5 Crucial Exercises for Knee Pain

exercises for knee pain

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Before we get into our favorite exercises for knee pain, let’s start by talking about the knee itself.

The knee is a joint that flexes and extends to lift and lower your body. The key to lessening knee pain (unless of course you have a tear or ligament injury) is to strengthen the muscles that influence the bend of your knee: your quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

The following 5 exercises for knee pain will focus on those muscles.

If you do experience knee instability or pain while completing strength exercises, using a knee sleeve has helped many people be able to complete their workout. Knee compression sleeves act as a sort of a hug, holding everything together, giving you some compression to improve your circulation, and giving you a feeling of security.

When you use any kind of knee sleeve, you’ll want to make sure it fits right; if it’s too tight, you’ll actually cut off circulation, and if it’s too loose, it’s just going to slide around. It’s important to note that compression sleeves are not braces and don’t fully stabilize your knee. These sleeves are best for people who experience arthritis, as opposed to a ligament injury.

With that being said, let’s get into our favorite exercises that reduce knee pain.


5 Best Exercises for Knee Pain


#1 Short Arc Quad


For this exercise, you’re going to sit on the ground with a foam roller beneath your knees. If you don’t have a foam roller, you can use a big beach towel or blanket rolled into a log–something where you’re able to create a natural angle beneath your knees.

From this position, you’ll flex your quad and lift your lower leg only to create a straight line from your hip to your heel. This motion extends your knee and strengthens your quad, creating an arc from your knee to your heel.

Repeat this exercise 3 times for 10 repetitions on each leg.

To activate even more muscles, pull your toes toward you when your leg is extended.


#2 Bridges


This exercise for knee pain not only works the hamstrings, but also works the glutes, two of the muscles necessary for strengthening your knees.

Start by lying on your back with your knees bent at a comfortable angle. Transferring your weight to your feet, lift your pelvis off the ground to make a straight line from your upper back to your knees (a bridge). Make sure to lift and lower your hips to and from the ground in a controlled way to prevent any back injuries.

Repeat this exercise 3 times for 10 controlled repetitions.

Advanced version: from the starting position, extend one leg at the knee and hold it out while you transfer all of your weight onto the opposite foot and lift your pelvis. Complete the 10 repetitions 3 times on each foot.


#3 Long Arc Quad


This exercise for knee pain can be done while you sit at your desk or at the dinner table. No one has to know you’re working out your quads.

Sit toward the front of a chair hold on to the sides. With your knees at a 90 degree angle, slowly lift one of your lower legs straight out in front of you, creating a line from your hip to your heel. Slowly lower your foot back to its starting position.

Repeat this exercise 3 times for 10 repetitions on each leg.

Advanced version: place a resistance band around your ankles and complete the exercise. You can also use ankle weights to increase the intensity.


#4 Squat


This is a common exercise that is often completed incorrectly if the squatter doesn’t know what he or she is doing. It works out your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, so it’s great for you knees.

Start in a standing position. Push your hips back as you bend your knees into a 90 degree angle. The key is to not push your knees too far forward. When in that seated position, look down and make sure your knees are not pushed past your toes; if they are, push your hips back further and, if necessary, widen your stance.

Again, we recommend completing 3 sets of 10 repetitions. You can, of course, increase your reps as your strength increases.

Advanced version: use a resistance band around your thighs, or hold free weights or kettlebells in your hands as you complete the exercise.


#5 Side-lying Hip Abduction


This exercise works out your glutes and hips, which often control where your knee is placed, and therefore how it’s used. Increasing strength up in this area will help to control how your knees perform, too.

Start by lying on your side with your lower leg bent at the knee and hip in a comfortable position. Your upper leg should be extended naturally with the inner side of your foot resting on the ground. Now lift your upper leg up to the side to just the point where it starts to get uncomfortable, leading with your heel, not your toes. You should feel the sides of your glutes contract.

Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.

Advanced version: extend both of your legs to the side with a resistance band around your ankles or knees and complete the exercise.




Most people experience joint pain at some point in their lives, and knee pain is especially common in runners and bikers. Fortunately, with some simple exercises, this pain can drastically be reduced. Strengthening the muscles that influence the knees can help them perform at a much higher level.

Here at Flexible Workout, we try to help you create a fitness plan that fits your routine, no matter how busy. These exercises for knee pain shouldn’t take too much of your time, and don’t require equipment.

As is the case with most workouts, these exercises do require focus and commitment to your goals. Be sure to let us know if we missed one of your favorites in the comments below.


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