Are you among the 25% of American adults who struggle with chronic knee pain according to the Administration for Community Living? Often, this issue results from arthritis, overuse, injury, or stress on the joint.
Physical activities that stretch and strengthen the knee often alleviate stiffness and discomfort. You can also build surrounding muscles to remove pressure from the joint. Educate yourself on these six exercises for knee pain that can potentially provide relief. Always warm up with 15 to 20 minutes of walking, cycling or another type of low-impact cardio before you start.
For this basic leg-strengthening exercise:
- Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Shift your weight to the balls of your feet, raising both heels off the ground.
- Lower your heels back to the ground slowly in a controlled motion.
- Repeat for three sets of 10 reps each.
Bolster these muscles behind the thigh with this simple stretching exercise:
- Lay face-down on a yoga mat or blanket.
- Bend your heels toward your backside and hold as long as you can.
- Perform three sets, each with 15 reps.
If the hamstring curl starts to feel too easy, try adding light ankle weights to (gently) amp up the intensity.
For this exercise, lay flat on your back with a blanket or yoga mat for comfort, then follow these steps:
- Bend the right leg at the knee, moving your heel toward your rear and keeping your left leg straight.
- Draw in your abs by pretending an invisible string running from the floor is pulling your belly straight down. Your lower back should be flush with the floor.
- Slowly lift the left leg off the ground, still straight. Keep the foot flexed. Stop at about 12 inches and hold the pose for 5 seconds.
- Lower the leg back to the floor with a slow, controlled movement.
- Repeat twice more with the left leg, then do the same with the right leg.
This standing stretch benefits the knee joint. Start with feet shoulder-width apart, then:
- Bend your right knee and bring your heel toward your rear just as you did with the hamstring curls.
- Clasp your right ankle with your right hand.
- Hold the stretch for a count of 10 before gently releasing your foot.
- Repeat on the left side, then do 15 to 20 more reps.
- You can increase the intensity by using a yoga strap to carefully deepen the stretch.
You can use a staircase in your home or an exercise step to work out your glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps:
- Step up with your right foot, letting your left foot fall behind the stair.
- Shift your weight to your right foot and hold for about 5 seconds.
- Lower the left foot back down to the floor, followed by the right.
- Repeat with the left foot and then complete 10 to 15 sets of both legs.
For this move, place your back against a wall and feet in alignment with your shoulders, then follow these steps:
- Bend your knees slowly while keeping your pelvis and back flush with the wall.
- Hold the squat for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Repeat, holding a bit longer each time.
- Stop or relax if you feel discomfort or pressure in the knee joint.
Some sources of knee pain won't resolve with exercise alone. See your healthcare provider if you experience joint pain accompanied by a fever, redness and swelling around the joint, pain that doesn't get better with exercise and self-care, or pain that wakes you at night or worsens with activity.