Exercises for knee pain



Exercises for Knee Pain: Strengthening and Stretching for Relief

Knee pain can significantly impact daily activities and limit mobility. Fortunately, incorporating specific exercises into a comprehensive treatment plan can help alleviate knee pain, improve strength, and enhance flexibility. This article explores a range of exercises designed to strengthen and stretch the knee joint, promoting relief and enhancing overall knee health.

What exercises should you do to strengthen and stretch the knee joint?

Strengthening Exercises

1. Quadriceps Sets: Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Tighten the muscles at the front of your thigh (quadriceps) and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions. This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint.

2. Straight Leg Raises: Lie on your back with one leg straight and the other bent. Lift the straight leg a few inches off the ground and hold for a few seconds. Lower the leg slowly. Perform 10-15 repetitions on each leg. Straight leg raises target the quadriceps and improve knee stability.

3. Hamstring Curls: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding onto a sturdy support. Bend one knee and bring your heel toward your buttocks. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower the leg. Perform 10-15 repetitions on each leg. Hamstring curls help strengthen the muscles at the back of the thigh, supporting the knee joint.

4. Step-Ups: Stand in front of a step or stair with feet hip-width apart. Step onto the step with one foot, straighten the leg, and lift your body weight onto the step. Step back down and repeat with the other leg. Perform 10-15 repetitions on each leg. Step-ups strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles, improving overall knee stability.

Stretching Exercises

1. Quadriceps Stretch: Stand near a wall or use a chair for support. Bend one knee and bring your heel toward your buttocks, grasping your ankle with your hand. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, feeling a gentle pull in the front of your thigh. Repeat on the other leg. Quadriceps stretches improve flexibility and relieve tension in the front of the knee.

2. Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the edge of a chair and extend one leg straight in front of you. Lean forward from your hips, reaching toward your toes while keeping your back straight. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, feeling a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh. Repeat on the other leg. Hamstring stretches promote flexibility and reduce strain on the knee joint.

3. Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall for support. Step one foot back, keeping the knee straight and the heel on the ground. Lean forward slightly, feeling a stretch in the calf of the back leg. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other leg. Calf stretches help alleviate tightness in the calf muscles, which can indirectly impact knee pain.

4. IT Band Stretch: Stand upright with feet hip-width apart. Cross one leg behind the other and lean to the side, reaching your arm overhead. You should feel a stretch along the outer side of your leg. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. IT band stretches target the iliotibial band, which can be a common source of knee pain.

Exercises for knee pain

Safety Considerations

Before starting any exercise program for knee pain, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional or a physiotherapist. They can assess your specific condition and provide guidance on appropriate exercises and modifications.

Here are some general safety considerations when performing exercises for knee pain:

1. Start gradually and progress slowly, listening to your body’s response. Avoid pushing through sharp or worsening pain.

2. Maintain proper form and technique during exercises to ensure effective and safe execution.

3. Warm up before exercising by engaging in light aerobic activity to increase blood flow to the muscles.

4. Use supportive footwear and exercise on a suitable surface to reduce impact on the knees.

In addition to the exercises mentioned above, there are a few more techniques and considerations that can help individuals with knee pain:

1. Low-Impact Cardiovascular Exercises:

Engaging in low-impact cardiovascular exercises, such as swimming or using an elliptical machine, can provide cardiovascular benefits without placing excessive stress on the knees. These exercises help improve overall fitness and can aid in weight management, reducing the load on the knee joint.

2. Range of Motion Exercises:

Performing gentle range of motion exercises, such as knee bends and leg swings, can help improve the flexibility and mobility of the knee joint. These exercises should be done in a pain-free range and can be particularly helpful in reducing stiffness and improving overall knee function.

3. Balance and Proprioception Exercises:

Incorporating exercises that challenge balance and proprioception (awareness of one’s body position in space) can help improve joint stability and reduce the risk of falls. Standing on one leg, performing heel-to-toe walks, or using a balance board can all be effective in enhancing proprioception and strengthening the muscles supporting the knee joint.

4. Gradual Progression:

It is important to start with exercises that are appropriate for your current fitness level and gradually progress as your strength and endurance improve. Avoid overexertion or pushing through pain, as this can potentially worsen knee pain or cause further injury.

5. Rest and Recovery:

Allow your body adequate time to rest and recover between exercise sessions. This is essential for preventing overuse injuries and promoting proper healing.

6. Modify Activities:

If certain activities or exercises exacerbate your knee pain, it may be necessary to modify or avoid them temporarily. Listen to your body and adjust your routine accordingly to prevent further strain on the knees.

7. Seek Professional Guidance:

If you are unsure about which exercises are suitable for your specific condition or if your knee pain persists or worsens despite exercise, it is advisable to seek professional guidance from a physiotherapist or healthcare provider. They can provide a comprehensive assessment, develop an individualised exercise plan, and offer additional treatments or modalities as needed.

Exercises for knee pain

Remember, consistency and patience are key when it comes to exercising for knee pain. It may take time to see improvements, but with regular practice, proper technique, and a gradual progression, individuals can experience significant relief, improved strength, and enhanced functionality of the knee joint.


Incorporating a combination of strengthening and stretching exercises into your routine can play a crucial role in managing knee pain, improving joint stability, and enhancing overall knee health. These exercises target the muscles surrounding the knee, promoting strength, flexibility, and balance. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or a physiotherapist to ensure that the exercises are appropriate for your specific condition. By committing to a consistent exercise program, individuals can find relief from knee pain, improve their functionality, and regain their quality of life.

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