Remedial Massage for Leg, Knee, Ankle and Foot Pain

If you are not a runner you might never have considered that pain experienced in your legs, knees, ankles or feet often comes directly from the muscles and stands to feel better after a targeted massage.

A running man with pain

In most cases, muscle knots (called trigger points) are responsible for this kind of pain.     

The picture below shows some sample trigger points and their common referral patterns:

You don’t need to live with Muscular Pain

Remedial Massage that especially focuses on trigger points is designed to deal with acute or chronic pain problems. It is useful for every part of your body. 

Specialists tell us we should tend to our sore muscles as soon as possible so that seemingly minor pain does not develop into chronic conditions. Who of us hasn’t been surprised when symptoms seem to disappear after a few days, and then return as new or different aches and pains?

Because we unconsciously avoid using our painful muscles for a while, we end up unwittingly compensating with other sets. By using these alternative muscles, which are not designed to do the injured muscle’s job, we end up overloading them and creating a risk of chronic conditions that are much harder to treat.

It makes sense that the longer the condition has been present, the more complex a massage treatment is needed for its resolution.

 Muscular Problems in the Thighs

Pain in the thigh can come from trigger points in multiple places: the thigh, gluteus, abdominal, hip, or even lower back muscles. Trigger points close to the hip in the upper thigh muscles can even refer pain to deep inside the pelvis.

If trigger points in the hip or thighs become too painful it can become impossible to sleep on the effected muscle. 1

Painful and stiff thigh muscles also often prevent you from exercising as much as you would like to.

Regular remedial massage helps keep your muscles and surrounding soft tissues supple in ways that normal stretching can’t do. It breaks up the small knots while stretching only aims to lengthen the whole muscle and leaves the knotted contractions untouched.

Remedial Massage for Pain in the Knees

Massage to a kneeMassage therapy for knee pain

Many people are surprised at how many muscles and ligaments are attached to the knee alone.  Muscles of the thigh that are stiff, tight or weak can make the proper use of the knee difficult and painful.

Often an MRI of the knee does not show up any abnormality. Even if it does, trigger points in muscles or ligaments can still be a major or sole cause of all your knee troubles. The pain that these pressure points cause can be every bit as intense and debilitating as that radiating from a damaged knee joint.

If surgery is necessary because of some kind of rupture or damaged cartilage, remedial massage is an important help pre- and post-surgery to keep your muscles relaxed, speed healing of scar tissue, keep your pain to a minimum and help find a new balance for your muscles.

Remedial Massage for Pain in Shins or Calves

Your shin muscles are vitally important in walking properly.  If you find yourself dragging your feet, tripping and stumbling occasionally, a massage can free up and help correct muscle function again.

Calf muscles have the power to lift the entire weight of the body.  Massage limbers them up so that walking, running, jumping, and climbing can occur unimpeded.

The biggest muscle in the lower leg, the soleus, is called the body’s “second heart”. It helps pump the blood from the lower limbs back to the heart.  A tight soleus can even lead to low blood pressure and unexpected fainting. 2

Remedial Massage for Pain in the Ankles and Feet

Pain and numbness in ankles, feet or toes can come from tight muscles or active trigger points in both your feet and lower legs.

Massage of an ankleTrigger point massage to manage ankle pain

Even if a diagnosis exists that has nothing to do with your muscles (e.g. plantar fasciitis, heel spur, tendinitis, sprained ankle) remedial massage to your lower legs and feet could help you manage your condition much better. 3

Common Causes of Leg Muscle Abuse or Injuries

  • Foot pronation or other foot problems
  • Falls, slips, blows, motor vehicle accidents, fractures, muscle tears
  • Stretching already overstretched and therefore tight muscles
  • Overdoing athletic activities (especially when you change direction suddenly, such as soccer, tennis, baseball)
  • Running or walking up or down hills
  • Wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight
  • Sitting in a bad or unsuitable chair or for prolonged periods
  • Wearing a cast on your leg or limping
  • Injecting drugs into the thigh
  • Problems with the hip joint
  • Structural problems (leg length or weight-bearing inequality)
  • Horseback riding
  • Sustained pressure against some leg muscles

Sources: Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction, Dr. Janet Travell, Dr. David Simons & Lois Simons,2nd edition, vol 1,1999 
[1] page 289

[2] page 437ff Vol2 1993
[3] page 441ff