The undersurface of the kneecap has cartilage on it for a smooth glide, and it has a ridge that moves along the groove in your leg bone to keep it in the right place. Tightness along the side of your thigh, and/or weakness in your quad can cause the kneecap to go off its track and you’ll experience clicking, grinding noises, popping out of place, and pain. Learn how to regain control of its movements here!
To make sure the kneecap tracks properly, you’ve got to keep the outside of the leg flexible, particularly the ITB, and the inner quad muscles strong, namely the VMO. It’s a combination of those 2 key exercises that will set things straight. Also, when you squat, get up from a chair, or go up/down stairs, you’ll need to keep an eye on keeping both your knees and feet pointing forward and hip width apart.
Video Transcript: PFPS/Kneecap Tracking Issue/Chondromalacia Patella
I wish I had a nickel for every sigh of relief that I’ve seen after I tell my knee patients that they probably don’t have a meniscus tear, that they are likely suffering instead from a tracking issue of their kneecap. Patella femoral pain syndrome (PFPS) and chondromalacia patella are both issues that arise from kneecap tracking issues. The kneecap, medically refereed to as the patella, hovers within the quad tendon and glides up and down along a groove in your upper leg bone when you extend and flex your knee. If the quad muscle is weaker than it should be, and if the outer thigh muscle is tighter than it should be, then the kneecap will be out of it’s groove and rub against the bone and cause inflammation and pain, and often times you’ll also be experiencing popping, clicking, or the feeling of dislocation. It is a very common disorder, more so in women than men because of the width and angle of our hips in relation to the knee. And the good news is, is that it is totally preventable and fixable with some proper physical therapy. I’ll get you started today by teaching you a stretch for the most likely culprit, a too tight and overworked Iliotibial Band. Lay on your back and hook something like a belt or towel around your foot. Keep your leg straight and lift it up. At around 60 degrees turn your foot inward and then use your arms to pull your leg across your body. You should be feeling a stretch along your outer thigh possibly from your hip all the way down to your ankle, or at least someplace in between. This will loosen up the tendon that is pulling your kneecap out of its groove. I’m Josie, a physical therapist, and this hip stretch is a super important exercise to help with your kneecap tracking issue. VMO strengthening exercise however is a close second, and you’re gonna wanna hear about all the variations I’ll teach you in my full length PT session. We’ll go over just enough anatomy so that you can picture this groove that I’m talking about, I’ll have a friend with me to go over the exercises because form and technique will be very important with some of the exercises. And at the end there will be pictures that you can print out and an exercise check list to follow along with. Please, check out my full length PT session, I know these exercises will help you!