8 Best Exercises For Knee Pain Relief

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Knee is an important load-bearing joint and one of the most injury-prone ones. Knee pain persists among people of all ages and backgrounds. It has many risk factors, including degenerative diseases, overuse, infections, fractures, and even obesity.

The good news is you can treat sore knees with stretching and strengthening exercises. So, jump to the following plan as soon as your doctor gives the green signal.

knee testing

Warm-up Exercises

Warm-up is crucial for any workout success, even more so during rehabilitation. It gradually increases blood flow and oxygen supply to the muscles. Essentially, you prepare your body and mind for upcoming strenuous tasks.

A low impact, light intensity warm-up keeps exercise-induced stress and aggravation at bay.

Stationary Biking

Indoor cycling is a safe cardio exercise that fosters healthy knees by producing synovial fluid. Although typical stationary bikes work fine, a recumbent elliptical trainer is a more effective knee tuning device.

Adjust the seat so that you don’t have to push for handlebars and pedals. The primary intent here is to revive the range of motion. Thus, target slow-paced biking. A few conditions like the runner’s knee might not allow pedaling. In such a case, you can go on a brisk walk for about five minutes.


Step-up is another specimen that sneaks into most vigorous exercise plans. All you require is a slightly raised platform – be it a step bench, plyo box, or the lowest stair tread.

Ascend with your right foot forward. Bring the left one in line, touch its toe back to the floor, then rise again. Repeat the movement 10-15 times before switching the legs! You can hold weight at shoulder height for more endurance.

treadmills at gym

Stretching Exercises

Joint pain may tempt you to rest and favor drug treatment. But the lack of movement causes knee joints to stiffen, worsening the condition and recovery rate.

Gentle stretches prevent these muscles surrounding your knees from tightening. It makes them more flexible. Therefore, stretching exercises are part of every arthritis rehab program. After an invigorating warm-up session, get ready for the real work!

Glute Bridge

Sometimes, knee pain is a consequence of weakened hips. They dictate the movement of thighs. And the fragile ones put excessive strain on your knees. Bridging is a wonderful and least stressful remedy.

  • Lie on your back with bent knees as if they’re pointing towards the ceiling.
  • Align your feet with hips, and relax the arms. Also, use a neck-supporting pillow.
  • Gradually, lift your hips off the ground for a few seconds, making a bridged position.

Hamstring Curls

The simple standing leg curls activate your hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves. Lowering the leg targets quadriceps, shins, and buttocks too. You can use a chair or tabletop for support.

  • Stand with a steady torso and shoulder-width distant feet.
  • Raise the heel of one foot and bring it as close to your glutes as possible.
  • Hold no more than 5 seconds, and repeat with the second leg to complete one rep.

Hamstring Stretch

The flexible hamstrings can make or break the deal. Their tendons contact the knee joint and shinbone, supporting basic movements. You can stretch them in various ways. Make a choice or modification to the given procedure according to your ability level.

  • Find vertical support like a wall edge or couch arm.
  • Lie with one leg on the floor and another pushed straight against the support.
  • Try to retain the posture for 5-10 seconds.
standing glute stretch

Strengthening Exercises

In order to alleviate existing knee pain and its chances of recurrence, you should perform strength-building exercises. The Arthritis Foundation declares it the best way to improve pain and function in osteoarthritis that doesn’t involve drug supplements.

The steps to rebuild cartilage and revitalize muscles should be taken once tenderness subsides, nonetheless.

Suggested Reps: 10 reps, work up to three sets

Calf Raises

Calf muscles extend from the back of your knee to the ankle. They should be strong enough to bear stress without disturbing knee flexion. Remember that feeling some tension in the lower leg is normal. But sudden, shooting pain is a colossal warning sign.

  • Start with the same setup as hamstring curls with abs and shoulders pulled back.
  • Raise both heels, and stand on the balls of your feet only.
  • Release – Reset – Restart!

Wall Squats

Wall squat/sit is a next-level bodyweight isometric exercise that requires relatively stable knees. If you can’t do it properly, start with Swiss ball squats. It includes a stability ball between your back and the wall. The procedure remains the same anyway!

  • Stand with your feet naturally apart and back against a sturdy wall.
  • Slowly slide down the wall until your knees make a 90-degree angle.
  • After five seconds – stand up, stretch a bit, and start again.

Straight Leg Raises

This exercise builds upper leg muscles, ranging from hip flexors to knee extensors. As an advanced move, you can also involve shins by flexing the foot at the apex. But it’s not recommended early on. In fact, you can observe leg raises and hamstring curls on alternate days if you wish so.

  • Lie in the same position as glute bridges. But don’t bend your troubled knee this time.
  • Contract your thigh muscles, and lift the straight leg (six inches above at least).
  • Hold for three seconds. Control your breath – inhale while lifting and exhale while lowering!

A Quick Recap

  • 5-minute elliptical training
  • 15 step-ups (each leg)
  • 2×10 bridges
  • 2×10 hamstring curls (Mon, Wed, Fri)
  • 2×10 hamstring wall stretch (30-second intervals)
  • 10 reps of calf raise
  • 10 wall squats (30-second intervals) 
  • 10 straight leg raises (Tue, Thurs, Sat)
  • Post-workout recovery (light cardio, stretches, nutrition, sleep)

The Bottom Line

The infamous knee pain makes it exhausting to go about your daily activities, let alone ski or skydive. Your doctor might suggest a combination of therapy, analgesics, and diet that suits your diagnosis.

You shouldn’t part ways with stretching and strengthening exercises in any case. Tai chi, water aerobics, swimming, and running on a treadmill for bad knees are other knee-friendly fitness options.

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