Hi, I’m Dr. Molly, with Your Goals Physical Therapy. Are you not doing your squats because the inside of your knee bothers you while you're doing them? You're not alone. I'm sure that you've tried doing stretches for the front of your thigh. You've tried stretching the back of your legs, but did you think maybe your calves need to be stretched? I know personally that I've totally forgotten all about my calves. My calves never hurt so I don't ever think about them. In fact, I went to get a massage one day and it was nice until the lady that was doing my massage went like this to my calf. (motion moving from my heel to my knee). As she did that I stood straight up, which was hugely embarrassing at the time. But we found out that apparently my calves were tight.
So I know that people often forget to stretch their calves. And often people are confused on how to stretch them. In a few minutes, I'm going to show you how to stretch them without having to do a whole lot of thinking.
But First let's talk about how a tight calf muscle can cause pain while you're squatting. If you don't have enough flexibility in your ankle then your foot will naturally turn out. You get to avoid that range of motion altogether while walking. And that is the same flexibility that is required while squatting. For proper squat mechanics your knee is supposed to follow over your foot. But again, it's that same amount of flexibility that you need when you're walking. And so the same thing happens, your foot turns out compared to where your knee tracks, to work around the limited calf muscle length. Moving your knee either to the right or left of your foot gives you the flexibility to go into the squat; Unfortunately, when your knee is not tracking over your foot it puts stress on the sides of your knee.
Now you probably (might) only notice pain while you're squatting, because a lot of people use weights when they squats during their workouts.
What you don’t think about is that your knee is becoming irritated every time you go up and down the stairs. This same irritation happens every time you get up and down from your car seat or your work chair or really anything else. Because we sit down and stand up a lot and that same mechanism of squatting is what you use all day.
So now here's the trick to stretching your calf without thinking about the position of your foot. Lets u use a foam roller...You're still gonna be able to get a good calf stretch.
If you sit on the floor and start with the foam roller kind of high on your calf; you can just sort of walk yourself back and forth on the roller. By using one leg to press down on the floor at the same time you roll the other leg on the foam roller it lets you get a good stretch without having to hold your body with your arms. You can kind of walk yourself up and down your calf. Now if you are brave and you want to put all your weight on both your legs you can lift yourself up with your arms and roll back and forth. you can slide flakes.
And the other nice thing about using the foam roller is that if you change the position of your foot (i.e. turning your toe from being straight up to the right or the left) allows you to stretch the inside and outside of your calf. You might find that one part of your calf is dramatically tighter than another.
That is how a tight calf could be making the middle side of your knee hurt while squatting. I hope that information helps.
If you are looking for ways to start helping your knee while at home check out my Free EBOOK “"10 Tips And Tricks To Stop Knee Pain From Derailing Your Fitness Goals! (No Brace, Medication, or Surgery required)"
If this is the type of care that you are interested in but you would like to talk to someone about your specific needs first please click this link to set up a phone appointment.
WE HELP ACTIVE ADULTS OVERCOME THEIR ACHES AND PAINS TO GET THEM BACK TO THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES WITHOUT MEDICATION, INJECTIONS OR SURGERIES.
Dr. Molly McDonald