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The Go-To Exercise for an Angry Knee


January 189, 2024

Here in my Montross practice, there are two sorts of problems we largely specialize in. The first is spinal pain and the other is knee pain. Knee pain in particular can be a very scary sort of problem.

A great example of that is a client I saw in the practice a few weeks ago. She was in town only for two days visiting a few family members, heard that we specialize in knee problems, and stopped by to get some help before she got home to Northern Virginia.

She was walking up the steps and suddenly had excruciating pain from stepping the wrong way while coming up to her bedroom. She was extremely nervous about the entire situation. When speaking with her, she was worried she might have torn a ligament, broken a bone, or would even require some sort of knee surgery. Her entire trip was ruined, and she was stuck to the couch.

I was able to look at her knee, and the good news was that no bone was broken. And better yet no irreversible damage was done! But I did give her a great exercise along with other tools to help cut down the pain intensity of the knee and allow her to get back to enjoying time with her family outdoors; even allowing her to tolerate the drive home.

One of the movements I prescribed was a “self-traction” exercise. It’s a terrific exercise that requires another person to help but can be used at home. Not just that but for recent, high-level knee pain it can be extremely effective at helping build back up your activity levels and cut down pain.

To do this traction for the knee, you must first sit on a firm tall chair. Next, you need to roll up a towel a few times to get it fairly thick. You want to place that roll under your thigh at the knee crease.

Once you have that setup, it's important to place both hands on the armrest or surface you sitting on to provide some support. And then you have a family member or friend grab with both hands above the ankle.

Next, they pull down with very little pressure. If theirs no pain with that then they give minimal to moderate pulling pressure down and hold this position for 1 minute. This exercise should produce no large increase in pain. If so you need to discontinue it.

This movement is done every 2 hours and when paired with other treatments can help many folks get over those initially high levels of knee pain, and more importantly, get back to their normal active lifestyle.

An important point to make though is that if your pain is extremely high, you cannot bear any weight to stand on it, it's constant, its worsening, there was some sort of traumatic event involved, and it doesn’t improve in swelling/pain over a few days then you should get it checked out by a provider.

That’s it for today, everyone, remember movement is medicine!

P.S. If your knee ache and stiffness have frustrated you to the max, and you are concerned it may become worse. Call us today at (804) 493-3256 to get your free 15-minute phone consultation with our knee pain experts. We can give you a great idea of what's likely causing your problem and strategies that will help you get off the pills and back to exercise again!