Your kneecap or patella covers an important area of your leg. In this area, numerous muscles from your upper and lower leg meet, giving you the ability to move your lower leg. So when focusing on stretching the muscle below the kneecap, you need to focus on many muscles. Tightness in any muscle will restrict your movement and could cause the patella to shift, causing knee pain.
You notice the importance of your knees on a daily basis, even if you don't realize it. The only time you pay attention to your knees is often when they hurt. The reason they hurt can vary, but routinely stretching the muscles that connect underneath and around your kneecap will keep your knee stable and free of tension. This involves stretching numerous leg muscles. Take a 15-minute walk or jog for five minutes to warm up your legs muscles before stretching.
The tibialis anterior muscle does not necessarily affect the movement of the knee, but it sits on your shins, directly below your knee. Stretching this muscle benefits your ankles more than your knee, but it is good to include in your leg stretches. To perform this stretch start with the tops of both feet resting on the ground, and then sit back to place your glutes on your heels. Leaning backward extends the muscles, increasing their flexibility. Hold your position for 10 seconds or more to effectively stretch the muscle.
Your quadriceps muscle runs down the front of each leg, and this big boy connects to the patellar tendon that lies below your kneecap. When your quads are tight, it applies pressure to the tendon and your patella -- your kneecap. A good stretch for your quads starts with standing upright. You then lift one leg off the ground, pull your heel to your glute with one hand and hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Make sure you keep your balance -- grab onto a chair if you need to. Keep your back straight to keep pressure on the muscle. Performing the stretch once per leg is enough of a stretch to keep the muscles limber.
The hamstring is another big muscle group that converges behind your kneecap. A tight hamstring muscle can shift your kneecap, and that hurts. Loosening this large muscle group requires a hamstring stretch. To perform a hamstring stretch, step one foot forward and one foot backward. Reach toward the toes of your front foot with your fingers. Keep your head up and lead with your chest. You will instantly feel the pull along the back of your leg. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch legs to stretch the hamstring muscle of your other leg. And remember, never stretch to the point of pain. If you feel pain, come out of the stretch.