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Exercises for knee pain

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With these easy to do exercises you can manage knee pain at home without any hassle! Painful knees are a common problem among many! Knee pain is found to affect the quality of life of an individual. Most of the cases the cause of pain is arthritic knee joints. Stiff and painful knees can further give rise to secondary problems like backache and obesity. It is advisable to exercise to keep knee joints mobile and pain free with proper exercises.



Quadriceps- This is a set of four muscles which makes up for the major chunk of the thighs in the front portion. Their major function is to extend the knee. As most of our activities are in the standing posture this group of muscles are constantly placed under tension and hence tend to weaken with the wear and tear of the knee joints. The simplest self stretch which helps relax the quadriceps is to lie on your left side with the left hand used to support and prop up your head and try to touch the heel of your right foot to your buttocks; hold in this position for 10 seconds and then slowly release and repeat 10 times thrice a day. You may use your right hand to bring your heel closer to your back. Follow the same procedure with the other leg too. The same stretch can be executed while lying on your tummy as well. 

Hamstrings – Hamstrings is a set of muscles lying at the back of your thigh and helping you flex your knees. To stretch your hamstrings simply lie on your back and bring your knees into flexion followed by cupping your hands behind your knee to help straighten it in the air. At a point beyond 30 degrees you will experience a stretch at the back of your thigh. In order to facilitate this you may use a towel hooked under your foot so as to assist the knee extension! Hold in the extended position for 10 seconds; repeat this 10 times thrice a day.  

Calf stretch- Sitting on the floor or bed with your legs extended tuck a towel around your foot and pull the foot towards you without allowing any movement along with an attempt to extend your toes as well. Hold for 10 seconds; repeat this 10 times thrice a day.This puts a stretch on the Gastronemius muscle. The other important muscle of the calf is the Soleus. To stretch the Soleus simply repeat the above action but with slight knee flexion. 




Static Quads- This is a basic easy to do exercise which one can practice anytime of the day without any assistance. Sit with your knees extended; place a towel roll under your knee and press on to it so as to tighten the muscles in the front of your thigh. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat this 10 times thrice a day. This helps in increasing blood supply to the knee joint, draining the waste and painful chemicals and hence pain relief. 

Quadriceps can be strengthened by lying on your back and raising your knee in the extended position to not more than 30 degrees. During the maneuver you can try to extend your toes to make them point towards you; this will further help in strengthening.


Static Hams- Sitting with legs extended and a towel roll under your heel try to press against it! The pressure should come from the back of your thighs in order to strengthen the Hamstrings. Another way to do this is to sit on a chair and press against the leg of the chair putting stress on the Hamstrings.

One simple way to keep the Hamstrings active and knee joint mobile is to lie on your tummy and try to touch your heel of your leg to your bottom. This must be a controlled and smooth maneuver. Hold at the end for 10 seconds and then return to the floor. Repeat 10 times thrice a day.

Calf Muscles-

This is the easiest of all the strengthening exercises! Simply stand with your feet slightly apart and hold onto something for support for example a chair or table in the front; raise your heels off the ground and stand on your toes for 5-7 seconds and lower heels down. Repeat this 10 times thrice a day.


Aerobic Activity-

When talking about exercise we have to consider the overall conditioning of one’s body as well. Knee exercises need to be combined with aerobics in order to give sustainable results. Swimming is one of the best forms of aerobic activity to enhance your endurance and also to exercise your knees. The resistance offered by water during swimming helps to build muscle strength and also makes the joints mobile. One can also walk in a pool with water up to waist level to focus on the lower limb strength and range of motion!

Cycling in the air is another great exercise for the mobility of the knees. Lie on your back and pedal in the air with your hips and knees flexed as in cycling. During this try to focus on increasing the range of the knee motion so that the flexion in each leg goes from straight and extended to almost ninety degrees.

Walking is the best form of exercise for the knees and your heart! It helps to maintain the mobility along with strength of the knees. A brisk walk helps in increasing endurance.

Written by:
Dr.Veena Salunke (B.P.Th.)
Masters In Health Administration
Date last updated: June 16, 2013