If you are starting to experience any kind of discomfort in the knees, it’s a good idea to make sure that we are mobilizing the areas so that hopefully we can alleviate some of that pain.
By LeighAnn Clark
This could be you if you experience general knee pain while squatting or during high impact movements like running or star jumps. It is important to make sure that we incorporate mobility for this pain pre-and post- workout to ensure that we are ready to move and use proper form while training.
Any and all of your warm-ups should include SMR with lacrosse balls and foam rollers so you can target the spots that are tight, and try to work out any knots in the soft tissue. In particular, the focus should be on the calves, the quads, and especially the IT band when we are preparing for movement at the knee. Any calf or quad stretches that you particularly like can be incorporated as well.
Once these are complete, we want to focus on a technique called flexion gapping. This can be done in a few different ways, but the idea is the same. One way is to use a lacrosse ball. Sit on the ground and place it right behind the crook of the knee, then pull the leg in as tight as you can. The lacrosse ball acts as a wedge as you pull the knee to full flexion. In the position, you rotate the ankle clockwise and counterclockwise. The wedge acts to gap the joint of the knee and allows the attachment points of the surrounding soft tissue to loosen and lengthen some of the tissue that crosses over the knee cap.
If you don’t have a lacrosse ball handy, the same thing can be done with your ankle acting as the wedge instead. In this case, you would position yourself on the ground sitting on your foot. Cross the opposite leg over and tuck the ankle behind the crook of the knee. You then proceed to sit back a little and reset or oscillate the hips back and forth. The same gapping process takes place in this position as well.
The lacrosse ball technique can be used in the same sitting position, but make sure that you are prepared when you sit and apply pressure to the ball. In this position, you have a great deal of body weight that you can apply to stretch a little deeper, more so than the force you generate when pulling the leg in close. Make sure to maintain control of the pressure and sit as deep as you feel comfortable. Again, any of these techniques will be effective, it’s simply a matter of choosing what will work best for you.
Go ahead and give flexion gapping a shot, and check out the video for more info!