Simple Combo to Eliminate & Prevent Knee Pain

Many individuals experience minor pain and discomfort from chronic injuries over the course of their training.  One injury experienced by active individuals is patellofemoral stress syndrome.  This diffuse aching pain in the front of the knee plagues many athletes and non-athletes who strength train.  Even though it typically affects females more often than males, this injury may be sustained by anyone involved in physical activity.  Without getting too in-depth as to how this occurs, basically what happens is the patella (“kneecap”) doesn’t track right in the front of the knee, which causes friction and irritation as one performs activity. 

There are various reasons as to why this occurs in individuals; typcially muscle imbalances are the culprit.  One common imbalance that causes this is a tight and overtive IT band (long band of tissue that goes down the outside of your thigh) coupled with a weak VMO (the teardrop shaped muscle on the inside part of your quad).   This combination causes your patella to have a tendency to track to the outside (lateral) area of the knee, which causes the irritation. 

One way to both solve and prevent this problem would be to incorporate the following two exercises into your warm-up prior to lower body strength training days (especially if you are squatting):

 
  

Harder version with no support foot

Start Position- Band TKE

Finish. Drive heel into the ground.Heel touch TKE.

 
        
 

Begin by performing the foam rolling exercise for the IT Band.  20-30 Slow rolls over the outside of the thigh between your hip and knee (avoid going over the bony protrusions in both areas).  If you have never done this before, it will be uncomfortable.  Depending on how hard the roller is you are using (I actually use a PVC pipe, but I wouldn’t recommend you start there) will dictate how aggressive the rolling will be.  Pictured above are two versions of foam rolling for the IT band.

For the TKE, take a resistance band and wrap it around a stationary object and the back of your knee (you can place a towel between the band and your knee if it bothers you).  Do 2-3 sets of 10-30 reps for this exercise (this area responds better to higher repetitions).  It it better to do the foam rolling first, as this will relax the tissue on the outside of your thigh prior to doing the TKE exercise.  

A variation to the TKE is the heel touch TKE.  Using a low step or box, lower yourself under control and lightly touch your heel to the ground.  Driving your heel into the ground on the weight-bearing side, straighten your leg out completely.  Sets and reps for this exercise would be the same as for the band TKE.

 

Utilize this combination with some other lower extremity mobility exercises to complete your warm-up.  Post any questions related to including theses items into your warm-up.

      

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