Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums Knee Couch stretch & knee pain

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    • #70198
      AvatarDaniel Pollard

      When doing the couch stretch (I try to keep my shin as vertical as possible, as KStarr shows in his videos), I get a very sharp pain on the lateral side of my patella.  The pain last for at least 10-15 minutes after the stretch.  The only way I’ve found to eliminate the pain is by moving my knee forward, meaning that my shins are closer to a 45 degree angle.  I’ve experimented by moving my knee back little by little, and the pain occurs well before my shins reach vertical.

      For a little background, I do have a history of knee and hip pain (PFPS and greater trochanter bursistis) from my time in the military.  I’ve been dealing with that (with no treatment since 2003) for the past 16 years.  No treatment from the military docs or from the VA has helped.  So, I’ve been trying to incorporate the MWODs in the hope that they will finally resolve my issues.
      Any ideas or tips?
    • #71971
      AvatarJohn Gribbin

      Have you tried really smashing out the quad slowly, side-to-side? I was getting a pulling sensation in my left knee on the couch stretch until I buckled down and tried to work on my soft tissue. Turns out I had a big “lump” of quad meat stuck together; after I broke that up I no longer felt pulling in my knee.

    • #71972
      AvatarDaniel Pollard

      I’ve rolled both quads, just not right before the couch stretch.  I’ll give it a try today. It just seems odd that I would feel the same pain in the same spot on both knees.  If it were a soft-tissue issue, it seems unlikely that it’d be the same thing on both quads.

    • #71976

      Have you looked at anything upstream/downstream of the knee?
      It could be tied to something with your hip mobility.
      It could be tied to something within your ankle mobility.
      You are seeing it at your knee, but that may not be where the actual cause it.
      It may present at your knee based on something you are doing at another place within the system to create slack within the system so you can get into the desired position/shape.
      Having the pain in the same pain in the same spot on both sides illustrates you are doing the same thing on both sides.

    • #71992
      AvatarDesmond Sng


      The couch stretch is a wonderful way to open up the quads (particularly the rectus femoris), but any action that increases tension in the quads also can also increase compression at the patellofemoral joint (the joint between the underside of your kneecap and the groove in the front of your femur. This is particularly true as the knee moves into deeper angles of flexion. Picture the patella being glued between the non-elastic strap of the patellar ligament (the ligament attaching your patella to your tibia) and the bulk of contractile muscle known as your quads. When the knee is relatively straight, tension added to the system is transfered from the quads to the patellar ligament via the patella fairly efficiently. With the knee flexed, however, this force is transmited around the curve of the anterior knee and much of it is converted to compressive force at the patellofemoral joint. This compressive force is compounded if you are resting the your knee on the ground (this can be alleivated somewhat with an airex pad, but is still not a good idea if you have active patellofemoral pain). While stretching the quads can be helpful with patellofemoral pain syndrome, high levels of compression at the joint surfaces will only serve to irritate your condition. I would reccomend that you avoid max tension at end range flexion, cut out kneeling postures, and spend more time on the foam roller. This will help to address the soft tissue with less loading on the joint. In addition, since your pain is along the lateral patella, you may have issues with lateral tracking (tracking problems involve the patella not moving correctly throught the groove in the front of the femur and excessive lateral tracking is actually quite common). While a Physical Therapist is the best one to analyse your joint mechanics, your coach or an observent friend can certainly help you to clean up any movement patterns that may be contributing (usually valgus collapse during squatting / jumping patterns). Releasing the lateral tissues including the IT bad can be helpful any may also be indicated with your history of trochanteric bursitis (dont’ roll right over the trochanter though!). Just remember, mashing a lacrosse ball into your soft tissue may be exquisitley painful, but these techniques should never create joint pain. If something hurts your joints, it is not right for you a this time. Address your other issues and then revisit it later to see if things have changed.

      Good Luck,

      Brian Bochette, PT, CSCS

    • #71994

      I had the EXACT same thing happen. And ironically enough, I was also in the military.

      What I gathered was that I was INSANELY tight…everywhere. You just have to keep doing hip, knee and ankle mobilitywods. Eventually it will loosen up so that you can do it with the shin vertical. I also had problems if I ever tried to sit back on my feet on the floor. I could never get all the way back, and if I tried, I would feel a similar pain that you describe.
      I know it’s not direct advice,but you should know that you’re on the right path. 
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