help stretch thy knee and hammy?
May 22, 2012 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Need help stretching knee/hamstring? Tight knee is causing more and more pain in my leg (heel and rest of leg)... i'm fine once i warm up for a while, but need help stretching knee and my hammy

Background, i was a bit overweight about 3 years ago, tore my ACL playing soccer... During surgery, they tightened it too tight and couldn't get my leg all the way stretched out... they had to go in again and retie the reused patellae "ACL" and were able to get my leg almost straight... i had 6-9 months of physical therapy, but knee always had trouble getting straight...

Fast forward to now... i have lost a good bit of weight, but am having trouble getting my leg all the way straight... i ran 5 k two weeks ago and the next day my knee was uber tight and my heel hurt... since then, my knee has been just really tight... i have some softball games coming up and i just want some hints to help stretch it out...
What i have done:
used gravity (lying on bed with knee/leg relaxing over edge)
Stretched it out and put weights on knee to help straighten it..
standard hamstring stretch with bad over foot to assist stretch...

any other idears?
posted by fozzie33 to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a history of knee problems (dislocated patella and some major surgery to put my knee back together) and I've run a couple of marathons (many, many years after my knee surgery). When I first ramped up my running distances, my knee really hurt. Except, it wasn't actually my knee. It was my IT band.

This sounds like it could be an IT band issue to me. Do you have access to a foam roller?
It hurts, but it works. When your IT band gets too tight, it pulls on your knee and that's where the pain is located, even though it's not really a "knee issue".

Good luck.
posted by netsirk at 7:22 PM on May 22, 2012

Similarly to netsirk, I've had knee pain that was really quad pain. My PT had me to lunges to help keep things stretchy and loose, and it worked well. Google produces a plethora of other ideas/explanations (
posted by Gorgik at 8:09 PM on May 22, 2012

Rarely are knee problems actually problems in the knee; it's just, being the least error-tolerant joint in the leg, flawed motor patterns stemming from the foot and/or hip will manifest there first. Of course this only increases the scope of possible problems, which is why the best course of fixing the issue is a good physiotherapist who takes a holistic view of your posture and movement.

Don't be satisfied with symptomatic treatment: all too often doctors use surgery as a first resort (or rather second, after painkillers) rather than assess for basic, easily-correctable misalignments occurring up or down the kinetic chain. A good PT should be trained to spot these systemic problems, educate you in why it happened, and empower you with a logical means to fix it.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 8:23 PM on May 22, 2012

If it is an IT band issue (and my completely non-authoritative and totally uninformed opinion is that it is!), there is absolutely nothing better than a foam roller (as netsirk says above, but it bears repeating.)

It will make you want to vomit from pain (For realz), but it will work.

For a different version of the same type of naseauating (but effective!) joy, you can use a tennis ball in much the same way as you would a foam roller. Tennis balls localize your weight on a focus point (rather than dispersing it like a foam roller does), so they work better for spot work rather than generalized rolling......but you can improvise and make do.
Please note that the video linked above features a very odd soundtrack. I'd suggest watching it on mute. ;)
posted by Dorinda at 8:47 PM on May 22, 2012

Bear in mind the IT band is like the seam in your jeans, and is twice as tough. Rolling it up-and-down isn't terribly effective. Rather, rocking it back and forth on the roller inch-by-inch is far better at loosening it up to glide in the way required for it to function.

If rolling does temporarily reduce the discomfort, it supports the probability that the problem is rooted in some hip motor dysfunction, which ought to be correctable through PT.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:15 PM on May 22, 2012

Have you gone back to your surgeon? Because something doesn't sound right. If he or she isn't helpful, time for a second opinion. The answer is likely some change in PT and possibly a shoe insert rather than surgery but all we can do with what you've provided are make some bad guesses.
posted by karlos at 5:22 AM on May 23, 2012

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