10 Easy Exercises to Relieve Knee Pain

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Restore achy knees with these easy exercises you can do anywhere.

Arthritis, a previous injury, muscular imbalances and general weakness in the lower extremities are just a few of the many of causes of knee pain. People suffering from these conditions often become deterred from exercising in fear of worsening their pain, but before you throw in the towel on exercising, listen up.

Exercising can be therapeutic for knee pain, as long as you are doing the right exercises. A recent study on osteoarthritis showed that non-aerobic exercises for muscles around the knee can provide significant improvements in pain, disability, walking, stair climbing, and sit up speed. Adding exercise into your daily routine can relieve symptoms, strengthen muscles, correct imbalance, and even improve the way that the knee joint functions and moves. (1)

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Do this routine up to three times per week to strengthen your knees and correct imbalances.

Note: If you ever feel pain while exercising, stop and check with your doctor.


10 Easy Exercises to Relieve Knee Pain

Quad Sets | 10 reps per side

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This exercise teaches you how to properly engage the quadriceps, which you’ll need to do for the remaining exercises.

  1. Begin seated on the floor. Straighten your right leg out in front of you and bend your left knee, placing the foot on the floor.
  2. Flex your right foot, pressing the back of your knee towards the ground to engage your quads. It should look like your muscles are lifting away from your kneecap.
  3. Hold for five seconds, then release for five seconds.
  4. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch legs.

Straight Leg Raises | 12 reps per side

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This exercise strengthens the quads to relieve knee pain.

  1. Start by lying on your back with one knee bent so that the foot is on the ground. Straighten the other leg out in front of you and engage your abs so that your lower back is touching the ground.
  2. Engage the quadriceps muscles in the straight leg by flexing the toes back towards the shin, as described above.
  3. On an exhale, slowly lift the leg straight up towards the sky. Keep the quadriceps engaged.
  4. Inhale to lower the leg about 12 inches above the ground. Hold for a count of five, then lift the leg back up.
  5. Repeat for 12 reps, then switch sides.

Supine Leg Extensions | 10 reps per side

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This exercise strengthens the quadriceps, core, and hip flexors.

  1. Lie on your back with one knee bent so that the foot is on the ground. Engage your abs so that your lower back is touching the ground.
  2. Straighten one leg up towards the sky. Flex the foot and engage the quadriceps muscles in the straight leg by flexing the toes back towards the shin.
  3. Inhale to bend the straight leg to a 90-degree angle, then exhale to straighten the leg back out and flex the quadriceps.
  4. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch legs.

Block Step-Up | 10 reps per side

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Use a block as a low step to strengthen your quadriceps and glutes without putting excess strain on the knees.

  1. Set a yoga block vertically on ground, on its lowest height. Step your right foot up onto the block so that it is centered. Place your hands on your hips and engage your abs.
  2. Exhale to press through your right heel, straightening the leg and flexing the quadriceps. Your left foot will lift off the ground. Keep your abs engaged to help you maintain your balance.
  3. Inhale to bend your right knee and lower your left foot to the ground. Keep your right foot up on the block.
  4. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.

Side Lying Leg Raises | 10 reps per side

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This exercise strengthens the outer hips and thighs.

  1. Start by lying on one side. Use your bottom arm to support your head and place the hand of the top arm on the mat in front of you. Stack your legs and flex your feet.
  2. On an exhale, lift your top leg up towards the sky.
  3. Inhale to slowly lower your leg back down.
  4. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.

Side Lying Leg Curls | 10 reps per side

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This exercise simultaneously strengthens your outer hips and hamstrings.

  1. Continue lying on one side, with your legs stacked and feet flexed.
  2. Lift your top leg up towards the sky.
  3. Keeping your top leg lifted, exhale to bend the knee to a 90-degree angle.
  4. Inhale to straighten the leg back out and flex the quad.
  5. Repeat for 10 reps, keeping the top leg lifted the entire time, then switch sides.

Adductor Leg Raises | 10 reps per side

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This exercise strengthens the inner thighs and targets the adductor muscles.

  1. Continue lying on one side. Stagger your legs so that your bottom leg is forward and your top leg is back. Lean back slightly.
  2. Press your top palm into the floor to stabilize yourself. On an exhale, lift your bottom leg up towards the sky.
  3. Inhale to lower the leg back down.
  4. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.

Fire Hydrant Donkey Kick | 8 reps per side

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This exercise strengthens weak glutes, hamstrings, and outer hip muscles, helping to reduce and prevent knee pain.

  1. Begin on all-fours in a tabletop position. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Spread your fingers wide and press down through your palms. Engage your abs.
  2. Keep your right knee bent to a 90-degree angle as you inhale and lift your leg up and out to the side. Try and lift the knee up in line with your right hip while keeping your hips square to the ground.
  3. Keeping the leg lifted, exhale and straighten your right leg, kicking your foot out to the side. Squeeze your quadriceps. Then, bend your right knee back to 90 degrees and lower it back to a tabletop position.
  4. Repeat for 8 reps, then switch legs.

Tip: You can place a folded up blanket or towel underneath the bottom knee as a cushion for this (and the following) exercise.

Donkey Kickbacks | 10 reps per side

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This exercise strengthens your glutes and hamstrings.

  1. Begin on all-fours in a tabletop position. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Spread your fingers wide and press down through your palms.
  2. Engage your abs and lift your right leg straight back behind you so that your right ankle is in line with your right hip. Flex your foot.
  3. Keeping the foot in line with the hip, exhale to bend your knee to a 90-degree angle. Then, inhale to straighten it back out.
  4. Keep the leg lifted as you repeat for 10 reps, then lower your right knee back to the mat and switch sides.

Lateral Walking | 20 reps

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This exercise uses an exercise band to strengthen the outer hips, providing the knee joints with added support during day-to-day movements like stepping, balancing, and jogging. If you don’t have an exercise band, you can do the same movements without one.

  1. Start by stepping both feet through an exercise band and sliding it up to rest right above your knees.
  2. Stand with your feet a little bit wider than hip-width distance. Your toes should point straight ahead. Engage your abs.
  3. Take a large step to the right, then tap your left toes halfway to meet your right foot. Next, take a large step to the left, then tap your right toes half halfway to meet your left. You should feel your outer hips working against the band.
  4. Continue moving side-to-side in an alternating pattern for 20 repetitions.

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