Healthy knees benefit from well-toned supporting muscles. A tight iliotibial (IT) band or quadriceps will pull excessively on the knee, says Houston-based physical therapist and former dancer Jennifer Romanek. Here are two foam-roller exercises she recommends to release tight muscles:
IT Band Roll
1. Flip over onto your side and place the foam roller underneath the outside of your thigh (iliotibial band). Keep the bottom leg straight, bend your top leg with the foot flat on the floor and support the upper body with your hands. Keep abdominal muscles engaged for back support.
2. Slowly roll up and down your IT band, from your knee to your hip.
3. Roll your body forward and back to get all sides of the IT band.
1. Face the floor and place the roller underneath the front of your thighs; support the upper body with your forearms. Pull in your abdominal muscles, while keeping the back straight and supported.
2. Roll up and down the front of your thighs, or quadriceps, going all the way down to your knee and up to the hips.
3. Repeat with legs straight, legs turned out and then with legs turned in.
(Tip: For best results, complete both exercises three times a day. But remember to stay on the soft muscle during each exercise; do not roll over bones, including the kneecap, and go very slowly to iron out muscle and fascia.)