When it comes to knee pain or any other pain in general, lots of folks fall into the trap of trying to treat the area that is hurting them rather than looking for the root of the problem. The human body is an amazing system of checks and balances and lots of people forget that. If you want to flex your elbow, your biceps (protagonist) engage. But for the opposite action of extending the elbow, the triceps (antagonist) are then engaged. These systems riddle the body and often time are in place to prevent you from over extending or flexing, and when the system fails, injuries can occur.
Of all the pains that I encounter, the most reoccurring for me is patellar tendon pain. Whether it’s walking up stairs, a heavy squat session, or doing multiple reps in the clean, the pain can occur at a moments notice. Keep in mind we are talking about minor knee pain here. If you are experiencing excruciating pain, a significant amount of swelling, or range-limiting trauma, you better get yourself to a professional in order to rule out anything serious.
I have compiled a short list of some quick fixes to help alleviate knee pain after a tough training session. Every one of these solutions takes under 5 minutes and require little to no extra equipment to carry around in your gym bag. As stated before this is meant to help with minor knee pain. Of course a proper warm up and cool down routine will do wonders for your training longevity, but sometimes things happen and you need a little tune up. Here’s what we have for you:
1: Voodoo Floss
I figured I’d start with this one because it’s the least likely to be your go to unless you are a sick and twisted individual. These bands can be purchased from a number of companies (I recommend the MDUSA ones as they have varying sizes and strengths) and don’t take up a lot of space in the gym bag. There are a plethora of ways to wrap the knee but for a quick and easy approach: 1) start about 2-3 inches above the knee 2) Wrap tightly down the knee joint (if it’s too loose, then you won’t get as much use from it. But don’t cut off the circulation with it being too tight either). 3) I overlap the band just on the edges on each side as I am wrapping it down in order to make sure the biggest surface area is being covered. 4) Secure the end really good. The last thing you want is the band coming undone mid work, not cool. 5) Now the painful part: get in a kneeling position (this may take a few seconds because it hurts like heck getting in this position). 6) Rock back and forth making sure to get hamstrings to calves and open the joint as much on the opposite motion. 7) Repeat these “pumps’ 10 times and then hold the hamstring to calf position for a 10 second count. 8) Repeat the “pumps” and “hold” for 2-3 rounds depending on your pain tolerance and then get that thing off as fast as you can. Do not keep your knee wrapped for more than a 2 minutes.
The science behind voodoo flossing is with the band compressed around the joint and you forcing it through a range of motion you are flushing all the blood out of that area. When the band is released all the blood comes rushing back into the effected area. This new rush of blood brings in key nutrients and other factors that aid in the healing process. I reserve this method for desperate measures when nothing else works but if you are more man than I, going to this right away will help alleviate a lot of your knee pain. Check out our video for an in-depth tutorial. Moving on!
2. Self Myofascial Release
I chose the worst method for getting this done possible, but it’s not the only way. For those of you who may not know or forgot, myofascial release is simply working on tight muscle tissues getting the sheaths that cover the muscles to expand and allow for the muscles to loosen up and breathe. There are multiple ways to get this done. The easiest and least expensive way is to get a PVC roller (foam just doesn’t cut it with this sort of thing) or a lacrosse ball and roll out the quad, the IT band/outside of the quad in particular. When the knee is in pain the culprit could simply be tight quad muscles. So work them out and see if this relieves any knee pain. If not, then you need to step your game up. I know I said the solutions were fairly inexpensive but when rolling just doesn’t get the job done, take a car polisher or some type of graston/scraping tool, flex the knee and apply as much pressure while massaging to the outside of the knee (as seen above) as you can stand. It only needs to be a few minutes and may hurt a bit but it gets the job done.
3. Work The Hamstrings
This one may come as a shock to some and the last place others bother to look in regards to knee pain. Remember when I talked about muscles being a system of checks and balances? Well the four muscles of the quads and the three muscles of the hamstrings do that for the knee joint. If you are having some knee tightness after training try doing some light hamstring work to get them engage and take some stress off the knee joint. Something as simple as light kettle bell swings, single leg toe touches with dumbbells or body weight, or glute ham raises after training can help alleviate knee pain. If I am feeling the slightest bit of knee pain after training I do some single leg toe touches to get the hamstrings engaged and it will at least help with any tightness or pain in the knee until I can do some work on it at home. Also consider using any of the methods mentioned in the #2 point above on the hamstrings.
So there you have it. For minor knee pain that arises at the end of training, try one of these three methods on it shortly after to see if you can get some or all of the discomfort to subside. Remember that these solutions are for minor and temporary pain issues related to the knee. If you have a severe or persistent issues with your knee, please seek a professional opinion on solutions. Rest and relaxation can also do wonders, but the chances of that are slim these day so give one of these methods a shot and give us your feedback if you have any others that work!