Getting knee pain relief is obviously super important for anyone experiencing chronic knee pain or for someone who recently sustained a knee injury. Typically, a person’s knee pain begins with an injury to the ACL or MCL, but sometimes knee pain can become chronic over time, even without a specific injury to the ligaments in or around the knee.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can begin to get relief in the knee very quickly. To start, it is important to understand what can force the knee out of alignment and put stress on it. If you can re-work the muscles above and below the knee and take the stress off the joint, then you should start to get some knee pain relief rather quickly. Of course, a good knee rehab program is the key to a full recovery, but let me get you started right away with a few things you can do to help right now…
First, let’s start with the most basic thing you need to know… the knee is a DUMB joint. That means it does whatever the joints above and below the knee, tell it to do. So, for example, if you’ve recently had an ankle sprain and you never fully healed it, that can put stress on your knee. If you wear ankle braces (or have limited ankle mobility), that can put stress on the knee, because you will walk and run differently (and most of us take thousands of steps a day, so it really adds up!).
Also, if you have a low back or hip injury, that can put a lot of stress on the knee. Or, if you sit a lot of the day and your hips are really tight, that can also put a lot of stress on the knee. Again, the knee just does what it’s told by other joints, so when you have knee pain, you actually want to look at the other joints to find the root cause.
There are lots of reasons that the body can be out of alignment stemming from injury to just the basic fact we sit way too much and our muscles get really tight and weak. The knee is what we call a stabilizer joint, which means it is NOT supposed to move. But, that also means the mobility joints (hips and ankles) need to move correctly. Basically, here’s what happens… the muscles that are supposed to make you move in a certain plane of motion do not fire correctly (they may be weak or tight, etc.), so it forces the movement to happen in another joint (like the knee) and that usually leads to injury or pain.
So, let’s focus today on one of the main culprits for knee pain and what you can do right now to get some relief…
The glute medius is a relatively small muscle, but super important. The IT Band connects to the glute medius and runs down the side of your leg to the knee. Remember, what I said about the knee being dumb and doing what other areas tell it to do? Well, if the glute medius is too tight, it will yank on the IT band, which will yank on the knee and put a lot of stress on it, which usually leads to knee pain or potentially, a knee injury that is more serious (like an ACL or MCL sprain).
A super simple thing you can do right now is to lay down on your side, using a tennis ball (or a softball, baseball, etc…) and find the glute medius. I recommend a ball instead of a foam roller for the glute medius, because it is much more effective. You can apply as much body weight into the ball as you are able, putting the rest of your body weight into the elbow and arm holding you up (see below).
Spend about 5 minutes rolling out the tight, painful areas in your glute medius on each side. You will know you found it when you feel some pain and tenderness in that area. Slowly roll around until you start to feel the pain subside somewhat, which means some of the knots have been released…
After that, take a foam roller and use it on the side of your leg, focusing on the IT band for another 5 minutes (see below). You can roll all the way down the side of the leg, but stop just above the knee joint… This will release some of the tension that leads directly into the knee. Again, focus on areas that are tight and painful until they release. Gently, roll around slowly and apply as much pressure as you can by adding more of your body weight into the foam roller.
Once you’re done, stand up and shake your leg out a little bit. You should feel like a little bit of stress has been taken off you knee. If not, the glute medius may not be your issue, but at least you can rule that out as a cause. However, since we all sit too much, most people find this little strategy gives them a lot of knee pain relief right away.
The next step would be to continue on with a great and high quality knee rehab program to fully get you out of pain and get your knee strong, which protects you from injury and eliminates chronic pain, but this should get you started right now. I hope this helps!!