Done properly, the foam rolling, stretching and core exercises available on this site will help alleviate knee pain and ultimately help you improve your movement (alongside the main exercises) to overcome patella maltracking. It is not possible to simply do them once or twice, for a set amount of reps or minutes, and expect results, though. Following the mentality of our exercise program theory, you have to pay attention to the effects each exercise has on you individually. So what do you need to look for in these peripheral exercises, to ensure success?
Maintaining regular improvements with foam rolling
With foam rolling, a good rule of thumb, and an excellent example of why prescriptive exercise regimes won’t do you justice, is that you should keep going until your pain reduces. You only know that foam rolling has a had a positive effect when the pain caused by muscle knots has lessened. How does this work in practice?
Say you start foam rolling on your quads and you feel pain at an excruciating level of 10 out of 10. If you don’t keep rolling, and stop when the pain is still at 10/10, it will still be at 10/10 next time you try. It will always be at 10/10. If you keep going, the foam roller will eventually loosen the muscle knots and improve your muscle tissue quality – and the pain will lessen. Taking the pain down from 10/10 to 9/10 is progress. You need to achieve that result every time you do the exercise.
This won’t lead to instant results. Pressing from a 10 to a 9 may leave you with pain at a level of 10 again the next day. But do that consistently for a whole week, and you’ll soon find that when you start foam rolling the pain starts at a level of 9. Keep pressing further, and it’ll be even less; this is a simple case of pushing for results. If you don’t aim to achieve a lower level of pain, it won’t happen.
Maintaining regular improvements with stretches
A prescription is even simpler to offer for stretches. Using our powerful lower leg stretch as an example, you can push yourself to a point where you feel a little discomfort (not agonising pain), and hold there for at least 30 seconds. Each time you perform the stretch, if you reach a slightly further position before pain kicks in, you’re progressing.
It is important to hold stretches for a long time as muscles react to uncomfortable stretches by attempting to lock into contraction. This is a survival reaction as the muscle fears tearing, but if you give the muscle long enough to realise it won’t tear it will start to relax, and allow you to stretch the muscle properly. After 30 seconds you may be able to push the stretch further; but if you can hold it for longer, try to. We have been known to hold stretches for as long as 2 minutes to see significant soft-tissue changes: a practise encouraged by pro fitness instructor Kelly Starrett.
Improving your core
Our simple ab exercise to help you strengthen your core and control the pelvis is even simpler to progress. We already demonstrated in the exercise plan how you can push yourself to reach the strongest version of the exercise, and as long as you perform the exercise regularly (say 2 to 4 times per week), with about 10 reps each time, it will be enough to provide balance.