Where to Massage for Knee Pain

by MassageJoy - January 31, 2019

Massage is the quickest way to deal with knee pain and often leads to quick pain relief. I asked our licensed and professional massage therapists their advice on where to and how to massage for knee pain. Their advice will be helpful to anyone suffering from knee pain or anyone wanting to help their loved ones suffering from knee pain.

So where do you massage for knee pain? The area to focus on for the knee pain massage is just above the knee on the quad muscles, because trigger points on the quadriceps refer pain to the knee. Do not massage directly on the kneecap and do not push the kneecap around. Consider using peppermint oil for the massage.

In this article I will give you simple massage techniques you can use to reduce knee pain. My mother suffers from knee pain and I have used these techniques successfully to help her deal with knee pain. I will also teach you how to use essential oils to help you with knee pain. Finally I will cover the main reasons and causes of knee pain.

Knee Pain Massage Techniques

To understand the knee pain massage techniques it is essential to understand trigger points. A trigger point is a sensitive knot found within bands of muscle and occurs for a number of reasons including injury, surgery or basic stress and strain.

Trigger points cause soreness and pain. One important characteristic of trigger points is that they can refer pain to other parts of the body away from the location of the trigger point. For example most headaches start in the neck and shoulders but refer pain to the head.

In the various knee pain massage techniques we will be massaging the trigger points and not directly the area of the pain. The 3 main techniques for knee pain massage are:

  1. Lift Technique
  2. Friction Technique
  3. Quad Compression Technique

Knee Lift Massage Technique for Knee Pain

The knee lift technique for knee pain is designed to help locate trigger points above and below the knee. During the massage you will need feedback from the recipient about any referred pain as you massage above and below the knee.

It is advised to use essential oils such as peppermint or eucalyptus for the massage. Using essential oils makes the technique more effective.

Knee Lift Massage Technique for Knee Pain
Knee Lift Massage Technique for Knee Pain
  • Have the recipient lie on their back on a hard, semi-hard surface, a mattress will do just fine
  • Have the recipient bend their knee and rest their feet firmly on the surface or alternately have them rest their calf on your thigh as you sit beside them (see illustration)
  • Apply a bit of peppermint or eucalyptus oil on your hands and gently start gliding your hands above and below the knee of the recipient
  • Place your fingers and thumbs above and below the knee and begin to gently squeeze the area above and below the kneecap
  • As you squeeze slowly slide off those areas away from the knee cap
  • Continue this technique of squeezing and alter the pressure as directed by the recipient
  • You can massage one knee for 5-10 minutes and then switch to the other

The knee lift technique combined with the knee friction technique often delivers quick results because you are able to affect the trigger points all around the knee.

Knee Friction Massage Technique for Knee Pain

The knee friction technique is designed to affect the trigger points at the sides of the knee cap. As with other techniques, use of essential oils like peppermint and eucalyptus is highly recommended.

Friction Massage Technique for Knee Pain
Friction Massage Technique for Knee Pain
  • Have the recipient lie on their back on a hard or semi-hard surface, a mattress will do just fine
  • Have the recipient stretch their leg out completely straight (see illustration)
  • You can stand or sit beside the recipient by their stretched leg
  • Apply a bit of eucalyptus or peppermint oil on to your hands
  • Gently start massaging the sides of the knee cap using long gliding strokes to warm up the area
  • Start the friction process by placing your thumb at the sides of the knee cap
  • Press in with your thumbs on either side of the knee and glide your thumb from the top to the bottom of the knee maintaining the pressure
  • Repeat this process for 5-10 minutes varying the pressure as per the needs of the recipient
  • Switch to the other knee

Quad Compression Massage Technique for Knee Pain

The quadriceps is a group of muscles located at the front of the thigh. The quad compression technique is designed to focus on the quadriceps as the quadriceps muscles often refer pain to the knee. Affecting the trigger points on the quadriceps can help treat knee pain.

Massage for Knee Pain
Quad Compression Massage Technique for Knee Pain
  • Have the recipient lie down on their back on a hard or semi-hard surface, a mattress will do just fine
  • Have them lay their leg flat on the surface (see illustration)
  • Stand or kneel down beside the recipient by their hips
  • Start massaging the quad muscles using a kneading technique. The kneading technique involves holding the skin and muscles between your thumb and fingers and gently lifting it and releasing it, as though kneading dough
  • Continue kneading the quad muscles all around in a circular direction
  • You can apply this massage technique for 5-10 minutes before switching to the other leg

You can use all the 3 techniques together in a single session. Although these techniques can be performed without oil and will deliver results, I do recommend the use of essential and aromatherapy oils.

Essential Oils to Help Relieve Knee Pain

Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils is one of the most effective treatments for various types of knee pain including arthritis. The use of essential oils not only helps with retaining the mobility of knee joints but also helps to ease inflammation and swelling.

You can use essential oils for knee pain in several different ways:

  • Apply directly on the affected area
  • Mix with a base vegetable oil to create an aromatherapy oil to be used during massage
  • Add 4-5 drops in bath water for daily baths

One effective way to use essential oils is in daily baths. You can try this method for 2 weeks to see initial results. This is a form of detoxification. To each bath add the following:

  • 2 handfuls of Epsom salts
  • One handful of rock salt
  • Add 4 drops of the synergistic blend you create using 3 essential oils

Synergistic blend of essential oils for knee pain:

Fennel30 drops
Cypress16 drops
Juniper10 drops

During the two-week period of the bath treatment toxins in the form of crystalline substances are dissolved by the body and eliminated from the body. After this 2 week period you can use different essential oils and find a combination that works for you.

The following essential oils can be used individually or in combination to deal with knee pain:

Chamomile RomanChamomile German
LavenderYarrow
PeppermintNiaouli
CalendulaTagetes
EucalyptusAngelica

Primary Causes of Knee Pain

Knee pain is common in athletes and older adults. Chronic knee pain is caused by arthritis which is a term that is applied to several diseases, the most common of which are:

Rheumatoid arthritis : The causes of this condition are uncertain and it often follows a viral infection or other illnesses. It is also suggested to be caused by a defect in the auto-immune system of the body or related to the glands and hormones. The pain is related to the inflammation of the fibrous connective tissue around joints.

Osteoarthritis : This is a disease in which the cartilage wears away leaving the bones exposed and causing the formation of rough bone deposits. It is usually caused by overuse and is often seen in athletes and weekend warriors.

Gout : This is caused by an overproduction of uric acid which causes the formation of crystals around the joints and these lead to pain in the joints including chronic knee pain.

Related Questions

Is walking good for knee pain? Maintaining mobility in the knee joints is essential for the long term health of the knee and to combat symptoms like knee pain. You can maintain mobility in the knee joints by walking or by performing knee stretching exercises if the pain makes walking intolerable.

What is the ideal diet for knee pain? Dietary changes can stop knee pain caused by arthritis rather effectively.

Include the following in your diet:

  • Fish
  • Green vegetables
  • Pulses
  • Chicken
  • Nuts & seeds

Avoid the following:

  • Red meat including pork
  • Sugar
  • Refined flour
  • Coffee, alcohol & dairy products
  • Fried foods