There’s nothing like a little knee pain to make you feel old and out of shape. Ironically, it is normally when you are trying to get in shape that you discover these little annoyances.

When I started jogging a few years ago, it was a shock to my system. I quickly discovered my body much preferred a brisk walk over running. I had never felt that out of shape before. Although I was lifting weights and occasionally doing the stepper or elliptical, my body wasn’t used to jogging and it let me know it quick! My hip ached, my knees throbbed, and my muscles were incredibly sore.

Even though most of my body adapted to the new routine eventually, my knees took a little longer to improve. Believe it or not, it was a simple fix – all I needed to do was stretch.

I am sure this may sound odd to some people. I mean, what in the world could stretching a muscle do for a joint? Well, plenty! You see, my leg muscles were really tight, especially my quadriceps (thigh muscles). Since these tight muscles attach to the patella (the knee cap), tight muscles were most likely the cause of my discomfort.

If you gently stretch the leg muscles, you relieve the tension on the kneecap, allowing for proper knee tracking. The only drawback is you have to be patient and consistent with your stretching routine. You can’t expect your muscles to loosen up after just a few stretches. With increased activity comes increase tightness, so it’s something you have to do often.

I had to stretch several times a day. I would even stop and stretch in the middle of my run to help get me through my routine. Eventually, my knee pain completely went away. My two miles of limping turned into a four and half mile pain-free jog thanks to a few simple stretches.

While there are many reasons for knee pain, tight leg muscles are often the culprit, especially if you just started noticing it after increasing activity. Unfortunately, many people quit an exercise program due these new aches and pains, thinking their body just can’t handle it. My knee pain could have easily, and literally, stopped me in my tracks. Instead, I didn’t give up and I’ve been running pain free for 9 years.

When it comes to knee pain, the solution maybe easier than you think.

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(photo from www.mediahelp.org)