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Knee Tendon Fascia Release – Increase Bending/Straightening + Rehab for Acute Knee Injuries

Click here to watch the quad technique mentioned in the video.

The strategies explored in this video are useful if you’ve experienced acute knee injury, such as a sudden twisting or impact injury. 

Whether the injury happened during a sport like skiing, soccer, jiu jitus or other martial arts, or happened during a car accident or fall, or whether – like me – you fell in a river, got your feet stuck between rocks and twisted your knee really badly…this video is for you if you’ve ever experienced a rapid/sudden knee injury, even if that injury was decades ago. 

While we’re focused primarily on the quad tendons in this video, you can use the strategies I show you to target other tendons and ligaments in and around your knee joint, depending on what your body needs. 

Some of you will need to target your IT Band tendon where it attaches, some of you may need to target primary the inner thigh tendons, like VMO (vastus medialis oblique, a quad muscle), sartorius or gracilis; while other people may need to target the LCL, MCL or patella tendon. 

You’re looking for fascia adhesions, where the connective tissue of these muscle tendons (or ligaments in and around the knee) got pulled into a protective contraction.

When fascia is really health, even tendons and ligaments shouldn’t be identifiable by a “clunk” – they should blend seamlessly into their greater environment, which includes muscle fascia, blood vessels, nerves etc and all the fascia wrapping each of these. 

The point here is to identify the fascia adhesions and “scrub” them out using your thumbs to compress the fascia, and movement of your leg to shear the fascial fibers apart. 

For BEST results don’t just “massage” these fascial adhesions or push them around with your thumbs.

You’ll need to focus diligently on pinning the adhesions as securely as you can in place, while your leg movement is what creates the “release” of the dense tendon fascia. 

Tendons will be more ahdesed than ligaments, since tendons come from the musculature and attach to bones, while the ligaments are dense fascia not coming from muscle that attaches bone to bone. There is generally less fluidity in ligaments, because tendons need to be more flexible (while still denser than muscle). 

You can even wiggle your thumbs UNDER your kneecap to see if there are adhesions under there, which will be the primary cause of your knee feeling “stuck” or painful, as if someone has jammed a stick under your kneecap. 

This process will not be a one and done, so you’ll need to keep checking on your knee tendon fascia every day until you begin to notice significant changes. Creating healthful fluidity here may take months of work, depending on when your injury occurred. 

If your injury was recent, you’ll want to continue doing this fascia release every day or every other day as you progress in your healing.

When you start moving more again (in my case, I’m walking and hiking) you may need to continue doing this fascia release of the knee tendons, since these are still the areas that will compensate while your injured ligament (like MCL or meniscus) heal. 

If you experienced the acute knee injury decades ago, you won’t have to worry as much about compensations…but it will be harder to get into the deep fascia where these adhesions are. You may have to break through the outer layers of quad tissue first, depending on your body, activity level and current fascial health. 

For best results, watch the video carefully and please use CAUTION. We’re working in and around a sensitive joint, and if you get ANY sensations of “danger” from your body (like your knee feeling unsafe) please STOP. You may need professional help to do this safely. 

Please share your experience and results below, I love hearing your stories!

* Disclaimer: The contents of this blog and accompanying YouTube channel are for informational purposes only and do not render medical or psychological advice, opinion, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided through this website is expressly the opinions of each author and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. This is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical or psychological problem, you should consult your appropriate health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Links on this website are provided only as an informational resource, and it should not be implied that we recommend, endorse or approve of any of the content at the linked sites, nor are we responsible for their availability, accuracy or content.

  • Janice says:

    Alisha, you are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. Its great reading what other people have written and to read your reply as I am able to relate to the knee pain I have. Oh and by the way, I am moving to South California at the end of this year, I’ll look you up when I get there. Look forward to nerding out over fascia 🙂

  • Jen says:

    Thanks Elisha! I injured my knee Spring skiing 5 days ago. My MRI shows a Level 3 MCL tear and a ACL tear. My knee is currently swollen, stiff and sore. Can I cause more damage by starting fascia release too soon? Also, can you suggest how to keep lymph and toxin moving out of the knee when there is limited ROM? I LOVE your work-EVERYTHING from your techniques and NS insights! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights.

    • Hi Jen – Ugh! I’m so sorry to hear of your injury. I know I’m responding to you a little late, but here are my thought: I like starting fascia release as soon as possible. To me, this means working AROUND any acutely inflamed areas first. Often with these types of injuries the areas of compensation or those muscles that contracted to protect you (like maybe your IT Band, quads etc) will be TIGHTER than the actual site of injury. For moving lymph and toxins out of the knee, same thing: you’ll want to open up your whole body, because the lymph system doesn’t work in isolation. What did was dry brushing my whole body, wrapped my knee in a HOT wet towel for 20 minutes to increase the acute inflammatory response (which actually decreases the swelling), and then as soon as possible it’s fascia release and walking. That’s the short answer. And ALWAYS listen to your body, because you might need something different from me.

  • Lee says:

    Thanks Elisha! Have had a bottom of left knee injury for last 3 years…impact in hands of physio unfortunately. Found this a great way to give very direct and specific attention to release fascia and reduce the level of pain and stiffness in the knee. Especially the part where you compressed tissue below kneecap as rotated. The final two instructions on mat and chair seemed to only address the top of the kneecap…useful but would have been great to see how you would treat bottom of knee doing this if possible. I will experiment though in the way you did bottom with first compression instructions. Thanks…such important work and so helpful!

    • Hi Lee – please do experiment, as there are a LOT of small changes you can make to the basic methods I give you in this video that will make a difference. I’ve had to change what I do with my own knee as my structure changes with my healing process. What I need now has changed from what I needed 2 months ago. I did have a small adhesion in my patella tendon (below the knee), and the best thing that helped me with that was actually lying on my back with my knee bent and compressing the area while letting my leg slowly drop, then lift, then drop. I also got into that area from the seated position shown in this video, with the same back and forth motion. Hope this helps!

  • Nathalie says:

    I had a bone-patellar tendon-bone (BTB) autograft ACL reconstruction >20yrs ago. The rehab program was good and I played a lot of sports over the years with no problem.

    Started running 3yrs ago, and this year after just ~6mi that knee now gets really stiff. I roll it out (probably not good enough so I have to go through your videos) and stretch and squat full down on it (if I don’t stretch the stiffness out within 24hrs then there’s decreased range of motion the next time I go out for a run).

    This tendon and the other video, quad technique, have been really good for me these past several days. It feels like this will help the slight ache in that knee that I sometimes get in the middle of the run. (That ache right in the joint often goes away if I do a head-to-toe check to make sure I’m not running sloppy.)

    Learning a lot here. Thank you 🙂

  • Bonni Marcus says:

    Thank you!

  • Mandy says:

    Thank you for posting this!!! I think this is another step for me in getting relief! I was hit by a car in November while running and am still dealing with the after effects in my MCL. I tried it and definitely felt adhesions. I know what to work on now!

    • Mandy – that’s so crazy about getting hit by a car! I’m glad you’re ok, other than having to heal some physical injury. Please keep me/us posted once you get a chance to work on those other areas I mentioned on Facebook 😊

  • Jackie says:

    Ok
    I have injury in my medal
    Which inside the knee
    I here a lot of popping plus I feel very sore
    Is that normal

    • I always encourage you to listen to your own instincts in order to stay safe working near a joint. But in my experience, I felt a lot of soreness when I first began doing these tendon releases. Soreness/tenderness is normal if the tissue is injured or really tight. Healthy tissue won’t feel sore when compressed or released. And my knees have been popping a lot, but it feels either good or neutral, never “bad.”

  • Jen says:

    Couple of falls straight onto left kneecap. That’s a few years ago now, but the relief to the tightness in the knee from doing these releases is wonderful, like a big yawn! (Got a little surprise ‘click’ in left hip when I was getting up after doing the floor releases, so that was a nice bonus.) Thanks a million Elisha

  • BRIDGET MAY says:

    Hey Elisha! Thank you! this is really great timing as I’m having some knee problems right now! Since my knee is still pretty swollen and sore I think I’ll wait a bit to get in right around the knee cap but I’m doing a lot to release the quads and hamstrings and calves…sooooo tight! Also, I love you plants!!! –Bridget

    • Hey Bridget – you’re welcome! If I were you (since I just injured my knee too, which is why I got creative and started this method of releasing the tendons), I recommend using HEAT on the knee (like wrapping your entire knee in a really hot wet cloth, then wrapped again with a towel to lock in the heat). And after applying heat, you can get into the tendons more easily. This actually helps flush OUT toxic cells/debris within the site of injury, and encourages blood to flow into the knee joint – which is the primary purpose of inflammation. Just a thought, as this worked wonders for me. But PLEASE always listen to your own body and intuition.

  • Lynn says:

    Excellent! thank you Elisha.
    30 years after a severe ski injury, after tons of physical therapy and other modalities, these techniques have helped me find areas still needing to be released. Magic! AND I’m walking better. Blessings to you, Lynn

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