#PTonICE Daily Show – Thursday, March 14th, 2024 – Gapping mobilization to improve knee flexion

In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Extremity Division Leader Lindsey Hughey demonstrates a manual therapy technique to mobilize the knee joint to improve knee flexion. She also discusses dosing the mobilization as well as demonstrating a home exercise follow-up for patients.

Take a listen to the episode or check out the full show notes on our blog at www.ptonice.com/blog.

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Good morning, PT on ICE Daily Show. How are you? I’m Dr. Lindsay Hughey from Extremity Management coming to you on a technique Thursday. This is my first technique Thursday, and I’m delighted to be with you today. I am going to show you a knee flexion gapping technique today. This is a technique that is really helpful for your folks with knee pain that are having any kind of mechanical knee sound. So maybe it’s popping, maybe it’s clicking, maybe it’s even catching a little bit, or even just like crepitous sounds that maybe bother the patient. And they have some knee flexion deficits. So this gapping technique is one of our favorite in extremity management. So I’m going to show you on our demo model today is Paul. So first things first, we’ll go over your position as the therapist, setting yourself up for good body mechanics. We’ll chat a little bit about dosage. Then we’ll actually talk about a follow-up mobilization to make this technique really effective. it happens what comes next. So this patient really needs to get after self-mobes to follow this up and for it to be its most efficacious in continuing to gain knee flexion and to reduce those mechanical knee sounds.

So as the therapist, you are going to come alongside the patient. The table should be at about mid thigh height as the therapist. Your patient often will position themselves in the middle of the table. Tell them to scoot their hip to your hip. So go ahead and bring your hip to me, Paul, so that they’re close, so that you get some really nice leverage here. The other thing is when you bend their knee into whatever flexion they have, their knee, the top of it, should sit about your chest height. If that’s not the case, you might want to drop the table a little bit lower. So that will depend on therapist’s torso side and then femur length of that patient. Next thing, you are going to come under that popliteal fossa with your elbow. And the patient’s leg is just going to rest in your pubital fossa. So patient, you’ll wait for them to just kind of relax. And then this hand is going to go somewhere along the tibia and fibula. in a cupped fashion, and then you’re gonna sink in with your body. So it looks like so. So if I were to give you a little space here to see, my hand wraps around the tibia and fibula. And then I get back to that staggered PT stance, and I’m gonna lean in with my body and oscillate on off. I’m going to let Paul down for a second and do a little shadow mobilization body position. So I’m going to be staggered stance, midline is tight and active. That arm comes around, carries the limb, and we know we carry some big limbs here, right? If we’re dealing with knee OA, meniscal injury, our big athlete legs, maybe they have some ACL stuff going on. Scoop here. Allow the leg to hang and then get that arm here and then it all becomes body. My body sinks so there’s no break in the arms at all. This all stays tight and you’ll oscillate.

Recommended dosage is 30 to 60-second oscillations, three to six reps, and then you’ll retest that knee flexion. So we’re looking for a change in either pain response, knee flexion, possibly even the mechanical sounds that they’re having, but we try not to emphasize overall on the sound part. But we do want to do that test-retest. I’m going to show you one more time from the top, and then I’m going to show you the follow-up mobilization that we’ll go to for this. So patient is close to you. I’m in staggered stance. I’m going to scoop that knee up, let it rest on my forearm so that I create a little gap in the knee joint. My hand is going to cup. I’m superior to medial and lateral malleolus. And then I’m just going to oscillate and sink for that 30 to 60 second oscillation. whatever the patient can tolerate, but really making sure I create that gap underneath the knee joint and sink in. And then you can get into progressive and more knee flexion. After that, we wanna follow up with a good mobilization. So right, we pretend we did those three to six reps, we’ve retested, he’s feeling good.

So now Paul needs the tools to own that autonomous access, right? To own the joint motion or range of motion that we just restored. So Paul, I’m gonna have you come sit on the floor and we’re gonna actually use a band under his knee and a towel to create the gapping mechanism that my forearm created. So Paul’s going to put that under, and then we’re going to try to also get that band. So we’ll put that in first. Beautiful. And then he’s going to grab that lower tibia and fibula, lean back slightly. So lean on back, Paul, so that your foot’s off the ground. And then he’s going to oscillate his legs. So go ahead and lift your foot off the ground. And now he’ll do that same, whatever oscillatory time, 30 to 60 seconds felt good. He can set a timer and he’ll just kind of bounce on off. It should feel easy and feel very similar. And you can go ahead and relax to what we just did on the table. So again, try to match that dosage time. This technique is good for restoration of knee flexion, helping with pain, and kind of easing some of those mechanical joint sounds. It’s one of our favorite go-tos for knee flexion restoration and extremity management.

If you want to learn more from our team, from Mark and Cody, we would love to see you on the road. We are going to be in Spring, Texas this weekend, and then Aiken, South Carolina. Both of those locations have some spots left, so dive in. If you want to learn more about how we manage common knee conditions like knee OA, meniscal, patellofemoral pain syndrome, patellar tendinopathy, iliotibial band pain, we’d love to share what best practice looks like in that area. And we also cover the hip, ankle, foot, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, and best practices for dosage and tendinopathy. I will be on the road next weekend in Victor, New York. So if you’d love to join me, I would love to see you. And Alan will be there, our COO. So join us on the road. Check us out on ptonice.com. And if you’re not on the app, we just launched our Ice Physio app. That is a wealth of connection. So join that as well. Have a happy rest of your Thursday. Thanks for joining me this morning.

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