Knee pain keeping you from participating in the activities you enjoy most? Is reduced range of motion in the knee making it difficult to walk around? Stretching can help re-educate your body by creating new awareness and assist you to relax. Along with regular acupuncture to help reduce knee pain these at-home exercises can help potentiate the effects of your treatments.
Three Dynamic Stretches You Can Do At Home For Knee Pain
Depending on your degree of pain or tightness, the amount you need to stretch before experiencing relief will be different for everyone. Don't be too hard on yourself and stick to a daily schedule of stretching- progress will come. While stretching does not replace seeing us for maintenance acupuncture care, regular stretching will improve range of motion, accelerate healing and prevent further pain from setting in.
1. Hamstring stretches
The hamstring is located on the upper, posterior leg (backside). It is primarily responsible for flexing the knee and pulling the knee backward.
- Begin with a "top down hamstring stretch":???
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bring hands down to the floor.
- Relax the back of your neck. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly roll back up to standing.
- For a deeper stretch:
- Place the heel of one foot up on a surface that is slightly lower than your hip such as a chair or bench. Flex your foot toward your face.
- To increase the intensity of the stretch, bend forward toward your flexed foot, by bending at your hips. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
- If sitting is best for your comfort level:
- Sit on the floor and straighten your left leg in front of you. Bend at the right knee. Place the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
- Fold your body over your left leg, keeping your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
2. IT Band
The iliotibial band runs along the lateral leg (outside) from the hip joint to the knee. It is responsible for structural stability and often takes the brunt of excessive activity. Janis came to see me for knee pain and followed a series of 6 acupuncture treatments. Janis would improve for about three days following her treatments, but then complain of knee pain and lateral leg discomfort four to five days following her treatment. I asked Janis if she was stretching and she was. Upon further query, I learned that Janis was actually overstretching her IT band- not at all uncommon for me to hear this. After educating Janis on proper IT band stretching and with the use of continued acupuncture treatments, Janis' experience of knee pain has been significantly improved overall.
- Try a yoga stretch with your foot externally rotated:
- Come to a low lunge with your left leg in front.
- On an exhale begin to straighten your front leg to the best of your ability. You may need to incorporate support "yoga blocks" or supports on either side of your legs for your handst.
- Take five to ten deep breaths allowing the hamstring to fully relax.
- From here, turn your foot toward the left so you???re on the inner edge of your left foot. Hold this for about ten seconds.
- Slowly pivot back onto your left heel, toes pointing up. Re-bend into your left knee then switch sides, right foot in front.
- If this is your first time, go slowly.
3. Gastrocnemius (Calf Muscle)
The gastrocnemius is located on the lower, posterior leg (back). When it gets tight, the knee feels pain from overstretching since they are connected.
- Begin with a wide wall stretch: ???
- Stand a little less than arm's distance from the wall.
- Keeping your feet parallel, step your left leg forward and your right leg back.
- Bend your left knee and press through your right heel.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds then switch legs.
- Close wall stretch:
- Stand a few inches away from a curb. With one foot, place toes on wall, keeping heel on the floor and flex.
- Hold for 10-15 seconds, then alternate with other foot.
- You can also do this stretch using a curb by hanging heels off the ledge.
Remember, while stretching may help improve your experience of knee pain, it should replace medical treatment for an injury. We look forward to seeing you at a visit soon to help you manage and improve your knee pain.