knee fascia

Knee Fascia (How I Treat and Stretch)

Have you ever heard of knee fascia? Every part of your body is encased in fascia and it’s what helps keep the body together. Knee fascia, understandably, helps connect all parts of the knee and helps hold the joint together.

Fascia takes many forms, including stretchy and stiff tissue.

Muscles and bones get the most of the credit when the inner workings of the body is discussed, while fascia receives little attention. If you never studied anatomy, you may not have even heard of the term. 

Damaged fascia can cause discomfort and pain. In this case, you can experience tenderness and tightness.

Fascia damage can be caused by high impact activities and by continual stress on your body (too much exercise or over doing it).

In this article I will emphasize the benefits of keeping your fascia healthy. You can reduce the risk of injury to your fascia. You can eliminate or ease fascia pain and improve your quality of life.

Knee Fascia – What And Where Is It?

Fascia holds together the entire body. The term, in Latin means “band” or “bundle”.

Fascia is connective tissue. It surrounds the body parts from organs to muscles to blood vessels.

It can be part of the body on its’ own, like the thick plantar fascia that stabilizes the arch or the bottom of your foot. Fascia is made up of collagen (the main structural protein found in connective tissue and skin).

If your fascia is healthy it will be flexible, supple and malleable and you will be able to glide, twist and bend pain free. Fascia connects all connective tissue ( that means the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and blood)

The deep fascia of the leg is continuous above the fascia late, and it is attached around the knee to the patella (kneecap), the patellar ligament, the tuberosity and condyles of the Tibia leg bone, and to the head of the Fibula leg bone.

It includes all the connective tissue supporting your knee joint.

Can You Damage Knee Fascia From Too Much Activity?

Sure, it’s possible to exercise too much and cause knee fascia damage.

It’s not unheard of for athletes to over-train and damage their fascia. In fact, plantar fasciitis often occurs in the foot of active people.

In regards to the knee, you can also over-do it. Consistency and gradual increases with a workout pattern are important to keeping fascia healthy.

Binge exercising or “weekend warriors” may have a higher likelihood of damage to knee fascia. As we age, we all experience some wear and tear on our joints and the knee is no exception.

There are several unhealthy habits that can contribute to poor fascia development. They include:

  1. A sedentary lifestyle. If you sit at work all day and then retire to the couch after work, you’re not doing your body any favors. Fascia needs to be stretched and strengthened and this occurs naturally in a healthy, active person. Because fascia connects all the muscles, joints, bones, and ligaments, the use of the joint and use of muscles is good for fascia.
  2. Poor posture. Sit and try to walk and run correctly. If you always wear high heels, chances are you could injure the fascia on your foot. Likewise, if you don’t bend, twist, and turn on your legs and knee joint, the fascia could become tight or misaligned.
  3. Dehydration. Drink, drink, drink all day long. Hydration improves circulation and keeps the skin supple. Liquids also keep the muscles and ligaments, and fascia hydrated. Hydrated knee fascia means healthier joint.
  4. Overusing or injuring your muscles. Prepare and train for extra long walks, hikes and runs. In the sections above we discussed over-doing it and how excessive training or “weekend warrior” activities can negatively affect knee fascia. Build up strength slowly.
  5. Unhealthy eating habits including obesity. Take the pressure off your knee joint and improve the effectiveness of your fascia. Obesity takes a toll on your heart, and joints. Improve your eating habits and adopt an active lifestyle – your knee fascia will appreciate it.
  6. Poor sleep quality. Get to bed at a reasonable hour that allows you a good night’s sleep. Get enough rest. If you’ve recently had joint surgery, getting enough rest is important for the fascia to heal.
  7. Stress. Stress can lead to all sorts of health problems. Exercise can help reduce stress levels and exercise will also help the body overcome stress. Activities like yoga can actually reduce stress and build strength and flexibility in the body.

Tight Knee Fascia – Treatment

Consult your physician before starting a new exercise program. Below are a few general stretching and strengthening exercises that I did after my knee surgery. They helped me loosen and stabilize my joint.

  1. Stretch (for a minimum of 10 minutes daily) elongating your muscles. This can release tension your muscles and build resiliency for any twist or bend in the knee. Elasticity in the knee fascia is important.
  2. Roll out your tight spots around the knee with a foam roller. Use hand or an electric hand massager on the tight spot. This is a form of manual stretching and massage and works great for tight fascia.
  3. Use steam, visit the sauna. After working out, the steam can improve muscle recovery. Warmth helps loosen the muscles and ligaments and improved circulation.
  4. Ice therapy, icing reduces inflammation, resulting in less swelling and pain. After activity ice can help reduce inflammation and allow the body to begin healing more quickly
  5. Cardio workouts, walk, bike, swim, jog or do yard work. These workouts enhance blood circulation.
  6. Try Yoga, an instructor and the group support of a class may be good motivation to stretch on a regular basis.
  7. Keep the body and fascia hydrated. Drink plenty of water.

Rule of Thumb

For every hour you do impact exercise, do 30 minutes work  (stretching) to improve the health of your fascia.

Will Your Knee Fascia Be Sore After Knee Surgery

Some knee stiffness following knee surgery is normal. Some stiffness can persist for months.

Your doctor and physical therapist will have you up and exercising immediately after your surgery. It is important to be mobile as soon as possible after knee surgery to avoid scar tissue build up in the joint.

The more immobile your are, the greater risk of developing arthrofibrosis, also known as stiff knee syndrome.

It can occur after knee surgery. Over time, scar tissue can build up inside the knee causing the knee joint to tighten. Scar tissue can seriously impact the knee’s range of motion.

This can cause pain while walking and exercising, as well as ongoing pain and swelling. If this occurs, consult a physical therapist and surgeon immediately.

My knee was tight after my knee replacement surgery and it was uncomfortable to exercise and to bend. My physical therapists told me to expect pain but that if I was conscientious and worked hard I would be happy with the outcome.

They were true to their word. 

Conclusion

Scar tissue after knee surgery or from an injury is part of the body’s healing process. Also known as fascia or connective tissue, scar tissue forms to help protect the injury or wound.

You can cause damage to your knee fascia from high impact exercise and excessive activity.  Fascia can be very sensitive to pain and you can experience tightness and tenderness.

The good news is that damage caused to your fascia can sometimes be reversible. Keep moving, stay hydrated, stretch, relax and respect your body.

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