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The Guru explains to Lydia that posterior knee pain could be related to the popliteus muscle

Sep 10th, 2014


I am training for the Berlin Marathon at the end of the month and did a 3 hr run on Saturday.

Post run I have had pain behind my right knee.  It feels vey tight and I cannot fully extend my knee without pain.  Sitting it is fine but walking is uuncomforatable, it does loosen off after an extended period of walking (5/10min).

I have massaged my calf and behind the knee with my foam roller and a hand held massage tool but it has not had much effect.

Please can you let me know if there is anything else I can/should be doing?

I have not run or exercised since Saturday.



Sep 10th, 2014

The Guru Responded:

Hi Lydia Going for the most obvious option first it could well be that you’ve got an issue with a little muscle that sits at the back of your knee called popliteus.

This muscle help to locks and unlock your knee with a twist when it goes from straight to bent and the reverse – but it only really comes into play during the first and last few degrees.

If you’ve got poor control of the way your straighten your knee – especially during a looooong run, then this poor little muscles gets duffed up and becomes stiff and sore.

The best way to see if you have is doing a single knee bend and when you SLOWLY straighten up your knee is to assess how much control you have of the straightening bit to end range (last 10 degrees of movement) versus the other side. If it wobbles or snaps back then you’ve got a control issue and this is what you need to get. Basically the above, but slowly, with control and repetitively through the day (little and often). Lay off the foam roller on the back of your knee, get the control, bung on some ice and make sure you don’t let your knee snap back when walking….

No long runs until you’ve got the control back – “soft knees” rule on long runs Otherwise there are a few things….

The Guru
Six Physio

Lydia has responded:

Thank-you very much for your comments! My knee is considerably better.  I haven’t run on it yet but I am walking without discomfort.  It felt very stiff for a couple of days and it didn’t seem as though I had lost the control – is there anything else I could have been? Obviously potentially hard to know without having seen it!

Also could you explain what you mean by ‘soft knees’?

Btw I would thoroughly recommend this service to my friends – thanks!


The Guru replied:

Thanks Lydia


Your options to why it can or could be are pretty limited – and can vary from your sciatic nerve being irritated, an inflamed bursal sac called a Bakers cyst, maybe a degenerate bit of meniscus or at a real distant last is your arcuate ligament.


I think what you’ve described is pretty spot on. The control aspect is tricky to see especially if it’s marginal or only if it’s fatigue related i.e. well into your run

Soft knees are….well soft knees! Try to run with more bounce, slightly more knee bend when your foot hits the ground. It means that it’s much trickier for you to lock your knee back when landing on your foot and pushing into popliteus.


Crack on and good luck!

The Guru

Six Physio

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