The Best Exercises for Knee Pain

by | Read time: 5 minutes

If knee pain is preventing you from enjoying exercise or interferes with enjoying your life because you avoid stairs or long walks, it’s time to get to the bottom of it. Joint pain is not an inevitable part of aging. It can be prevented and treated with the correct methods.

Getting back to exercise and active living is possible with knee pain—in fact, movement and strength training are vital for prevention and treatment. Here are some common causes of knee pain and what you can do to feel better.

Side-Torso View of Woman Holding Leg Doing Exercises for Knee Pain Beside Staircase |

What causes knee pain?

Knee pain can be caused by injuries, medical conditions like arthritis and inflammation, or can be due to weak hip muscles or poor ankle mobility. Whatever the cause of your knee pain, it’s wise to seek medical attention.


Ligament damage due to an injury can lead to knee pain. Tearing a ligament such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a common reason people experience knee pain. This injury occurs most often when you make a sudden movement to change direction.

Injuries to the connective tissue of the knee, such as the meniscus, can cause knee pain. This connective tissue can become damaged when your joints don’t track properly.

Fractures are serious injuries that can be very painful and lead to breaks. Fractures can happen due to a sudden injury like a fall or can occur when bones become weak. Weak bones are commonly caused by osteoporosis.

Poor ankle mobility

If your ankles are tight and inflexible, knee pain can result. Your feet might turn out to compensate for lack of mobility when you are squatting down, lunging, or moving about in your daily life. His can lead to your knees collapsing inward, causing damage and pain.

Hip weakness

If you have weak hip muscles, your knees could collapse inward during activities such as running or squatting. The hip muscles provide stability through the lower body and when these muscles are weakened due to inactivity or a lot of time spent sitting, you can end up with knee pain.

Something called your iliotibial band, which runs from your hips to your knees, can also lead to knee pain when it becomes tight. Iliotibial band syndrome means your IT band is tight and rubs against your thigh bone, leading to knee pain. Many runners experience this syndrome.

How to relieve knee pain

The best way to address knee pain is to prevent the causes. Strength training and a proper diet are vital for strong bones. Exercise can help keep your muscles strong and ligaments pliable. However, if you are here, you are likely already experiencing knee pain. Here are some ways to help address your pain so you can get back to feeling better.

Exercises for knee pain

Exercises that will help your knee pain include ones that offer relief and ones that will strengthen and fix weak or immobile areas to banish the cause of your pain and prevent it from coming back.

IT band stretch

  1. Stand beside a wall or chair you can hold for balance.
  2. Cross your outside leg over the ankle of the leg nearest the wall.
  3. Extend your outside arm overhead, reaching toward the wall. You’ll feel a nice stretch along your outer hip and torso.
  4. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Turn around to switch sides and repeat the movement.

Hamstring stretch

  • Sit on the floor with your back tall, legs extended out in front of you. Keep your feet in a natural position without pointing your toes or flexing your feet.
  • With your hands on the floor by your sides, slide them forward toward your feet. Keep your back straight, and don’t go past your comfort level. Lean forward from your hips, and don’t arch your back.
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Quadriceps stretch

  1. Stand beside a wall or chair you can hold for balance.
  2. Lift one foot behind you, bringing your heel toward your bottom. Keep your knees close to one another without arching your back.
  3. Hold your ankle with the hand from the same side and pull your heel closer to you. You can also press your hips forward to increase the stretch.
  4. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Glute bridge

  1. Lay on the floor on your back with your knees bent, feet towards your hips.
  2. Engage your core with a flat back and press into the floor with your feet.
  3. Raise your hips off the floor until there is a straight line from your knees to your neck.
  4. Squeeze your glutes for one count. Do not allow your hips to sag.
  5. Slowly lower your hips back to the ground and repeat for 10 repetitions.

Hip extensions

  1. Place a loop band around your ankles if using (otherwise, do this with bodyweight). Lean against a wall or chair for balance if you need to.
  2. Stand tall with your back straight and core engaged.
  3. Place your weight on your left foot, lean forward slightly and raise your right foot upward behind you.
  4. Pause to squeeze your glute muscle for a count of one.
  5. Lower your leg back down but do not rest it on the floor. Repeat the movement.
  6. Complete 15 to 20 repetitions before switching sides.

Warrior I

  1. Stand tall, exhale and step your left foot 3 to 4 feet behind you. Keep your heels in line with each other.
  2. Point your left foot 45 degrees out to the left while your torso faces forward.
  3. Inhale and stretch your arms toward the ceiling, palms facing in.
  4. Exhale and bend your right knee until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Position your knee over your ankle.
  5. Hold this pose while you slowly inhale and exhale for 5 breaths.
  6. Inhale and straighten your leg, then exhale and step your feet together.
  7. Lower your arms and switch sides.

Supplements to help support healthy joints

While supplements may not help with every cause or type of knee pain, some might help support joint health, fight inflammation in the body, or strengthen the connective tissues. Speak to your doctor before trying any supplements.

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