Tightness in the knee is sometimes referred to as “runner’s knee,” although it does not only happen to runners. This condition causes pain around or behind the kneecap, and can feel worse when walking or running downhill or descending stairs; you may even hear a crunching or clicking sound when you bend or extend your knee. There are several exercises you can do on a daily basis to remedy the problem.
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Tightness in the knee does not usually originate in the knee itself. In fact, it is likely that the problem is due to your feet and thighs, as they may not be in proper alignment while you are moving. Since the knee moves in a narrow groove in your thigh bone, when your legs and feet work efficiently, your knee moves smoothly with every step. When the kneecap is out of alignment due to weak thigh muscles or lack of foot support, the cartilage around the knee can become worn over time and cause tightness or pain. Another cause is unstable feet making movements that cause overpronating, or rolling the foot in, or supinating, or rolling the foot outwards.
Straight Leg Lifts
Knee tightness typically results in pain around, beneath or in the front of the kneecap. Straight leg lifts strengthen the muscles that help support the knee, but without putting stress underneath the kneecap. Perform leg lifts by lying flat on the floor and holding one leg up as straight as possible while the other leg is slightly bent on the floor. Hold this pose for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg. Repeat this exercise 10 times with each leg. This exercise strengthens the quadriceps muscles and engages the muscles to support the knee.
Since the quadriceps muscle assists in lifting your knees, perform quadriceps stretches to avoid or relieve stiffness. Tightness in the quadriceps and knees can make it difficult for you to lift your feet off the ground. Perform a quadriceps stretch by standing straight and holding on to a stationary object for balance with one hand, while using the other hand to hold on to the leg around the ankle and lifting it toward your buttocks. Remember to keep your back straight, and avoid letting your knee gravitate forward.
Static Inner Quadriceps Contraction
Stretching is vital to keep the knees loose and strong in order to avoid injury. PhysioAdvisor.com recommends a basic knee strengthening exercise called the static inner quadriceps contraction. Perform this exercise by sitting flat on a table with a towel under your knee and tightening the quadriceps by pushing your knee down into the towel. Put your fingers on your inner quadriceps to feel the muscle tighten during contraction. Hold this position for five seconds, and repeat 10 times as hard as you can before you feel pain. Gradually increase the repetitions and strength of contraction as you gain strength.