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Can Active Release Techniques Help With Knee Pain?

Updated: Oct 11


The knee is a modified hinge joint that has three components feeding into it, and it is the largest joint in the body that controls the two largest bones in the body. It is prone to injury because the articulating ends of the femur and tibia don't form a particularly deep ball and socket joint. Because of this, and the amount of weight that the knee bears and its constant use, it is surprisingly easy to injure it. For some forms of knee injury, Active Release Techniques can help to relieve pain and restore function.


What causes knee pain?

There are multiple elements to the knee joint, including the bony elements such as the femur, tibia, the fibular, and the patella (the kneecap). There are also two muscle groups that connect to the knee joint - the quadriceps and the posterior compartment of the proximal leg. One group of muscles known as the hamstring help to bend the knee and extend the hips. Alongside these elements are some important connective tissues, including the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (ACL and PCL).


Knee pain can be the result of damage to any one of these elements and can include conditions such as:

• patellofemoral syndrome

• osteoarthritis

• meniscal tear

• ACL or PCL strain or tear

• patellar subluxation or tendonitis

• bursitis

• gout


How can Active Release Techniques help with knee pain?

Active Release Techniques is a form of soft tissue therapy that works by breaking up adhesions that have formed in the muscles and connective tissues due to overuse, strain, or injury. Adhesions are bundles of scar tissue that the body forms in response to either large injuries or repetitive smaller (and often unnoticeable) injuries. These adhesions can prevent the muscle from functioning as it should, cause pain, reduce strength, and restrict some blood flow to the area.


To break up the adhesions, Active Release Techniques practitioners use a range of specific methods, depending on the size and location of the adhesions. The basic technique involves having the patient shorten the affected muscle as much as possible, then the practitioner puts direct pressure on the site of the adhesion. The patient then lengthens the muscle as far as it will go while the practitioner continues to put pressure on the adhesion. This works to break up the scar tissue, releasing the muscle from its tensions.

Active Release Techniques works best when treating injuries to the muscles and connective tissues connected to the knee. For example, one study found that Active Release Techniques can improve hamstring flexibility.


While it cannot directly treat injuries and conditions related to the bones or joints, it can indirectly help with these conditions. This is because they tend to affect how the knee joint functions, which can put a strain on the muscles around the joint. This strain can increase the pain and reduce the functioning of the knee even further. Active Release Technique can help to maintain and restore the functioning of these muscles and reduce the impact of the condition.


Active Release Techniques is a non-invasive and side-effect-free technique that can help to treat a multitude of knee problems by breaking up adhesions in the soft tissue that affect how the knee functions and cause pain. It can also help to ensure that the knee joint is as supported as possible to improve functioning when it is affected by problems related to the bones and joints.


Learn more here

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