I went to see a physical therapist, to evaluate my knee and get some tips for making it better, and to receive some advice on when I should go running again. After an initial evaluation, I was told that I basically have slight tendonitis in the patella (kneecap), where my quads attach, and stretching will help, as well as strengthening exercises. She prescribed the following stretches and strengthening exercises (for both legs, to keep them evenly worked out). These exercises are intended to strengthen the quads to the point where they can handle the amount of running I’m throwing at them.
Your hamstring muscle runs along the back of your upper leg. To stretch your hamstring muscles:
- Lie on the floor near the outer corner of a wall or a door frame.
- Raise your left leg and rest your left heel against the wall. Keep your left knee slightly bent.
- Gently straighten your left leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your left thigh.
- Hold for about 20 seconds.
- Switch legs and repeat.
- As your flexibility increases, maximize the stretch by gradually scooting yourself closer to the wall or door frame.
- Repeat this for each leg 3 times.
Iliotibial Band Stretch
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a band of tissue that runs along the outside of your hip, thigh and knee. To stretch your ITB:
- Stand near a wall or a piece of sturdy exercise equipment for support.
- Cross your left leg over your right leg at the ankle.
- Extend your left arm overhead, reaching toward your right side. You’ll feel a stretch along your left hip.
- Hold for about 20 seconds.
- Switch sides and repeat.
- Do each leg 3 times.
Wall Stretch (Weight bearing Gastrocnemius and soleus muscles)
This stretch primarily addresses tension and lack of range of motion in the gastrocnemius muscle (outer calf), soleus muscle (inner calf), achilles tendon, posterior tibial tendon and the plantar fascia.
- This stretch is best performed in a doorway, although any other flat surface will work. Always perform this stretch while wearing supportive footwear.
- Stand in the doorway, arms’ length away. Place one forefoot up against the door jam with the heel seated firmly on the floor.
- Grab the door fame at waist level and pull your hip toward the door frame. Tension should develop anywhere from the back of the knee down through the calf, achilles, heel and into the long arch.
- Hold for 20 seconds
- repeat for each leg, 3 times.
Lying Quad Stretch
- Lie on the edge of a table or bed.
- let one half of your body lean off
- While holding on to something to keep you on the table/bed, grab the ankle of the leg hanging off (or use a band to pull it).
- Allow a deep stretch to happen, while pulling the ankle towards the butt.
I was also prescribed some preliminary strengthening exercises (isometrics).
Short Arc Quads.
- Place a towel roll under your knee.
- Kick your leg up working to straighten the knee.
- Complete 2 sets of 10 reps each leg.
Straight Leg Raise (Flexion)
- Tighten your thigh. Once you have the thigh muscle tight, raise the entire leg so your foot raises 10 inches.
- Lower the leg and relax the thigh muscle. It is important to relax the thigh between repetitions so that you get good at illuming your thigh muscle on and off .
- Complete 2 sets of 10 reps, each leg.
In the images above, the exercise I’m doing is the bottom example.
- Hold your trunk tight and keep your back straight
- Lie on your side and support your head
- Cross your top leg in front of you
- Keep your bottom leg straight
- Raise your bottom leg so your foot is level with (or slightly higher than) the opposite hip
- Lower the leg so your foot touches the floor
Quad sets (with Flexion)
- Sit with a rolled hand towel under the knee
- exert as much force as you can downward with the knee onto the towel.
- Repeat 2 sets of 10 repetitions, holding each for 3 seconds, for each leg.
If you feel like getting into running, these are some great stretches and exercises to prepare your muscles and ligaments for the task. I wish I had a list of these when I started.
Enjoy, and happy running!