Patellar pain, or pain under the kneecap, is a painful condition that can be treated effectively with the right exercises. Get the best patella pain exercises you can do at home to eliminate your kneecap pain and start to feel better today. Demonstration of patellofemoral pain exercises presented by a physical therapist.
THE BEST EXERCISES FOR KNEECAP / PATELLOFEMORAL PAIN:
1. STRAIGHT LEG RAISES WITH QUAD CONTRACTED
2. STRAIGHT LEG RAISES WITH FOOT ROTATED OUT
3. SIDELYING HIP ABDUCTION
4. HIP HIKES
5. LATERAL BOX STEPS
6. REVERSE LUNGES
7. BAND WALKS FORWARD
8. BAND WALKS LATERAL
Keep reading below for video instruction on how these exercises should be performed!
Your knee is a joint that is made up of three bones – your femur, your tibia, and your patella (or kneecap). While we typically think of our knee “joint” as the spot where the femur and the tibia come together, there’s actually one more joint in the knee – that’s where the patella and the femur come together.
Believe it or not – this joint where the kneecap sits on top of the femur is one of the most-common sources of knee pain I treat in my physical therapy clinic.
Today I wanted to talk more about this patellar pain – what is it, why you get it, and then share about 8 simple exercises you can do at home to help it feel better.
WHAT IS THIS PAIN UNDER MY KNEECAP?
Pain that occurs under the lateral (outside) edge of your kneecap is a common orthopedic problem that affects many people.
Termed “patellofemoral pain syndrome”, this pain can hit while running, squatting, going up/down stairs, or even simply walking. Fortunately there’s a lot that physical therapy including stretching and strength exercises can do to help.
WHAT CAUSES PAIN UNDER MY KNEECAP?
Pain under your kneecap is typically caused by one of two problems – either your kneecap isn’t moving normally or the bones under your kneecap (femur and tibia) aren’t moving normally.
Your kneecap should sit squarely in a “groove” in your femur on top of your knee joint. As your knee flexes and extends, your kneecap moves up and down and should remain squarely in this groove.
Unfortunately, however, there are forces that influence our patella and can pull it slightly to one side.
Pain arises when the kneecap starts to ride on one side of the groove; this rubbing causes friction, inflammation, pain, and eventually a wearing away of the cartilage.
This is what we would call “patellofemoral pain” or “patellofemoral pain syndrome”.
It can be very painful and very limiting. Fortunately, there’s a lot that conservative care can do to help it!
CAN EXERCISES HELP PATELLOFEMORAL PAIN?
The answer is ABSOLUTELY!
The best exercises for patellofemoral pain are those that will improve the alignment of your patella during movement.
This is best accomplished by strengthening your quad muscle and your hip abductors.
The following exercises are ones that I recommend to my patients on a daily basis. They are easily performed at home and there’s no equipment required.
Perform these exercises everyday for the number of repetitions and sets recommended in this video and start to see improvement in your knee pain today!
EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR THIS WORKOUT:
Orthotic for knee pain: https://amzn.to/2MHOGta
Resistance “booty band” for hip exercises: https://amzn.to/2MGWEmp
(Time stamps below will take you directly to that exercise in the video)
1. ORTHOTICS (to prevent pronation, internal rotation, and adduction) (3:38)
Flat feet can be a major cause of lateral knee pain.
As your foot collapses, or “pronates”, it causes your tibia (lower leg bone) to twist inwards. This can cause your kneecap to ride in the wrong spot and cause pain under your kneecap.
This problem can be minimized with some good orthotics with arch support.
See this link for the orthotics I recommend: https://amzn.to/2MHOGta
2. STRAIGHT LEG RAISES WITH QUAD CONTRACTED (5:36)
Strengthening your quad muscle can help your kneecap stay where it needs to as your knee flexes and extends.
Remember to keep your quad locked out throughout this entire straight leg raise motion.
3. STRAIGHT LEG RAISES WITH FOOT ROTATED OUT (6:12)
You can bias the medial quad (vastus medialis) by externally rotating your foot (pointing it out) and performing a straight leg raise.
This will serve to pull your kneecap back to the middle where it belongs.
4. SIDELYING HIP ABDUCTION (7:00)
Strengthening your hip abductors will help to keep your femur in a better position during movement.
This is a safe, open-chain exercise that is well-tolerated by most people.
5. HIP HIKES (7:54)
Taking the sidling hip abduction exercise and making it weight-bearing.
Your hip has to work harder to push your body weight against gravity making this an effective way to strengthen your abductors.
6. LATERAL BOX STEPS (9:06)
Combining lateral motion with flexion and extension against a resistance (raising to a higher level).
These can be easily done on stairs or a weight bench to make them harder.
7. REVERSE LUNGES (10:08)
Work on lowering yourself slowly and in control into a lunge.
Your focus should be keeping your knee right over your toe (not letting it buckle inside or out) while not letting it get out in front of your toe, as demonstrated in the video.
8. BAND WALKS FORWARD (11:34)
Probably my favorite way to train the quads and hip abductors to work together.
Pick up your bands for this exercise and the next one right here: https://amzn.to/2MGWEmp
9. BAND WALKS LATERAL (13:10)
My final exercise to really roast your hip abductors.
Great way to strengthen your hips to pull your femur into a better alignment.
Bonus – also a great way to tone and strengthen your glutes!
And there you have them! 1 simple suggestion and 8 great exercises that will help you eliminate your patellofemoral pain. These are exercises I give to my patients on a daily basis and I know they will work for you, too!
Looking for more great workouts and exercises to treat your knee pain? Give these a try:
10 BEST STRETCHES AND EXERCISES FOR KNEE PAIN
LEG WORKOUT WITH KNEE PAIN
You might also be interested in some of these at-home workout to tone and strengthen your legs and hips:
As always – thanks so much for reading here on Tone and Tighten! And remember…
Make it happen,