The Method

Why Physical Therapists Love The Bar Method for Patients with Knee Pain

August 12, 2018

Whether you’re active or not, you’ve most likely experienced some sort of knee pain in your lifetime. The knee joint is a surprisingly complex joint in our body, and supports almost the entire weight of the body. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that knee pain (for various reasons) is one of the most common complaints physical therapists see in their offices. If you’ve been to physical therapy (PT), then you know the work doesn’t end there. More often than not, you’ll be prescribed a post-rehab program that requires you to perform repetitive exercises on your own, outside of your office visit. Like anything, consistency is the key to rehabilitation. However, we all know how difficult it is to comply with your therapist’s direction when there are so many other distractions vying for our attention. This is where The Bar Method comes in! The Bar Method is the only barre fitness program developed under the guidance of physical therapists to ensure it’s safe, effective, and sustainable for life. We asked Elyse Quartini, MS, DPT, OCS of Elysian Physical Therapy in San Diego, CA why she prefers The Bar Method for her patients with knee pain. Here’s what she had to say:

Thigh Work:

The Bar Method thigh exercises are the foundation of our classes. The intense, isometric pliés are tremendously effective in strengthening the quadriceps and calves, two of the muscle groups that attach to the knees, and provide stability. Many people have heard of  “Jumper’s knee” which is an injury to the patellar tendon and/or fat pad below the patella (kneecap). There’s pain with descending stairs or hills, running and jumping. Elyse says, one of the ways she treats this condition, is with a decline squat. A decline squat is when you bend your knees while standing on the balls of your feet. Sound familiar? Not only does this exercise properly load the quadriceps, it loads the tendon in the appropriate way to restore the collagen and rebuild the tendon strength.

Seat Work:

The Bar Method is known for its “seat work,” a series of exercises in different positions that target the glutes and hamstrings. Students love the results of a round, lifted seat and lean, tapered legs. However, what they might not realize is these exercises are also contributing to better knee stability. Elyse says, “The glutes are the basis of your core strength, and many people I see have never been taught how to properly activate them. They are a large muscle group that attach to the hips and pelvis, which also control the knee. When your glutes are weak, it can cause abnormal forces through the knee joint, resulting in pain and discomfort. The Bar Method is truly effective in teaching students how to fire their glutes and strengthen their hamstrings (the long cordlike muscles that run down the backs of the knees). The focus that The Bar Method gives to the balance of strength and the precise activation of muscle groups is unique to their classes versus any others I’ve seen. This balance is the key to good knee stability.”


Good alignment supports proper knee function, and The Bar Method pays special attention to alignment from the beginning of class to the very last beat of music. Here’s what Elyse had to say about the importance of alignment-work for her patients with knee issues. “I know that my patients are in good hands when I send them to The Bar Method because of the specific adjustments and follow through by the instructors. It’s essential in this type of group class. Barre class is challenging and unfamiliar to most people. Without special attention to alignment and form, it’s easy to perform the exercises incorrectly. I’m very particular about where I send patients. It has to be good and safe.”

Our founder, Burr Leonard worked side-by-side with a team of physical therapists from the beginning, to make The Bar Method safer for the joints and more effective in targeting the muscles most responsible for changing the body. This article is the first in a series of how The Bar Method can help students with different physical limitations most commonly seen by Physical Therapists. In the next article, we review the importance of core strengthening for students suffering from low back pain.

Elysian Physical Therapy
2235 Encinitas Blvd, Suite 108
Encinitas California 92024
P: 858.524.3663