Foam Rolling for Knee Pain

Foam Rolling for Knee Pain

Foam Rolling For Anterior Knee Pain

Knee pain is one of the most common sites of pain in active individuals, and can be caused by multiple things. There are ligaments, tendons, bursa, menisci and cartilage; which can be irritated, pulled, strained or torn depending on the mechanism of injury. 

But, for the purposes of this blog we will assume you have mild to moderate knee pain with no major traumatic onset and no swelling, giving way or locking. If you do have any of those symptoms, stop reading, step away from your foam roller and go and speak to a medical professional to get a clear diagnosis. 

One of the most frequent areas of knee pain in active people is pain around the knee cap. The pain can feel like it’s coming from above, below or to the side of the the knee cap. It can even come from behind the patella. Anterior knee pain can often develop as a result of an over use injury and can be aggravated in activities involving a lot of running or jumping.  

Anterior Knee Pain

Pain around the patella (knee cap) can be caused by a few different mechanisms but often very tight quadricep muscles can be a contributing factor. As you can see on the image, the quadricep tendons attach and envelop the patella then go on to form the Patella Ligament/Tendon. 

Image showing the knee joint and the anatomical features.

When the the quadricep muscles are tight they can increase tension through their tendons around the knee cap making them prone to becoming inflamed and sore. Tight quads can also effect the movement of the patella so it does not flow smoothly in conjunction with the boney grooves and ridges behind it when we are walking, running or cycling. Poor patella tracking can lead to increased friction, inflammation and ligament irritation around the front of the knee.  

Using the manta foam roller on the these muscles can help relive some of the natural tension of the tendons at the front of the knee and help to improve patella tracking, reducing the risk of injury. 

Foam rolling the quadriceps has also been proven to increase joint range of movement at the knee allowing for improved performance in running and cycling.

A women in a gym foam rolling the quadricep muscles located at the front of the thigh

Areas to Foam Roll for General Knee Aches and Pains

  1. As we’ve discussed, definitely foam roll the quadricep muscle group at the front of the thigh. Slow and deep making sure you get all the muscles fibres by changing the direction your foot is pointing to get the outer and inner muscles. 
  2. Gluteal muscles aka your butt. Strong and flexible glutes are really important for knee stability. Use the central prongs to release the deep piriformis muscle. 
  3. Hamstring muscles are the muscles at the back of the thigh and insert behind the knee. Foam rolling these muscles can reduce the muscle tension and risk of injury. 
  4. Adductor muscles. These are located on the inner thigh going from your groin to the inside of the knee. 

Things to Think About

  • When foam rolling around the knee avoid foam rolling directly on the knee joint.
  • Start gently with both legs in the out groove of the manta roller and progress to using the central prongs on one leg at a time.
  • Consider your form! Whether you’re working out in the gym or running track and field, technique always matters. Good form can go a long way to preventing over use injuries.
  • If you have been diagnosed with patella tendinopathy then foam rolling will only be part of the recovery program, as exercises to strengthen the tendon and knee stability will also be necessary. 



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