Beating Knee Pain – Part II

In the Part I of this four part series we touched on the basics when it comes to knee pain and some of the fundamental issues that can cause chronic knee pain. If you haven’t read Part I yet, I would recommend you go back and take a quick look at that before you continue.

In the second part of this series we are going to talk about tissue quality/length as well as some mobility drills that you can and should be doing in order to get and keep your knees pain free. This isn’t the most exciting stuff in the world, but if knee health is truly a priority you’ll make room to fit it into your routine.

Tissue Qaulity & Length

If you ask me, improving your tissue quality as well as the tissue length is the easiest thing you can do in order to improve or maintain you knee health. That being said it seems like it is something that everyone likes to overlook or not do on a regular basis. I am the first one to admit that it can be very boring at times, but if it’s the difference between knee pain and pain free knees it’s hard to pass on it.

The most basic way to improve tissue quality is foam rolling and targeted lacrosse ball tissue work. The foam roller is basically a $25 massage. Is it as effective as a massage? No – it’s hard to match the expertise of a great massage therapist and their ability to find the sweet spots and really do some work with their hands. On the other hand, you get the most bang for your buck with a foam roller and a lacrosse ball.

As far as what parts of the body you want to target to improve knee health the obvious answer is most all the lower body. Make sure to get some quality time on everything – your calves, quads, glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, IT Band/TFL and groin/adductors. Don’t be afraid to use the lacrosse ball for a more intense session. Be creative, you can use the lacrosse ball practically anywhere.

Mobility 

First off, if mobility is a new concept to you I highly recommend you read the Joint by Joint Approach article written by Mike Boyle. The article is a great read on the importance of mobility as well as stability throughout the body and what segments of the body are designed for mobility and what segments are designed for stability.

Joint

Mobility/Stability

Ankle

Mobility

Knee

Stability

Hip

Mobility

Lumbar Spine

Stability

Thoracic Spine

Mobility

Scapulae

Mobility/Stability

Glenohumeral

Stability

That being said, the two major areas we need to be concerned with when it comes to knee health are the ankles and the hips. Both the hips and the ankle are designed for mobility. To be simplistic, when we lack mobility at either one of those joints, the body looks for ways to make up for that lack of mobility elsewhere. In both cases, when mobility is lost at the ankle and/or the hips, that elsewhere becomes the knee. Unfortunately, as you can see from the table above the knee is not designed for mobility, its designed to provide stability. That’s why your knee is bothering you…its trying to do its own job while also trying to pick up the slack for the lackluster performance of your ankle and/or hips.

Ankle Mobility Drills

Again, here are a couple hip mobility drills that you can do on your own to improve your mobility. The last video is another classic Kelly Starrett video where he will drop some knowledge bombs on some ways to improve the mobility at your hips.

So far in the first two parts of this series we’ve touch on the basics of knee pain and some of the often overlooked aspects of knee pain like tissue quality/length and mobility and how they may influence the health of your knee. In the third part of this series we’ll get into some of the actual strength training that will help get and keep your knees as healthy as possible.

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