By Melissa Gillespie
Often we have clients come and see us complaining of knee pain. There is a certain type of pain that can come on over time which is not necessarily brought on by an ‘injury’. Instead, repetitive movements such as cycling, running or squatting, can provoke ‘patellofemoral pain’.
This type of pain may come and go with these activities and it may feel like it is situated behind or around the knee cap. You may go for a run one day and feel like your knee is fine up until the end, or you may feel the pain come on straight away on your next run. This can be frustrating as you may question why the pain is fluctuating and wonder why your knee is sore when you haven’t ‘injured’ it with any particular movement.
With repetitive use of your legs the muscles can become tight over time if they are not regularly stretched, rolled or massaged. As a result of this tightness, the muscles on the top of your thigh (quadriceps) that attach into and around your knee cap, can pull on the knee cap and cause it to move incorrectly. Consequently, every time you bend and straighten your knee, your knee cap may be moving slightly of center, relative to where it should be. This incorrect movement can result in pain.
While a proper assessment is required in order to determine whether or not you actually have ‘patellofemoral pain’, there are a few things you can try on your own in order to try and relieve this pain.
- Foam rolling. Regular foam rolling can help to relax your muscles when they have become tight after exercise. The best muscle to roll for this type of pain is your quadriceps, along the top and the outside of these muscles. Doing 15 rolls both on the front and side of your quadriceps can help in relieving some of the tension in these muscles.
Supporting your body weight with your hands, you can roll yourself up and down over these muscles, as pictured.
- Quadriceps stretches. Doing a proper warm up before activity and including quadriceps stretches, can also help to relax these muscles and reduce any tension around your knee cap. It is also important to do these after activity. Without a proper cool down and stretches, these muscles can stay tight after exercise.
Bend your knee and pull your foot towards your bottom. Don’t lean forward too much. You can allow your hip to extend back slightly (making the bent knee slightly behind the standing knee), to create a stretch across the front of the hip too.
Hold for 3 x 20 seconds.
- Regular massage. If you are doing large amounts of exercise each week, having regular massages (ie: fortnightly or monthly), can help to ‘reset’ your body and effectively relax these tight muscles that may be causing your pain.
With patellofemoral pain, there are often contributing factors that can cause the pain in the first place. For example, muscles weakness around the pelvis can cause instability in your legs and as a result, place more strain on your quadriceps muscles which then cause your knee pain. Some contributing factors may be muscle weakness, poor lower limb alignment or incorrect footwear.
If you do not have success with trying the rolling, stretching and massage, come in and see us. We would love to help you out in getting to the root cause of what is causing your pain.