Knee Pain Exercises

Knee pain can be caused by many different things. These causes include: muscular injuries; ligamentous injuries; cartilage tears; bone problems; fractures; and arthritic changes.

A common cause of knee pain is poor biomechanics, which are the body's movement patterns when completing daily activities, such as walking. Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping active can help in relieving symptoms.

The following exercises are recommended to help reduce pain, increase range of movement and strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and prevent future problems. Should your pain increase while completing the exercises, stop immediately and seek advice from your doctor.

Should your symptoms not ease after two weeks of completing these exercises, a physiotherapy assessment may be required. Once your symptoms are controlled it's worth getting into the habit of doing them once or twice a day to reduce the risk of symptoms coming back.

a) Knee flexion/extension sitting on the floor

Knee pain exercises - range of movement
  • Sitting with your legs straight out in front of you, support your back if necessary.
  • Slide one heel towards your bottom and hug the knee towards the chest.
  • Straighten leg back out to the starting position.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times on each leg, twice daily.

b) Knee flexion/extension sitting

  • An alternative to 1a), should you struggle getting on and off the floor.
  • Sit upright in your chair with both feet planted on the floor.
  • Start by straightening one knee out as far as possible and, in a slow controlled movement, bend it back down and as far under the chair as possible.
  • Repeat this movement 16 times on each leg, twice daily.

a) Quad stretch

  • Stand with your hands supported on the back of a chair.
  • Bend one knee and bring your foot towards your bottom.
  • Hook your hand around your ankle and pull the ankle closer towards your bottom to feel a stretch in the thigh muscle at the front of the leg.
  • Be sure to keep the knees touching.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds; repeat three times on each side, twice.

b) Hip flexor stretch

  • Start in a kneeling position.
  • Bring your right leg forward while keeping the left knee on the floor behind.
  • Place your hands on to your right thigh for support.
  • Lean your body weight forward to feel a stretch in the left hip flexor (the top of the quad muscle).
  • To increase this stretch, lean your body weight further forward.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds; repeat three times on each side, twice daily.

c) Hamstring stretch

Knee pain exercises - hamstring stretch
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • Interlock the fingers behind one of your thighs.
  • Hug that leg towards the chest, stopping at 90°.
  • Straighten the knee as far as you feel comfortable, feeling a stretch in the hamstring muscle (the big muscle at the back of the thigh).
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds; repeat three times on each side, twice daily.
  • To increase this stretch, walk your hands up towards your foot.

a) Isometric quads

  • This a simple but very effective exercise for people with very weak quads (particularly after surgery).
  • Sitting on the floor, support your back and position your legs straight in front of you.
  • Start by pushing one knee down into the ground, feeling the quad (thigh) muscle activate.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times on each leg, twice daily.

Inner range quads

Knee pain exercises - inner range quads
  • Start sitting on the floor, support your back and position your legs straight in front of you.
  • Place a rolled-up hand towel underneath one knee.
  • Point your foot to the ceiling before pushing your knee down into the towel. You should feel your heel lift off the floor.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 16 times on each leg, twice daily.

b) Straight leg raise

Knee pain exercises - straight leg raise
  • A progression from the exercises above.
  • Sitting on the floor, support your back and position your legs straight in front of you.
  • Turn your foot outwards, push your knee down into the floor before lifting your leg off the ground 4-6 inches.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times on each leg, twice daily.

c) Sit to stand

Knee pain exercises - sit to stand
  • Sitting on a chair.
  • Without using your hands for support stand up from the chair and then sit back down again in a slow and controlled movement.
  • Complete this exercise 16 times.
  • As you improve, increase the number of repetitions gradually up to 50; you can also try this exercise from a lower chair.

d) Wall squat

  • Stand with your back to the wall.
  • Place your feet shoulder distance apart and away from the wall.
  • Slowly slide your hands down the wall as you lower your body into a squat position.
  • Do not allow the knees to buckle in, by keeping the knees directly over the middle toes.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times, twice daily.
  • If you do not have access to a wall, you can complete a standing squat, ensuring your knees stay in line with your middle toes, your weight is distributed back through your heels and your chest remains proud and open. If you get an increase in knee pain, you should stop and seek professional advice.

Now read about Pain Control in Palliative Care

Did you find this information useful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Why not subcribe to the newsletter?

We would love to hear your feedback!



Author:
Lilly Sabri
Peer Reviewer:
Charlene O'Leary
Document ID:
29104 (v2)
Last Checked:
25 September 2015
Next Review:
24 September 2018

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.