any knee or other leg pain), lay on the side of your thigh on the foam roller and roll from your hip to your knee. Check out youtube for helpful ways to use your foam roller. Tight inner thigh muscles can also contribute to pain on the outside of the knee, so you can also carefully foam roll your inner thighs, to see if that helps.
2. For Pain on The Patella : The main trigger point referring to this area is hard to get to without help, but you can try sitting in a chair, putting a tennis ball at the top of Rectus Femoris (the point should be right where your hips crease in the front), and pressing gently down on the ball until you feel some tenderness. Hold for a few secs, and repeat until the tenderness subsides a bit. You can also use the foam roller on the top of your thigh, from hip to knee.
3. Inner Knee Pain is usually caused by a tight IT Band, running along the outside of your thigh and attaching into 2 important muscles at the hip- Gluteus Maximus & TFL. The IT Band is hard to change without relieving the tightness in the TFL, Glut Max, and surrounding fascia. Lengthening the TFL might require some assistance, and is difficult to attempt on your own, but using a racquet, tennis, or lacrosse ball on the top of your hip in the area of Gluteus Medius could do the trick. If anything, it might relieve some low back pain occurring on your sacrum.
You'd lay on the ground, knees up and place the small ball just below the top of one hip. You then roll on your side on the ball, and play around with moving the ball until you find a tender spot (a trigger point) and hold there for a minute. Find another spot and repeat, and don't forget the other side, even if it's not bothering you. This should release some of the fascia connecting into your ITB, but it might not be enough if it's your TFL that's too short.
A number of factors contribute to knee pain, and it's important to seek a skilled therapist if you've stopped doing physical activities because of pain. Myofascial and trigger point techniques are extremely helpful for relieving postural imbalances, so pain doesn't reoccur, and the original movement pattern can be corrected. Sometimes all it takes is 1 or 2 specialized massage sessions (including some personalized self care) to get you back up and running!
So don't fret... Pain is just your body's call to action. Do something about it, have hope, and try a few of these tips to get you on your way to healthy knees!