Your Popliteus Muscle And Knee Pain

Treating Your Popliteus Muscle Safely

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

Healthy HeartWhile February is the shortest month of the year, to our northern family and friends it is the longest, seemingly endless, month because it seems like winter is never going to go away.

Where I live in Sarasota Florida, winter brings us near-perfect days and cooler nights.  It’s my favorite time of year.  And of course, we all celebrate the holiday of love – Valentine’s Day!

Just a bit of trivia: In 1868, Richard Cadbury released the first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates, followed in 1902 with the first Valentine hearts from the New England Confectionery Company. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland created the first commercial Valentine’s Day cards in the United States. Hallmark first offered Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and began producing them in 1916.  (Thanks to Wikipedia for all this interesting info).

I was reviewing last year as I was deciding on a topic for this month.  We discussed:

*Heel pain

*Groin pain

*Low back pain

*Restless leg

*Foot pain

*We spent two months discussing various causes of headaches,

*And now we are in 2024, this will be the second month explaining some of the many causes of knee pain.

In each of these I showed, or explained to you, how to do a simple self-treatment that can help to relieve the pain.  Each of the treatments are in my books, and many people have decided to just order one of the books, so they had the full treatment protocol for aches and pains from your head to your foot.

I’ve done self-treatment videos, and if you have come to the office, you know that I teach you how to do specific self-treatments that relate to your personal area of pain.

Before I change the way I do things, let’s finish off knee pain by talking about a little muscle that causes pain deep inside your knee joint.  It’s a muscle called popliteus.

Your Popliteus Muscle And Knee Pain

The popliteus is a small muscle that causes a LOT of deep-knee pain. It is located at the back of your knee joint.  It attaches to the bone in your lower leg, crosses the joint, and inserts into your thigh bone.  You can get a good look at it and read all about it by going to

Because of the location of the origination and insertion points, when it contracts normally you bend your knee.  In fact, its nickname is “the key that unlocks the knee.”

The muscle shortens and you bend your knee so you can sit down.  However, you are sitting for a while and the muscle experiences muscle memory, so the muscle now “thinks” it is supposed to be shorter.

You then try to straighten your leg and stand up.  However, the muscle is too short to make that movement, and it pulls hard on your knee joint.  Since the muscle is so deep, you feel the pain deep inside the joint, and it may feel like a knife cutting into the back of your knee.


Fortunately, all you need to do is press your fingertips into the muscle, hold it for about 15 seconds, and then s-l-o-w-l-y straighten your leg.  The pressure will force toxins out of the fibers, and straightening your leg will stretch the fibers.


When you are sitting for extended periods of time, simply stretch out your legs every 10 minutes or so.  That will stretch the muscle before it has the chance for muscle memory to shorten the fibers.

What’s New For This Year?

This year I’m going to continue explaining why various muscles cause pain from the top of your head to your feet.  The difference will be that I’ve already posted most of the self-treatments, and if you have one of my books, you definitely have all of the self-treatments.

Plus, there’s something exciting happening in 2024!

I’ve been working with my webmaster to start a yearly membership program where people can join and get:

*24/7 lifetime online access to my eBook: The Pain-Free Athlete

*a Perfect Ball (free shipping in the USA only),

*two 15 minute Zoom consultations where we can isolate the member’s pain situation, and

*access to several members-only group Zoom meetings over the course of the year.

This membership program will be renewable each year (sans the book and ball) so members will be able to quickly discover the source of their pain before it becomes an issue.

Pain-Free AthleteThis book has been called “the bible” by athletes because they could find all their answers in it.

You can also have it in your home so you can Stop Pain FAST!


Watch for more new and exciting changes happening in 2024!



Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About The Author

Julie DonnellyJulie Donnelly has been a licensed massage therapist since 1989, specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries. The author of several books including Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, The Pain-Free Athlete, and The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution.

Julie has also developed a proven self-treatment program for the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

She has a therapy practice in Sarasota, Florida, and she travels around the USA to teach massage and physical therapists how to do the Julstro Method, and she also teaches self-treatment clinics to anyone interested in taking charge of their own health and flexibility.

She may be reached at her office: 919-886-1861, or through her website:

Relief From Knee Pain

What Causes Knee Pain? 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

Closing Out the Old Year And Starting A New One

Walking FastI hope that 2022 was kind to you and your family.  Covid seemed to come and go, with new strains popping up every time we turned around.  What a year!

In December the foods all seemed to be fattening – delicious for sure, but fattening.  Which brings me to the topic of the month.  Maybe you are trying to walk off some of the extra calories you put on last month.

Walking will help burn the calories, but it can also come with aches and pains from muscles getting used repetitively.

This month I want to focus on the pain you feel on the outside of your knee after several days of walking more than your body is used to. It can reduce your walks to a slow hobble at best. And that isn’t going to burn off any extra calories.

What Causes Knee Pain?

The muscle I want to talk about this month is Tensor Fascia Lata (called TFL for short).

If you make a fist with both hands and then put them on your hips, you are right on top of the TFL.  A small muscle, the TFL attaches to a very long tendon called the iliotibial band (ITB).

This tendon is blamed for pain on the outside of your knee, and while it does insert there so it causes pain when it is tight, it’s only tight because of the TFL.

Sounds like you’re going in circles but let me explain.

The TFL is responsible for stabilizing your knee when you are standing on one foot.  You don’t think about it, but you are on one foot with every step to take!

You can feel the muscle contract by pressing your fingertips into the muscle on each hip, and then move from one leg to the other. You’ll feel the muscle tighten.

The repetitive movement causes the muscle to shorten, and it pulls up on the ITB.  This will cause tension to be put on the insertion point at your knee and causes pain. It will also limit range-of-motion when you are walking.

It’s interesting that most people don’t feel the pain in their hip, but they definitely feel it on the outside of their knee.

Relief From Knee Pain 

If you are experiencing pain on the outside of your knee while walking, your Tensor Fascia Lata muscle is probably too tight. Here is how to treat your TFL muscle.

Place the ball as shown in this picture.

Move around a little bit until you find the tight spot.  It will be painful.

Only add enough pressure that it “hurts so good,” and then stay there for 30 seconds.  Release the pressure. Repeat 2-3 times until it doesn’t hurt.

Zoom Consultations 

Almost every month I have been showing you how to do a self-treatment that I’ve developed.  And, as you know, I’ve written books that have all the self-treatments, including many that I don’t put into this newsletter.

However, your specific situation my require more than just the basics that I show here in the newsletter.

You can still get help!

I’ve been doing Zoom consultations for several years, and they really work well.

In fact, you get instruction that is specific to your needs, and often I’ll demonstrate the movement, and I always make sure you are doing it correctly.

Work directly with me by going to

A picture is worth 1000 words – and a Zoom consultation is priceless!

Next Month: Bunion Relief 

We’ll be looking at how muscles can pull on the bones that protrude at the base of your big toe and become a bunion.

Wishing you and your family a Healthy and Happy New Year!

Julie Donnelly

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Health Tips From The Professor