Sore Muscles Behind The Knee | Causes and Treatments - ExoGun - Percussive Therapy

Sore Muscles Behind The Knee | Causes and Treatments

Whether you’re a physically active person or a professional athlete, knee injuries are a common form of physical injury.

The knee joint is one of the largest joints in your body, connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone. It is also most prone to injury; ligaments, tendons cartilage within your knee are all susceptible to wear and tear.

While some knee injuries heal by themselves, most require extensive care. If you’re looking for the best muscle soreness recovery method for your knee injuries, then stick with us.

Before revealing our recommendations to help with muscle soreness recovery, let us first understand what causes knee pain.

Table of contents:

  1. Ten Most Common Causes of Sore Muscle Behind Knee
  2. Arthritis
  3. Chondromalacia
  4. Meniscus tear
  5. Anterior cruciate ligament injury
  6. Posterior cruciate ligament injury
  7. Baker’s Cyst
  8. Gastrocnemius Tendonitis (Calf Strain)
  9. Biceps Femoris Tendonitis (Hamstring Injury
  10. Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)
  11. Patellar Subluxation (Partial Kneecap Dislocation)

Ten Most Common Causes of Sore Muscle Behind Knee 

Not all knee pain originates in the same way. Some occur due to acute stresses on your leg muscles, others due to more serious chronic conditions. Knowing some of the common causes of knee injuries will help you decide the best way to deal with them moving forward.

Injuries can occur either due to sore muscles behind the knee or due to wear and tear in the joint tissue.

sore muscles

Be sure to consult your medical practitioner for an accurate diagnosis of your knee condition.

In no particular order, here are the ten most common causes of knee pain:

1. Arthritis 

Common symptoms:

  • Cracking sounds while moving
  • joints Joint pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling

Treatment options:

  • Opiates and Medical Cannabis
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Physical Therapy

One of the more well-known causes of knee pain is arthritis.

Arthritis is a degenerative disease; the patient’s condition worsens as the disease progresses.

There are four kinds of Arthritis: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, and Psoriatic arthritis.

While there is, unfortunately, no cure for Arthritis, most of its major symptoms are fairly manageable with medical treatment options. Painkillers (Opiates and Medical Cannabis), steroid treatment, and physical therapy are the most common lines of treatment.

All forms of arthritis can cause knee pain and require professional medical care.

Also read: How to Do a Good Morning Exercise? Tips on How to Do It Properly and Safely

2. Chondromalacia


Common symptoms:

  • Buckling of knee
  • Weakness in the knee joint
  • Trouble extending the knee fully
  • Cracking upon straightening the knee

Treatment options:

  • Ice
  • Over-the-counter-pain relievers
  • Physical therapy
  • Knee surgery 

Chondromalacia occurs when the cartilage of your knee joint gets tears or collapses.

Cartilage is a flexible tissue found throughout the body. Chondromalacia occurs when the cartilage inside a joint - in this case, the knee - breaks down. This can occur due to a variety of reasons, including arthritis, aging, or just extended use.

Chondromalacia can be a painful condition. Without the cartilage for lubrication, the bones in the knee joint rub vigorously against each other.

While the pain can be managed in several ways, the only way to ultimately fix chondromalacia is through knee surgery.

3. Meniscus tear

Meniscus tear


Common symptoms:

  • Weakness in the knee
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Knee joint giving away

Treatment options:

  • Rest
  • Ice/Cold press
  • Elevation
  • Massage

A meniscus tear is another common kind of injury of the knee cartilage.

Your menisci are dual wedged-shaped pieces of cartilage that cushion both sides of your knee. They can wear down with extended use that also occurs naturally as you age.

Meniscus tears occur most commonly in athletes, often due to twisting and applying extended pressure on the knee joints. However, the elderly are also prone to meniscus tears.

Meniscus tears can often and heal naturally through rest. Massage therapy is highly recommended for meniscus tears as it can heal the natural recovery process.

If you cannot afford regular massage therapy sessions, a massage gun works just as well for both meniscus tears and muscle soreness recovery. 

4. Anterior cruciate ligament injury

 Anterior cruciate ligament injury

Common symptoms:

  • Knee pain while walking
  • Difficulty moving the knee fully
  • Swelling of the knee joints

Treatment options:

  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy

Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are caused by the stress, wear, and tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

The anterior cruciate ligament is a collection of tissue passing through your front knee joint. The thigh bone and the shinbone are both connected through the ACL. This helps provide your knee with stability and range of motion.

Tearing or twisting the ACL occurs most commonly in athletes. Particularly, those playing contact and ball sports are particularly prone to ACL injuries.

ACL injuries are easy to diagnose, as they are often accompanied by a popping sound when they occur. This is immediately followed by swelling of the knee and sharp pain whenever you walk.

If the ligament is torn completely, ACL reconstruction surgery is required to fix it. In other cases, rest and massage therapy are the preferred lines of treatment.

ACL injuries can also cause soreness of the muscle surrounding the knee. For muscle soreness recovery on the go, massage guns are always a handy option.

5. Posterior cruciate ligament injury

Posterior cruciate ligament injury vs normal knee


Common symptoms:

  • Stiffness of the knee
  • Trouble walking
  • Swelling
  • Weakness

Treatment options:

  • Ice/Cold press
  • Rest
  • Physical
  • Massage Therapy

Similar to the anterior cruciate ligament injury (ACL) is the posterior cruciate ligament injury (PCL).

The PCL is a separate band of tissue that connects your thigh and shin bones. It also provides additional cushioning and support to the knee, much like the ACL.

Unlike the ACL, however, the PCL is less prone to injuries. This is because the PCL is most often damaged by direct impact on the knee caps. Such situations do not occur often - an example of this is the knee being directly hit in a motor accident.

In other cases, simply stretching the knee joint too far can cause PCL tears. The PCL can be treated similarly to the ACL, including massage therapy - either with a professional masseuse or with a massage gun.

6. Baker’s Cyst

 Baker’s Cyst

Common symptoms:

  • Swelling behind the knee
  • Knee stiffness
  • Pain behind the knee

Treatment options:

  • Physio-therapy
  • Steroid Injections
  • Cyst drainage

Baker’s cysts are sacs filled with fluid that can form behind the knee. They are caused by an excess of synovial fluid building up in the knee.

Synovial fluid is produced naturally in your body and acts as a lubricant in your knee. An excess build-up of this fluid behind your knee can cause a cyst to form.

Baker’s cysts can sometimes heal by themselves. More often than not, however, they require medical intervention.

A more serious problem is if the cyst is caused by an underlying condition causing constant effusion, such as arthritis. In that case, it is recommended to visit a medical professional immediately.

7. Gastrocnemius Tendonitis (Calf Strain)

Gastrocnemius Tendonitis


Common symptoms:

  • Pain in the calf
  • Bruising of the calf
  • Swelling of the calf
  • Difficulty standing on toe tips

Treatment options:

  • Rest
  • Elevating the leg
  • Ice/Cold press
  • Massage Therapy

Calf muscles are important for bending the knee and unlocking its full range of motion.

The calf consists of two muscles: the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. Damage or tear to these muscles can cause Gastrocnemius Tendonitis - or calf strain.

Athletes are most at risk for calf injuries. This is particularly true of sports that require quick acceleration from a stationary to a running position. Tennis, cricket, and martial arts are some of the sports that can commonly lead to a calf strain.

The degree of pain and swelling caused by calf strain depends on the size of the tear of the calf muscles. Small muscular tears can be easily remedied by resting and elevating the leg. Deeper tears are best healed through massage therapy.

As with other injuries, a portable massage gun can offer great therapeutic benefits if a professional massage therapist cannot be accessed regularly.

8. Biceps Femoris Tendonitis (Hamstring Injury)


Biceps Femoris Tendonitis (Hamstring Injury)Common symptoms:

  • Sudden pain in the hamstring
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Weakness in the back of the leg

Treatment options:

  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy

The hamstring is one of the largest muscles in the body that provides strength for the legs. It consists of three muscles extending down to the back of the thigh.

Injuring any one of these three muscles can lead to a hamstring injury, which is commonly referred to as a “pulled hamstring”. These can immediately be identified from a sharp pain in the hamstring.

A pulled hamstring can happen when a hamstring muscle is pulled much further beyond its regular range of motion. It most commonly occurs in athletes playing sports requiring fast running, such as football, basketball, or squash.

As with calf injuries, the time required for pulled hamstrings to heal depends on the degree and extent of muscle tear. A slightly torn hamstring can heal in a few weeks, while pulled hamstrings can require months of rest to aid with muscle soreness recovery.

9. Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)

Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Kn


Common symptoms:

  • Weakness of the knee
  • Stiffness
  • Pain caused by straightening the knee

Treatment options:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
  • Rest
  • Ice/Cold press
  • Strengthening exercises

Patellar Tendonitis, commonly known as jumper’s knee, is an injury caused by tearing of the tendon.

The tendon is a cord connecting the shinbone to the kneecaps. It consists of collagen - the same as ligaments. However, ligaments connect bones, whereas tendons connect muscles and bones.

Jumper’s knee can most commonly occur playing sports that require jumping or rapidly switching directions. Volleyball, basketball, and gymnastics are all sports with a high likelihood of causing jumper’s knee.

Over time, jumping and rapidly changing directions while running can cause micro-tears in the tendon. This eventually leads to swelling of the tendons, ultimately leading to the jumper’s knee.

Rest, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), and strengthening exercises can all help with recovery from jumper’s knee.

10. Patellar Subluxation (Partial Kneecap Dislocation) 

Patellar Subluxation (Partial Kneecap Dislocation)

Common Symptoms:

  • Pain after prolonged sitting
  • Slipping of the kneecap
  • Cracking in the knee
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling

Treatment Options:

  • Rest
  • Elevation of the leg
  • Crutches, cane, or braces
  • Kneecap surgery

Patellar subluxation is a partial dislocation of the kneecaps (patella).

It affects mostly young people and athletes. Sports that require a high amount of pressure to be applied on the kneecaps can cause them to partially dislocate.

Patellar subluxation most frequently occurs in those aged from 10-20 years. After an initial injury, it is highly likely for the kneecap to be dislocated again.

There are both surgical and non-surgical means of intervention for patellar subluxation.

Non-surgical means require the use of crutches, a walking cane, braces, or specialized footwear that reduces the amount of pressure on the legs.

For more serious instances of patellar subluxation, surgical intervention may be required.

Common Solutions for Sore Muscle Behind Knee 

Deep tissue massagers

Having looked at the ten most common causes of knee injuries, one can ascertain the best methods that provide overall relief from the most common causes of knee soreness and pain.

By looking at the frequency of occurrence as viable treatment options, the best methods for providing muscle soreness recovery are as follows:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression (of muscles)
  • Elevation
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation are frequently recommended together as part of a muscle soreness recovery routine abbreviated as RICE. By using these four techniques together, you can ensure your muscles gain maximum recovery and relief from pain.

The other two most frequently recommended options are physical therapy and massage therapy.

Neither are accessible to everyone, unfortunately. Physical therapy may require extensive sessions and is not always covered by your insurance provider, whereas the cost of even a few massage therapy sessions can average in the thousands of dollars!

For a more affordable massage therapy option, a massage gun may be your best bet for helping with muscle soreness recovery.


We recommend the Exogun DreamPro for the best professional massage experience. You can get yours today for the special sale price of $159 only!

Final Thoughts

Knee injuries can happen due to a variety of reasons and can be acute or caused by chronic conditions. There are several options available to aid with muscle soreness recovery available today.

To best understand how to treat your knee and leg muscle injuries, it is important to first understand the condition causing you pain. As with any medical injury, be sure to consult with your doctor first for extended treatment options.

If you’re looking for more DIY treatment options, then both RICE and massage therapy through portable massage guns offer an attractive option for pain relief and muscle soreness recovery.