Jun 27th, 2010
Last week I talked about muscle tightness and/or pain you may be having in your body. I did get a few questions about this, so I thought that it would be helpful to review the prehab/rehab plan for those of you with nagging soreness in your knees or IT band. (Note: this plan does not treat meniscus or ligament tears.)
This plan is simple and should take no more that 20 minutes a day. Spend 10 minutes using the foam roller or ball on your lower body. Spend the next 10 minutes stretching out the muscles you have just rolled. Throughout the day, stretch your calves and quads–at least 3 times, even if it is only for 30 seconds each.
In January, I posted two great videos on foam rolling your lower body. Watch them and then foam roll all of the areas covered in these videos. Then do the following stretches. After doing this routine for a few weeks, add in exercises that will strengthen the weakness that may be leading to your pain (if your knees move inwards when you are squatting, you need to strengthen your adductor muscles; if your weight moves towards your toes when you squat, you need to stretch the quads and calves and strengthen the glutes).
Here is a series of stretches for your lower body:
Kneel in front of a wall. Lift one leg so that the knee is pressed against the wall. The lower leg should be parallel with the wall. Bring the other foot in between your hands so that it is flat onto the ground. If you are feeling a lot of stretch in the front of the thigh (of the leg that is on the wall), move the back knee away from the wall (as Daniel has). Then take your hands off the ground and bring your torso up so that it is also parallel with the wall. Hold 30 seconds and switch sides.
Lying on the ground, cross your knees (not your ankles!) and pull your knees to your chest. Take a hold of your ankles and pull your ankles towards you (your right hand will be holding your left ankle and your left hand will hold your right ankle). Hold one minute and then switch the cross of your legs.
Lie on the ground just far enough away from a wall so that your knees are bent at a right angle when you put your feet on the wall. Without lifting or twisting your hips, place your right foot on your left knee. Press your right knee toward the wall. Hold 30 seconds and switch sides.
IT band stretch:
Lying supine, place a strap around your foot and pull your leg across your body. Do not try to pull the foot closer to your head; focus instead on pulling the leg across the body and nailing both hips to the ground. Hold for one minute and then switch legs.
Hip flexor stretch:
In a lunge position with your front knee directly over your front heel, draw your hips under and push them forward slightly so that you feel a stretch in the hip flexors of the back leg. Extend your arms towards the ceiling. Hold this for 15 seconds, then lean the arms sideways away from your back leg. Keep pressing your hips forward. Hold this part for 15 seconds and then switch sides.
Stand a few feet away from a wall. Step your right foot towards the wall so that the ball of your foot is on the wall and your heel is on the ground. Your left knee iwll have to bend a little. Reach your hands towards the wall for balance. Bend your left knee a little more, and level your hips. Hold 30-60 seconds, then switch sides.