Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. If you have a question, just ask! Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

 

5 Easy Ways to Relieve Knee Pain

Knee pain is becoming much more common. We work harder, stand longer, and play more aggressive sports. This causes our joints to suffer, especially our knees. The knee is the largest joint in our body, and there are many factors that can cause pain and irritation. When our knee hurts, often we walk differently, and that can cause problems in other places including our back, hips, ankles, and feet.

The main muscles that can cause problems in the knee area are the calf muscles, hamstrings, quad muscles, IT band, and the gluteus muscles. When any of these muscles are tight, they can put extra pressure on the knee joint causing pain. Here are some simple stretches for those areas to help relieve knee pain.

1. The first stretch is for the hamstring muscles. The hamstrings are the key muscles that flex or bend the knee. If these muscles are tight, they can cause a lot of problems, including putting painful pressure on the knee joint.

There are many different ways to stretch your hamstrings, but the hamstring stretch in long sitting is very easy to do without equipment.

To perform the hamstring stretch in long sitting:

  1. Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you, and bend the leg you are not stretching towards you.
  2. Keep your back and knee as straight as you can. Pull your toes towards you, and lean forward bending at your hips until you feel a stretch.

2. The next stretch is for the quad muscles. The quads extend or straighten the knee. If the quad muscle is tight, it puts pressure on the patella and can lead to degeneration of the joint.

There are several ways to stretch the quads, but the quad stretch in prone is the easiest to do with a belt or strap:

To perform a quad stretch in prone:

  1. Lie on your stomach and wrap a belt or dog leash around your ankle.
  2. Put the strap over your shoulder, and pull your foot towards your bottom until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh.

3. Now you will stretch the Iliotibial band (IT band). The IT Band is very important in stabilizing the knee during walking, running, and other activities. It also helps extend and abduct the hip. When it becomes tight, it can rub on the side of the joints and cause irritation and pain at both the knee and the hip.

A lot of people like to stretch the IT band using a foam roll. However, this is sometimes very painful for people. Another great way to stretch the IT band is the IT band stretch supine with a strap.

To perform an IT band stretch supine with a strap:

  1. Lie on your back. Using a strap or belt, wrap it around your foot, and pull your leg up keeping your knee locked out straight.
  2. When it starts to feel tight, pull your leg across your body until you feel a stretch on the outside of your leg. Hold the stretch.

4. Another very important stretch is for the calf muscles. The calf muscles help stabilize the ankle and knee while running, jumping, and other higher level activities. They also flex the leg at the knee. When your calf muscle becomes tight, it can put painful pressure on the knee joint and the ankle joint.

There are several ways to stretch the calf muscles, but the standing calf stretch is easy to do almost anywhere.

To perform the standing calf stretch / runners stretch:

  1. Using a chair or something sturdy for balance, stand with one foot directly behind you and one in front like a lunge position. 
  2. Keeping your back heel down and your foot facing forward, keep your back leg straight and bend your front knee forward until you feel a stretch in your back leg. Hold the stretch.

5. The last stretch is for the glutes. Even though it doesn’t cross over the knee, the gluteus maximus works with the hamstrings to bend the hip and knee, and it helps with stability. When this is tight, it can cause pain and instability at the hip and knee joint.

A great way to stretch this muscle is with the glute figure 4 stretch.

To perform the glute figure 4 stretch:

  1. Sit on the ground with your knees bent up. Cross the leg you want to stretch over the other with the ankle at the top of the knee in a figure 4.
  2. Lean forward until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch.

These are just some of the very simple stretches you can do to help relieve knee pain. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section.

Peripheral Neuropathy Relief in the Feet & Legs

Peripheral neuropathy is basically when you have damage to your peripheral nerves from either a trauma or disease. This can cause your hands and/or feet become numb and tingly. I'll focus on the feet/legs for this video.

Peripheral neuropathy can be caused from diabetes, medications, or even chemotherapy, as well as many other things. Having good flexibility and strength in these areas will help.

The first stretch will be a calf stretch. Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. You can bend the leg you are not stretching towards you. Put a belt, towel, or dog leash around the ball of your foot. Keep your back and knee straight, and relax your ankle. Pull your foot towards you with the strap until you feel a stretch. Hold this for 30 seconds, and do it three times on each side.

Next are ankle pumps. With your legs straight out in front of you, place a roll just under your ankle so your heel can move freely. Trying to keep your leg straight and moving only at your ankle, pull your foot up towards you, and then push it down like you are pushing on a peddle. Then you will do ankle circles. Again, try not to move your whole leg. Keep the movement at the ankle. Do ten one direction, and then reverse it and do ten the other direction.

Now you will do a simple straight leg raise (SLR). You want to squeeze your muscles tight to lock out the knee and pull your toes towards your head to keep the whole leg straight. This will work your hip flexor muscles when you lift your leg off the ground. Use slow controlled movements to make sure you are using the muscles and not momentum. Start off with ten, and work your way up.

Then, you are going to lie on your side. The top leg is going to stay straight and pull your toes up towards you. Keep your body in a straight line as well. This is going to work your hip abductor muscles. Then you are going to work the bottom leg working your hip adductor muscles. Same as above, keep the leg straight. Start with ten of each of these, and do both sides.

In standing, you will do a heel/toe raise off the ground. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, come up on your toes as high as you can. Try not to lean forward, but bring your body straight up and slowly come back down. Push off as much as you can so your heel leaves the ground. Then lift your toes off the ground, alternating back and forth. Start off with ten and work your way up to 20-25.

The last exercise will be a balance series. Stand on one foot, but hold onto something sturdy. Try to balance for 30 seconds to a minute. When that becomes easy, just use one finger one each side. Then just one finger for balance, and finally try balancing without holding on at all.

Related Videos:

Calf Exercises for Strengthening

3 Best Stretches for Knee Pain

IT Band Stretch with Lean

If you're looking for a great way to help stretch your IT Band without having to get on the floor, try the IT Band stretch with a lean.

To perform the IT Band stretch with lean:

  1. Stand next to a wall or something sturdy with the side you want to stretch closest to the wall. Cross the leg you want to stretch behind the other leg.

  2. Take the hip of the side you are stretching and lean it towards the wall like you are trying to touch the wall with your hip. Hold the stretch.

Looking for new HEP software? Prescribe this and other great stretches and exercises to your patients as part of their Home Exercise Program with a FREE HEP Builder account.

Seated Trunk Rotation

Looking for an easy way to stretch out your back? Try a seated trunk rotation.

To perform a seated trunk rotation:

  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight. Twist your upper body to one side, but try to keep your hips in one spot.  

  2. You can use the back of the chair to pull and get more of a stretch. Hold the stretch. Repeat to the other side.

Looking for new HEP software? Prescribe this and other great stretches and exercises to your patients as part of their Home Exercise Program with a FREE HEP Builder account.

Swiss Ball - Knee Extension

Looking for a great way to help strengthen your knees while also strengthening your core? Try a swiss ball knee extension.

To perform knee extensions on a swiss ball:

  1. Sit on the ball with your hips and knees at about a 90 degree angle.

  2. Keeping your back straight and upright, slowly kick your leg straight out straightening your knee. Slowly come back down, and then repeat with the other side.

Looking for new HEP software? Prescribe this and other great stretches and exercises to your patients as part of their Home Exercise Program with a FREE HEP Builder account.

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