- Do you love to run, cycle, or hike, but often get sore knees afterwards?
- Do you get pain when going up and down stairs in your knees?
- Is it hard for you to get up and down from the floor because you feel too stiff, or your knees are hurting?
- Do you find it hard to get into a deep squat position because your hips are too tight?
This is a perfect routine for you to do daily!
Today I bring you the exact stretching and rolling routine I do almost daily to promote healthy knees! Tight quads and hips are my nemesis, and it means I work on these stretches daily, as well as before and after physical activity to prevent my knees from getting sore or swelling up.
To Start: Start out by giving some of your major muscle groups a nice roll out using your Yoga Tune up Ball. Yoga Tune up Balls are by far the one and only ball I recommend for effective self myofascial release. The balls were designed for this purpose, unlike a tennis or lacrosse ball which were designed for sports! The yoga balls are the perfect density to create a deep and effective release to the muscles, as well as they grip and move the skin around nicely, promoting further effects that you don’t get with a tennis ball. If you need to buy a pair I recommend starting with the Therapy Ball Plus set in a tote: Follow this LINK to order them from my referral site with Yoga Tune up. The therapy ball plus set is the perfect size to get into both big and small muscle groups. The alpha ball is the one you will see me using in the videos, as I prefer this one for use on my larger lower body muscle groups. The smallest size yoga balls are good for release neck, chest, and upper back muscles, as well as feet.
- I know the Electra Health Floor on Burrard in Vancouver sells the smallest size, yet this is the only location I know in Vancouver that sells this specific brand.
Next- It’s time to roll 🙂
To start the stretching and rolling routine, I prefer to start with the fascia release, to get my body ready for a good stretch.
I like to apply a 7/10 pressure onto each muscle, this way I am not at risk of damaging anything, but I know I am applying enough pressure to actually create a change in the fascia tissue.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1bFRZ1d5CU. Watch the video, then read the text, then try the rolling.
When we refer to the ‘quad’ we are talking about the Vastus Laterialis (blue), Rectus Femoris (yellow), Vastus Medialis (red), and the Vastus Intermedius (not shown as it is deep to the other muscles). The various techniques I show in the video are much more effective then simply rolling up and down along the muscle (which is done most traditionally in gyms), and will ensure we loosen up all aspects, and all muscles, of the quadriceps.
- Putting the ball up near the top of the Vastus Lateralis (close to the hip, and more towards the outside of the leg) and allowing your full body weight to sink down and over the ball (it’s not moving though). Try to let all the tension leave your leg. Take 5 deep breaths here. Slowly choose about 8-10 different spots along the width and length of the leg to relax and breathe into. By choosing 8 spots you should hit up the full length of the Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, and Vastus Medialis.
- Next, drag the ball side to side along the quad muscle, and slowly make your way up and down the leg. The slower you move the better. Try and stay relaxed (which can be hard when the you can feel the ball travelling across your leg muscles, and sometimes they feel like tight ropes!).
- Next, drag the ball up and down the length of the quad muscle. Start with the outside of the leg (Vastus Lateralis) and slowly go all the way from the hip to the knee. Do the same for the inside (Rectus Femoris) and the middle (Vastus Medialis). You will see me propping myself up on my other side on a bent knee, this is taking some of the pressure off the rolling leg.
After about 5-10 minutes on each leg your legs should feel wonderful!
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03TsxcLU2JM. Watch the video, then read the text, then try the rolling exercises.
- Start by rolling the ball around in circles around the Gluteus Maximus X 10 rolls
- Next, spend some time rolling into the side glute muscles (Piriformis and Glute Minimus)- if these are too tight you can do this up against a wall.
- Finally, lay on your side and roll side to side over your side hip. Remember- stay off the bone! You will be rolling just below your hip bone, and will be hitting the Glute Medius, the top part of your IT band, and as you come into the front you will start to hit your Tensor Fascia Latae.
As you can see below, there are MANY muscles the make up the lower leg. The primary muscles we will aim to target are the Gastrocnemius (middle photo, they have cut off the muscle, but just have shown where the muscle atttaches), as well as the Soleus, which is deep to the Gastroc. The Gastrocnemius is your main calf muscle that is visible from the back of the leg. We will also be working on the front of the lower leg, and the main muscle we will be releasing is the Tibialis Anterior.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4E5YOwqkH0. You might want to watch the video first, then read the text, then come back again to the video and try it yourself
- First ensure that the lower leg you are rolling is placed fully on the floor in a perpendicular position to your body (the knee should not be lifted off), as shown in the video. The inside of your lower leg is the part of your leg facing up, and the part we will dig into first.
- Then begin to draw the ball up and down along the line where your shin bone meets the muscle, you are working on the medial aspect of your Solues here. You will know you have hit the right spot because you will feel it!
- Also spend some time in the ‘meaty’ part of the muscle belly, near the top of the lower leg. This is part of your gastroc. You see me doing this in the video after rolling up and down along the shin bone.
- Then, Drag the ball all the way down close to the ankle, and spend some time digging around down here, close to the achilles.
- Finally- you can come up onto all fours and drag the ball along your Tibialis Anterior and Peroneous muscles, by dragging the ball along the lateral aspect of your shin bone. I spend a lot of time here in the video, especially up close to the knee as this is a tender spot for me!
Now onto the Stretches!
#1: This is my number one stretch for getting the major hip flexors & Rectus Femoris on one leg, while stretching out the glutes of the other leg. I am using my couch to do the stretch today, but I often use the bench at the gym.
Next, to make the stretch deeper:
#1: Reach back and grab the ankle of your back leg.
#2: Gently squeeze your glutes and press them forward towards the couch.
The final stretch is the #1 stretch I recommend, especially for runners!:
A stretch for the outside hip/IT band/outer hamstring and lateral aspect of the lower leg.
First- watch the video, then read the text, then try it:
Video link: https://youtu.be/WIvUR-XKcyM
- Start with your leg straight up in the air, slight bend in your knee. Use any strap you have handy to hold your leg up there.
- After about 10 deep breaths here start to draw your leg across your body. It should only move a few inches, and your hip bones should stay evenly weighted on the floor. 10 breaths here.
- Next- Drop that leg all the way across your body, trying to keep it as straight as you can, and open your other arm into a torso twist.
- This is a major stretch for me, and super effective!
- Do these as a warm up and cool down after your running, cycling, and hiking to prevent hip and knee issues.
- Do these daily to work on your hip mobility to prevent knee, and lower back problems.
- Ensure you are breathing and relaxing into each stretch and rolling position.
- Most of all- Enjoy! I hope it all feels great afterwards.