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Diana Remaley, LMT
Diana@RemaleyMassage.com
(203)292-5362
19 Compo Road South
Westport, CT

Stretching the Back of the Knee

Are you noticing a little tension when you flex your knees?

I often have clients come in with pain in their knees. The knee is a complicated joint; it's difficult to say with certainty that the pain experienced here is muscular and not joint-related. However, there is a stretch we an perform [GENTLY!] to try to release some tension in the area. If pain persists after this stretch and some massages, it's likely time to see your sports doctor.

Anatomy Lesson:

The knee is composed of a number of muscles and tendons, but for our purposes, we'll focus on a few of them: Gastrocnemius and Plantaris (which are part of our "calf" muscles), Biceps Femoris, Semimembranosus, Semitendonosus, Sartorius and Gracilis (which are part of our "hamstring" muscles). These muscles meet at the knee and form the meaty part of the back of our knees, the part you can grab on to on either side when you bend your knee.

Since these muscles are behind the knee, in order to stretch them, we want to straighten the knee. However, "locking" the knee, as we call it, is actually hyperextending the joint; that is, pushing it too far beyond it's normal range of motion. So this stretch cannot occur when we are standing. We also want to avoid hyperextension even when we're sitting, so this stretch is one we perform by pushing against ourselves.

The Stretch:

Sitting comfortably, on a soft surface, raise one leg. Lean forward to comfortably hold the bottom of that foot on the pinky toe side. If you find this stresses your lower back, you can roll backward on to your back and raise your leg straight up above yourself.

Gently and slowly push your foot away from your body, while still holding it. Your hand is keeping your foot from actually moving, yet your muscles are activating to try to push the knee straight. This avoids hyperextension but still activates the correct muscles. You'll have to bend forward in order keep holding your foot as you straighten the leg. Don't let any stress develop in your lower back. If you feel pain while straightening, back off and bend the leg back to neutral.

You only need to hold this stretch for about 10 seconds; any longer and you're putting a bit of strain on the tendons and ligaments. Move really slowly and deliberately, and if you notice any pain, back off.

This is a good stretch to perform after a workout; it should serve to calm down both the calf and hamstring muscles. Just take it very slowly and gently!

Of course, this will only stretch a small portion of these muscles. If you're noticing tension still hanging around, it's probably time to book a massage therapy session. We can run through more stretches and techniques together to try to get you back to 100%. I'll see you in my Westport office!



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Diana Remaley, LMT
Diana@RemaleyMassage.com
(203)292-5362
19 Compo Road South
Westport, CT