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Self Treatment Techniques for the Upper Legs

Posted by [email protected] on April 21, 2014 at 1:25 AM

Below are some stretches and muscle release techniques for leg, knee, back, and hip pain that I have personally used with good results. Feel free to share and try these techniques, but keep in mind that they might not work for you and are not a substitute for medical treatment. If you feel any sharp pain or your problem gets worse or fails to improve, stop the activity! For more details on my favorite way to stretch or loosen my own muscles, review my Self Treatment page.


Your quads may tend to get too tight when you increase the amount of work they do, whether its starting to walk, run, or increasing an activity you've already been doing for years. Hip or knee pain can be caused by tight quads. While stretching is of moderate use (only can deeply stretch the center quad), you can easily loosen them up with direct pressure.


Lie face down on the floor and placing a tennis ball, rolling pin, or other smooth object under the sorest spot you can find, halfway between your knee and hip. Curl your leg up and down (bending your knee) until you feel at least some relief. If the pressure is too intense, use a smaller object or do the release laying on a bed to lessen the amount of force. Also roll partly onto your side and look for sore points in the outer quad, which are often sources of knee pain.


Hamstrings can also be over-used, and are also prone to getting "pulled". Quad cramps can sometimes also either cause or be caused by tight hamstrings. Hamstrings respond well to slow easy stretching; roll your body form side to side to find the tightest spot, and then sit with a gentle stretch for 2-3 min (or longer), occasionally changing directions and easing into and out of the stretch.


Another way to release the hamstrings is to sit on a hard chair and place a ball or other smooth object under your leg in the sorest spot. Then lift your leg up and down until you feel relief, leaning forward to adjust the amount of pressure. Remember that there are hamstrings on both sides of the back of your leg!

IT Band and Hip Abductors

The IT band itself is not very “stretchy”; tension is controlled by muscles attaching it to the outside of the leg. IT band problems can be caused by imbalanced in the upper leg muscles, especially a tight outer quad.


Lie on your side and place a ball or rolling pin under the IT band, and bend your bottom knee back and forth. Repeat with the object in your hip muscles (between your pelvic and hip bones) to reduce tightness in this area, but rotate your hip to lift your knee up and down off of the floor.

Hip Adductors/Groin Muscles

The muscles on the inside of your thighs can also become tight and limit flexibility. It is hard to treat these muscles yourself with direct pressure, though I was once able to get my elbow into my own thigh for a late-night pain relief session!


I've found that long easy stretching can be effective in getting these muscles to let go, especially if you keep moving into and out of the stretch. With the stretch on the left, rotate your body around until you find the tightest or sorest spot, and then lean in a bit. With the stretch on the right, keep your back straight and lean forward.

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