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If your joints sound like a microwaveable bag of popcorn every time you behind down, or move, you might want to take a look at these exercises. Often times it is simply a result of the fluid that coats your joints being pushed through certain ranges of motion. However, there are instances when the constant cracking, coupled with consistent pain, can be a red flag that something is wrong. 

6 stretches you can do in 6 minutes to stop your knees from cracking and popping

Are Popping Knees Serious?

Generally, tight or misaligned muscles will pull the knee cap out of alignment. Over time that imbalance can cause clicking or popping, which could be a potential problem.  The cartilage can wear down and potentially lead to early onset arthritis as well as many issues involved with deterioration of the joint. Releasing allows you to activate tight muscles that are shifting the balance of your muscle structure.  

Hip Flexor Release

Knee pain is often caused by a misaligned hip. A hip flexor release can help relieve and treat this issue. For this stretch you need to tape two tennis balls together. Tape two tennis balls together. You need two because of the size of your hip flexor.

To stretch: Lie on your stomach and place the taped balls just below your hip bone. Lean and press down with your body weight onto the balls. Bend the knee on the side of the release in a 90-degree angle. Swing your leg side from to side as far as you can tolerate. Repeat as needed in 30-second- to 2-minute intervals. 

IT Band Release:

IT band stretch

The IT Band is a ligament that runs down the outer edge of the thigh from hip to shin. It’s attached to the knee and helps stabilize and move the joint. When it’s tight or inflamed, it can pull the knee cap out of alignment. 

To Stretch: Lie on the side you want to release and place a foam roller under your bottom leg, halfway between your hip and knee. Slide your leg up and down over the foam roller, pressing with your body weight and moving from the top of the knee to the base of the hip.  Repeat in 30-second intervals for 2 minutes. Focus on a specific area the most tender area is the most highly recommended. Bend your knee at a 90-degree angle then straighten. Repeat this for 10-15 seconds. 

Side Steps with Resistance Band:  

The outer quad muscle tends to be weaker than the muscle that runs along the top of your thigh. This imbalance leads to the kind of imbalance that causes your knee cap to pull out of line. 

To Stretch: Pull a resistance band up right below your knees and lower down into a squat.  Move two steps to the right then two steps to the left. Make sure you pull your legs apart and stretch the band. Repeat one 30-second to 1-minute set 3 times, 3 days a week.

Calf Release:

Calf release is a technique that helps relieve muscle tension and tightness through direct pressure. Stretching, by contrast, simply elongates the muscle. Use this technique to release tight calf muscles and get your knee cap back on track.

To Stretch: Sit with your calf on top of a tennis ball. Lay your other leg on top of it, and roll yourself up and down over the ball. Once you find a spot that’s tender, stop and point your foot up and down for 30 seconds. Repeat as needed.

Inner Thighs Squat:

The inner thigh is often weaker than the top part of the quad muscle. To strengthen it and keep knee pain at bay.

To Stretch: Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. Keep the weight on your heels. As you begin to squat, bring your hips back as if you’re trying to sit in a chair that’s too far behind you. When squatting move your knees out to the sides and go as low as you can. But no lower than a 90-degree angle and push back up through your heels. Do 3 sets of 15, 3 days a week.

Oblique  Activation:

Your oblique, aka the tear-drop shaped quad muscle that runs along the inside of the knee cap, is often one of the weaker muscles on the thigh that can be responsible for pulling your knee cap off track. 

To Stretch: Stand in a split stance, keeping all of your weight in your front leg. Squat straight down, stopping halfway. Your front knee should stay directly over your ankle. While squatting, twist your front leg to the right, hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Release and rise up, pushing through the balls of your feet. Do 3 sets of 15 on each leg, 3 days a week.

Sources:

http://www.prevention.com/fitness/exercises-cracking-knees

Image Sources:

https://media2.popsugar-assets.com/files/2013/05/29/696/n/1922729/f110d3d247609f4e_9813250736328dfa_rolling-ITB.preview.jpg

https://sustainableexercise.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/mg_1956.jpg

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