Knee pain is a common ailment. Although the causes can vary, treatment often involves the same measures. In particular, strengthening and stretching the glutes are often effective at helping relieve knee pain. The three gluteal muscles -- gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus -- specifically the latter two, are often at least partially responsible for an unbalanced hip-to-knee rhythm and in turn knee pain. By stretching these muscles, you can see an improvement.
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Sit and Rotate
The seated hip internal rotator stretch targets the gluteus medius muscles, making it an integral exercise to include in your routine. Start in a seated position on the floor, back straight, legs extended straight out in front of you with your toes pointed up. Cross your right leg over your left, so your right calf is perpendicular to your torso. Place your right hand on your right knee and push it slowly down toward the floor until you feel a light stretch in your buttocks and hip. Release, then repeat on the other side.
Bend Like a Pretzel
The pretzel stretch is one of the most effective glute-stretching exercises, and it can help relieve your knee pain. Lie flat on your back on the floor, crossing your right leg over the other so your right foot rests on your left knee. Grab onto the back of your left thigh and raise your left leg a few inches off the floor, keeping your torso flat against the floor during the movement. As you pull your legs up toward your chest, you should feel a bit of tension in your buttocks. Hold, then release.
Squat to Stretch the Glutes
The squatting iliotibial stretch is an effective glute stretch, one that is well worth including in your stretching routine. Stand with your feet together with your right side facing a wall, just a foot or so away from the wall. Place your right hand flat against the wall and rest your left hand on your left hip. Bend your left leg slightly, crossing your right leg behind you with your foot flat, so it rests about a foot's length to the left of your left foot. Hold, then repeat on the other side.
The Lying Crossover
To stretch the glutes, specifically the gluteus medius muscles, try the lying crossover stretch. Lie on your back on the floor, arms extended to the sides, legs extended down. Lift your left leg straight up in the air, then swing it over to the right side, crossing it over your right leg so it's perpendicular to your right arm. Hold, then repeat with your other leg.
Tips for Stretching
You can have all the right stretches, but if you're not stretching properly, you're not going to get the results you're after. Always hold each stretch for 30 seconds. If you don't hold a stretch long enough, you're not allowing your muscle fibers time to lengthen, while holding too long can result in injury.
When to Seek Medical Help
If your pain persists or worsens, seek medical attention immediately. During any stretching exercise, you should always only feel a light stretching in the area and never any pain. Consult with your doctor before getting started with any new exercise plan, even if it only involves moderate stretching exercises.