The knee is designed so that the knee cap, or patella, moves within the groove of the femur bone of the upper thigh. When the patella does not track properly, it creates pain in the front of the knee, making it difficult to climb stairs and stand from a sitting position. This is usually due to a muscular imbalance in the quadricep muscles in the front of the thigh.
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Strengthen the Vastus Medialis
The quadricep is a group of four muscles that make up the front of the thigh. When the muscle on the outside of the thigh is stronger than the one on the inside, it will cause the patella to be pulled to the outside and rub against the thigh bone. Strengthening the inside muscle, called the vastus medialis, will help balance out these muscles. Stand with your feet hip width apart and a slight bend in your knee. Wrap an elastic exercise band around the back of your knee and secure it in front of your leg. Straighten your knee by pulling back against the band, hold for two to three seconds and relax back to start position. Perform 25 repetitions three times per week to strengthen the vastus medialis.
Stretch Iliotibial band
The iliotibial band is located on the side of the thigh from the hip to below the knee. Stretching this muscle will help take the load off of the vastus medialis and restore balance around the patella. Cross one leg over the other with your painful knee in the back. Bend from the waist and reach toward the toes of your back foot. You should feel a stretch in the outer part of the thigh of the back leg. Hold for 10 seconds and release.
The muscles of the inner thigh are also found to be weak when the tracking of the knee is off. Strengthening these muscles is helpful in balancing the muscles of the thigh. Sit on a bench or chair and place a medium size rubber ball between your legs. Pull your legs together and squeeze the ball holding for five to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times three times per week.