Fitness
stretches for knee pain with pictures

10 Simple Stretches That Relieve Knee Pain for Good

If you want to relieve knee pain or prevent it, this article will show you exercises that stretch and strengthen the knee joint.

The knee joint is prone to injuries since we use it in every movement and it supports our entire body weight. In fact, research shows it’s the most injured joint.

It’s worth noting that the exercises recommended in this article are for short-term knee pain. See a doctor if you have chronic knee pain.

You see, excess pressure is exerted on the knees when the muscles attached to them are weak or tight. So the exercises below will stretch and strengthen these muscles. Calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, inner thighs, and IT band, are the main muscles attached to the knees.

Once these muscles are stronger there will be less weight on the bones and the knees will be well supported.

Chances are you’re making mistakes that trigger knee pain. Here are some common causes of knee pain – inactivity, injuries, repetitive movement (cycling), high intensity exercises (hill sprints), arthritis, and excess body weight. Here are the worst exercises for knee pain.

Note that low impact exercises like swimming and walking can also alleviate knee pain. Here are the best knee strengthening and stretching exercises.

Best Stretches for Knee Pain

stretches for knee pain with pictures

 

Chair Knee Extension

This is a great exercise for strengthening the quadriceps (thigh muscles). And it strengthens the quads without putting pressure on the knees.

You only need a chair and ankle weight (optional), to perform this exercise.

How to perform

Sit on a chair, keep the back straight and the knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Place a cushion on the chair if it’s too low.

Keep the feet shoulder-width apart then slowly extend the right leg until it straightens.

Hold that position for 2 seconds then slowly lower it to starting position and repeat.

Complete reps for one leg then switch legs and do the same number of reps.

You shouldn’t feel pain when performing this exercise, if you do, stop. Adding weight on your ankle will make the exercise more rewarding.

 

Calf Stretch

Most people have tight calf muscles, and this causes knee pain. Other than relieving knee pain, stretching calf muscles will allow you to walk and run properly.

How to perform

Stand two steps from the wall – facing it. Keep one foot in front of the other.

Lean forward and place both hands on the wall. The front knee should be slightly bent and rear knee should be straight.

Keep the heels on the floor then lean forward to stretch the calf muscles of the rear foot.

Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds then switch legs.

 

Clamshell Exercise

This exercise strengthens the hips, pelvis, and thighs. Research shows that it’s one of the best exercises for relieving knee and lower back pain. It is one of the few exercises that activate the inner and outer thighs.

How to perform

Lie on one side and keep legs stacked on top of each other.

Bent both knees at a 45 degree angle and rest your head on the bottom arm.

Tighten the core then slowly lift the upper knee as high as possible and keep the heels touching each other throughout.

Return the upper leg to starting position. Complete 20 reps for one leg before switching to the other.

 

Quad Stretch

You can do this exercise standing or lying on the floor. This stretch will loosen the thighs and knee joint. Here’s how to perform it while standing.

How to perform

Stand on the right leg (hold a chair for support), then lift the left leg up behind the butt.

Grab it with the left arm then pull it as close to the butt as possible.

Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, and then switch legs.

 

Side to Side Leg Swings

This is a great exercise since it strengthens the hamstring without straining the knee. It also strengthens butt muscles and loosens the hips.

How to perform

Stand beside a wall and place one arm on the wall for support.

Lift one leg off the floor and start swing it sideways.

Start with small swings and gradually increase range of motion after every swing.

Do 2 sets for each leg, with at least 20 reps for each set.

 

Wall Sit

I consider this the best isometric lower body exercise. It strengthens the quads, hamstrings and butt muscles. Note that people with severe knee pain may not be able to perform wall sits.

How to perform

Stand one step away from a smooth wall – facing away from it.

Lean back and rest your back on the wall. Slowly slide your back down until the knees are bent on a 90 degree angle.

Hold that position as long as you can. And don’t place your hands on the thighs.

By the way, you should keep your feet a few inches apart when performing this exercise.

 

Hamstring Stretch

Did you know that tight hamstrings can cause knee pain? Well, this stretch will loosen the hamstrings and keep them healthy.

How to perform

Lie flat on your back, lift the left leg and grab it behind the thigh with both arms.

Keep the knee straight then slowly pull that leg as close to the chest as possible.

Stop pulling when you start feeling unbearable discomfort.

Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds then rest and repeat.

 

Heel Slide Knee Extension

This exercise will increase your range of motion by stretching the thigh muscles. It’s an easy exercise so you have to perform many reps to see results.

How to perform

Lie flat on your back and keep the feet straight.

Slowly slide the right heel toward the butt and don’t lift it off the floor.

Slide it as close to the butt as possible. Hold that position for 5 seconds then slide it back to starting position and repeat.

 

Butterfly Stretch

This is a great exercise for stretching the hips, groin and inner thighs. Note that the butterfly may cause discomfort for those with severe knee pain.

How to perform

Sit on the floor, bent both knees and then drop them sideways.

Bring the soles of your feet together.

Straighten your back and place your elbows on the inner thighs.

Use your elbows to press the thighs down then hold that stretch for 30 seconds.

 

Hip Flexors Stretch

Hip flexors are a group of muscles in the pelvic area, and they help keep the knee properly aligned. Unfortunately, most people have tight hip flexors due to long hours of sitting. This stretch will help loosen these muscles and relieve knee pain.

How to perform

Assume the lunge position but rest the rear knee on the floor. Rest it on a cushion or mat for comfort.

Stretch the hip of the rear foot forward and keep the torso upright.

Stretch it forward as much as you can then hold that position for 20-30 seconds.

Alternate legs and hold the stretch for the same duration.

 

Final Word

Now, you don’t have to do all these exercises. Pick three stretches for knee pain and start doing them every morning.

If you do these exercises consistently the knee pain will soon disappear. But realize that it’s best to see a physical therapist if you have severe knee pain.

Which stretches have helped you relieve knee pain?

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