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No pain...More gain: Foam rolling for knee pain

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

Knee complaints are a common concern that I see in my practice. Postural stress and hip instability can lead to excess stress being placed on the knees.

Using a foam roller on targeted areas can improve pain, flexibility, muscle recovery, relax overused muscles, and improve movement.

Foam Rolling is a form of (SMR) Self-myofascial release technique. This technique helps improve performance and soft tissue health.

Any part of the body can be overstressed causing muscles, fascia, and other tissues to move less than they should. Over time all of these fibers thicken and the cycle continues. However, the great news is that we can reduce or even eliminate the stiffness that has been created by incorporating foam roller exercises into your routine regularly. These areas will become less tender the more you use the roller. If a spot is too tender to stay relaxed on move to the next tender spot. The idea is long-term.

Introducing foam rolling into your practice-

1*At the Beginning of your workout before warming up work 1” per second to find any tender spots. Foam rolling is also a great recovery tool. Helping to increase blood flow to the muscles and reduce soreness.

2*When a tender spot is found, stop and hold pressure for 30 to 60 seconds. While maintaining pressure, concentrate on breathing and relaxing the muscle. This will help engage the parasympathetic system which encourages tissue relaxation, assisting in the maximum range of motion improvements.

3*Try to spend ~90 to 120 seconds on each muscle group. Start slowly and progress over time.

This routine is recommended for people whose knees tend to cave and/or turn in.


TFL- Place the roller on the ground then position your body so the roller is just below and outside, or back, from your hip bone. Move around slowly to find a tight spot and then hold on any tight spots.

If you find a tight spot, hold on that spot relaxing the muscle for 30-60sec.

As you seek out tight spots in your hip, move around front and right to the side under your hip bone. Again hold on any tight spots and even flex and relax your leg to help dig in.

You can work your way back out to the side of your hip, and even into your glutes as well, if you find any sore or tight spots. Remember to hold and breathe to release keep slowly rolling over the spot.


ADDUCTORS- Lay on your front with your forearms and your left leg supporting your body. Place your right leg across the foam roller, so it sits just below your groin on the inner thigh.

Engage your core muscles and slowly roll down the foam roller at a rate of 1 inch per second.

When you reach a tender spot, stop and hold for 30-60 seconds. Make sure you breathe to get oxygen to the muscle.

Keep the muscle relaxed and try to melt into the foam roller.

Continue this for the entire length of the inner thigh area until you reach the knee.


PERONEALS- In a side-lying position, engage your abs, place the foam roller directly underneath your thigh between your knee and ankle.

Support your upper body using your forearm and freehand. Adjust pressure into the roller with your free hand and foot.

Slowly roll down the length of the peroneals while slightly rotating the leg until you find tender spots and hold for 30-60 seconds until you reach the side of your ankle.

Repeat on the other side.

As with all things, consistency is key. Incorporating self-release soft tissue exercises like the foam roller into your daily routine will improve movement patterns, speed up recovery, and overall health and function.

*Remember, Any corrective exercise strategies must also include stability and strengthening work which address muscles that are not working as much as they should and condition the nervous system to react to the new movement patterns.

I build custom training programs and sports-specific programs for individuals and groups. As an endurance athlete myself I understand how critical proper fitness, recovery, and nutrition are which varies from person to person. Let me help you crush your goals while living life and feeling good!

Feel Stronger. Be Fitter. Live Better

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