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10 exercises for knee pain that you should definitely try!

Knee pain is a common condition that affects over 18 million adults each year. It can have a variety of causes such as overuse, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, knee sprains and meniscus injuries. The good news is that there are several ways to treat knee pain, including stretching and strengthening exercises that work those muscles that support your knees. So these can help relieve pain, improve knee joint flexibility and reduce the risk of future injury. In this article, we will show you some of the most effective exercises for knee pain that you can do yourself at home.

Simple knee exercises to do

Simple knee exercises to do at home

If your knee pain is due to an injury, surgery or arthritis, gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can help relieve the pain while improving the range of motion of your knee joints.

Doing exercises for acute knee pain due to osteoarthritis is the last thing that may come to mind, but in fact, exercise is better for your knee than lack of exercise. If you don’t move your knee, it can stiffen, which can worsen the pain and make it harder to go about your daily activities.

Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your knee joint. Stronger muscles can reduce the stress on your knee and help your knee joint move more easily.

Before you start an exercise program for knee pain, talk to your doctor or physical therapist to make sure the exercises are safe for you. Depending on your situation, they may recommend some modifications.

Stretching exercises

do stretching exercises for knee pain at home

Before you start stretching, warm up for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Low-impact activities, such as cycling on an indoor bike trainer, walking or using a cross-trainer, are good warm-up options.

After warming up, perform the following three stretching exercises and repeat them after you’ve done the knee muscle strengthening exercises.

Try to perform these exercises for knee pain at least four to five times a week.

1. stretch the heels and calves.

exercises against knee pain while running

This stretching exercise works out the muscles in your lower leg, especially your calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus).

Here’s how to do this exercise:

  • Stand facing a wall.
  • Brace yourself against the wall with your hands and move one foot back as far as you can. The toes of both feet should point forward, the heels are flat on the floor, and the knees are slightly bent.
  • Lean toward the wall and hold the position for 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch in your calf muscles at the back of your leg.
  • Switch legs and repeat the exercise.
  • Perform this exercise twice for both legs.

2. stretch the quadriceps

exercises against knee pain while jogging


This stretch focuses on the front thigh muscle, called quadriceps. Performing this exercise can help improve the flexibility of your hip flexors and quadriceps muscles.

Here’s how to stretch your quadriceps properly:

  • Stand next to a wall or support yourself with a chair. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend one knee so that your foot goes up toward your butt.
  • Grasp your ankle and gently pull it toward your butt as far as you can.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and switch legs.
  • Repeat the exercise 2 times on each side.

3. stretch the hamstring for knee pain

exercises against knee pain hamstring stretching

This exercise stretches the hamstrings, which are the muscles at the back of the thigh. You should feel this stretch in the back of your leg and up to the base of your buttocks. When you flex your foot, you can also feel the stretch in your calves.

How to do it:

  • For this stretch, you can use a mat to cushion your back.
    Lie on the floor or mat and stretch both legs through. If it is more comfortable, you can also bend both knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift one leg off the floor.
  • Place your hands behind the thigh, but below the knee, and gently pull the knee toward your chest until you feel a slight stretch. This should not be painful.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Lower down and switch legs.
  • Repeat 2 times on each side.

Strengthening exercises

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, you can reduce the stress on your knee by regularly exercising the muscles around your knee. To strengthen your knees, focus on exercises that work your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and hips.

4. half squat

exercises for knee pain


The half squat is a great way to strengthen your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings without stressing your knees.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Place your feet straight and pelvic-width apart. Brace your hands on your hips or extend your arms out in front of you for better balance.
  • Tilt your hips by pushing your pelvis back. Then slightly bend your knees and squat a little. This is halfway to a full squat.
  • Pause for a few seconds and then stand up by pressing into your heels.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions each.

5. heel lift

heel lift exercise standing strengthens calf muscles

This exercise strengthens the back of the lower legs, so it also strengthens the calf muscles.

Here’s how to do the exercise:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can hold onto the back of a chair for safe execution.
  • Lift both heels off the floor so that you are standing on the balls of your feet.
  • Slowly lower your heels to the starting position. Control is important in this exercise to strengthen the calf muscles.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

6. hamstring curl

exercises for knee pain standing

The hamstring curl while standing trains the hamstrings and glutes. It also requires good core strength to keep the upper body and hips stable.

How to do it:

  • Stand facing a wall or brace yourself against a chair. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
  • Lift one foot, bend the knee and lift the heel toward the ceiling. Walk as far back as you can, keeping your upper body still and your hips facing forward.
  • Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Relax and return to the starting position.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions per leg.

7. leg extension

exercises against knee pain sitting

By using your own body weight instead of weights, you take additional pressure off your knees.

Here’s how to perform this exercise:

  • Sit upright on a chair.
  • Place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  • Look straight ahead, tense your thigh muscles, and extend one leg as high as you can without lifting your buttocks off the chair.
  • Hold the position and then slowly lower the leg to the starting position.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each leg.

8. straight leg raise lying down

Exercise for quadriceps as well as hip flexors

With the straight leg raise, you will strengthen both your quadriceps and hip flexors. When you flex your foot at the end of the movement, you should also feel tension in your shin (the front of the two bones of the lower leg).

If you find this exercise easier, you can add a 2 kg ankle weight and gradually work your way up to a heavy weight as you build strength in your legs.

Here’s how to perform this exercise:

  • A mat would be useful for this exercise to protect your back.
  • Lie on the floor with one leg bent and one leg extended.
  • Tighten the quadriceps of the extended leg and slowly lift it off the floor until it is level with the bent knee.
  • Hold the position for 5 seconds and then lower the leg to the starting position.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each leg.

9. lateral leg raise

lateral leg raising exercises your hip abduction muscles as well as your gluteal muscles

This exercise trains both the hip abductors and the gluteal muscles. The hip abductors, located on the outside of the hip, help stabilize the body when squatting, bending and lifting. Strengthening these muscles can help prevent and treat pain in the hips and knees.

If you find this exercise easier, you can use 2-pound ankle weights and gradually work your way up to a heavier weight as you build strength in your leg muscles.

Here’s how to perform this exercise:

  • Lie with one side on the floor, both legs crossed. Place your lower hand under your head with your arm bent, and place your other hand in front of your body.
  • Slowly raise your top leg without momentum, to a maximum of a 45 degree angle to the floor. You should feel tension on the side of your hip.
  • Hold the top position for 5 seconds and then lower your leg.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each leg.

10. leg raises in prone position

Leg raises in prone position exercises hamstrings and gluteal muscles

This exercise works both the hamstrings and the gluteal muscles. If you find this exercise easier, you can use 2-pound ankle weights and gradually work your way up to a heavier weight as you strengthen your leg muscles.

Here’s how to perform this exercise:

  • Lie on your stomach on a mat and extend your legs behind you. You can rest your head on your arms.
  • Tighten the gluteal and thigh muscles of the left leg and lift the leg as high as you can without pain. Make sure your pelvic bones stay on the floor during this exercise.
  • Hold the leg in the raised position for 5 seconds.
  • Lower the leg, rest for 2 seconds, and then repeat the exercise.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions per leg.

Other types of exercises for knee pain

Yoga exercises against knee pain

Once you’ve built up enough strength and stability in your knee, consider adding low-impact exercises to your routine. These tend to put less stress on your joints than high-impact exercises like running or jumping.

Some good examples of joint-sparing exercises for knee pain include:
Yoga
Tai chi
Exercising on the cross trainer
Swimming
Indoor cycling
Water gymnastics
Nordic Walking