7 Great Stretches for Knee Pain
Fighting Knee Pain
There are many conditions that produce knee pain. Runner’s knee and osteoarthritis knee are just two examples.
That being the case, it’s often a good idea to consult a professional to identify the reason for your particular knee pain. That’s especially true if the pain’s getting worse, comes with swelling, or your knee’s making a popping sound. All of those can be signs the joint is actually injured and in need of treatment from a doctor and/or physical therapist.
But it’s possible that your knee pain originates from something less serious than that. It might simply come from tension in your hips, glutes, and legs.
The muscles in those parts of your body connect to your knees via tendons, and for that reason, if they’re tight, your knees can end up hurting. Tightness and strain in one part of the system produces strain elsewhere because everything ties and works together to help you move and support your joints in the process. It’s especially important to develop loose, strong hips since the majority of the muscles that attach to the knee start at the hip.
Stretches for Knee Pain
Here, then, are seven stretches that do an excellent job of helping your hips and other key muscles groups involved in supporting the knees. They’ll keep the muscles limber and loose, and that will reduce strain and impact on the knees.
Stretch #1: The Figure Four Stretch
- Lying on your back, cross your right foot over your left quad and bend your left knee.
- Hold the back of your left leg and gently pull it to your chest. When there’s a comfortable stretch, hold it there.
- Repeat the Figure Four Stretch on the opposite side.
The Figure Four Stretch loosens the glutes and helps them do their part of the work of making your body move. This reduces impact to the quads and pressure on the knees. In addition to reducing knee pain, the Figure Four Stretch can help with leg and back pain.
Stretch #2: The Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch
- Kneel on one knee. You want the opposing foot flat on the floor in front of you with your thigh parallel to the floor.
- Leaning forward, stretch your hip downward. Tightening your butt enables you to stretch the hip farther. So does reaching up with the arm that’s on the same side as the knee you have on the floor.
- Repeat the Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch on the other side.
The Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch loosens the hips and prevents them from overworking the quads, which in turn reduces pressure on the knees.
Stretch #3: The Calf Stretch
- Stand facing a wall with one leg in front of you and a little bent and the other leg straight out behind you.
- Plant your hands on the wall and shove. Your back leg stays straight with the heel on the floor. If you’re doing the stretch properly, the back leg is where you feel the stretch.
- Do the Calf Stretch on the other side.
If your calves are tight, they put pressure on the back of the knee that can cause knee pain. Tight calves can also put added pressure on your feet that contributes to injuries like plantar fasciitis that in turn causes pain near the heel. The Calf Stretch loosens up your calves.
Stretch #4: The Standing Hamstring Stretch
- Stand on one foot with the other in front of you, heel on the floor and toes up.
- Hinge forward at your hips and sit back a little, bending the knee of the leg you’re standing on as you do. Your other leg remains straight with the edge of your heel the only part in contact with the floor. You’ll feel the stretch in the hamstring of the straight leg
- Repeat on the opposite side.
The Standing Hamstring Stretch keeps hamstrings loose. Because they support the hips and knees, when they aren’t loose, a hamstring strain, a knee injury, and knee pain can easily result.
Stretch #5: The Side Lunge
- Lunge to one side. You’ll bend the knee on that side and straighten the other. You want the foot of the straight leg to be flat on the floor or as near to that as you can manage.
- If you aren’t sure of your balance, you can put your fingertips on the floor to steady yourself.
- You’ll feel the stretch in your inner thighs and hips.
- Repeat the Side Lunge Stretch on your other side.
The Side Lunge loosens the abductors. These are inner thigh muscles that work to stabilize the hips. When they’re tight, your pelvis and hips may not be stable, and as a result, your knees may not be, either.
Stretch #6: The Kneeling Quad Stretch
- Get on one knee with the opposite foot flat in front of you.
- Taking hold of your back foot, pull it up toward your butt.
- Repeat the Kneeling Quad Stretch on the other side.
By loosening up the quads, the Kneeling Quad Stretch reduces tension on the hips and knees.
Stretch #7: The Quad Stretch
- Lie on your side. Keeping your bottom leg straight, bend the knee of your top leg to bring your foot up by your butt.
- Take hold of the foot and pull it closer to your butt. If you’re doing the stretch properly, you’ll feel the stretching in quad. Be sure to hold your hips stable so you’re not rocking back as you perform the stretch.
- Repeat the Quad Stretch on the opposite side.
Tight quads put pressure on your kneecaps. That can produce pain that feels like it originates behind the kneecaps. The Quad Stretch relieves that source of knee pain.
Stretches for Knee Pain: General Guidelines
It’s a good idea for knee pain sufferers to do each of these stretches daily plus as a part of every workout. Hold the stretches from half a minute to a minute, depending on how tight you feel.