Your knee is the largest joint in your body, so no wonder you want to protect it. A little knee pain goes a long way in sidelining you from being active. Stretching increases your flexibility and loosens tight muscles, which can help you avoid a knee injury, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your knee is commonly divided into four quadrants: medial, lateral, anterior and posterior. Your inner knee is the medial quadrant.
Several muscles, ligaments and tendons work together to help you bend and straighten your knee. Major contributing muscles include your quadriceps and hamstrings. On the inner part of your knee, your main ligament is your medial collateral ligament, which connects your femur to your tibia along the inside of your knee. It keeps the inner part of your knee stable and controls the sideward motion of your knee.
Your quadriceps muscle has four heads; the vastus medialis head connects to the inner part of your knee. When your knee is completely flexed, you stretch this part of your quadriceps to its maximum length. Try a side lying quadriceps stretch to target your inner knee. Begin by lying on your right side with your legs extended straight away from your body. Rest your head on your right arm. Stack your hips and shoulders so they align vertically with the floor. Bend your left knee to bring your foot toward your left hip. Grasp your foot or ankle with your left hand. Gently pull your foot toward your tailbone. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds, then straighten your leg. Repeat two to five times and then repeat on the opposite side.
Similar to your quadriceps, your hamstring has four heads. The specific portions that you want to stretch to target your inner knee are the semimembranosus and the semitendinosus. Stretches that target this area are the V-sit reach, standing toe-pointed hamstring stretch and standing leg-up hamstring stretch. To do the standing leg-up hamstring stretch, grab a chair and place the heel of your right foot into the seat. Keep your right leg straight and point your toes straight up. Lean forward while keeping your back straight and reach both your hands toward your right toes. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on your left leg.
While stretching comes with a variety of benefits, it also comes with its own risk. Never stretch cold muscles; this can lead to injury. Always warm up with light walking or jogging before you stretch, or stretch after your workout. Don’t bounce during your stretch; this can cause small tears in your muscles. When stretching, you want to feel tension but you shouldn’t feel pain. If it hurts, back off.
- Kidshealth.org: Knee Injuries
- Yoga Journal: Keep the Knees Healthy in Virasana
- Human Kinetics: Muscular Stabilization Exercises for the Knee
- American Council on Exercise: Side Lying Quadriceps Stretch
- Harmony Medical: Stretches for the Hamstrings
- Mayo Clinic: Knee Pain: Prevention
- Mayo Clinic: Stretching: Focus on Flexibility
- Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images