Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.
What you need to know about knee exercises:
Knee exercises help strengthen the muscles around your knee. Strong muscles can help reduce pain and decrease your risk of future injury. Knee exercises also help you heal after an injury or surgery. These are beginning exercises. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to see a physical therapist for more advanced exercises.
General guidelines for knee exercises:
- Start slowly. As you get stronger, you may be able to do more sets of each exercise or add weights.
- Stop if you feel pain. It is normal to feel some discomfort at first, but you should not feel pain. Tell your provider or physical therapist if you have pain while you exercise. Regular exercise will help decrease your discomfort over time.
- Do the exercises on both legs. Do this so both knees remain strong.
- Warm up before you do knee exercises. Walk or ride a stationary bike for 5 or 10 minutes to warm your muscles.
How to perform knee stretches safely:
Always stretch before you do strengthening exercises. Do these stretching exercises again after you do the strengthening exercises. Do these stretches 4 or 5 days a week, or as directed.
- Standing calf stretch: Face a wall and place both palms flat on the wall, or hold the back of a chair for balance. Keep a slight bend in your knees. Take a big step backward with one leg. Keep your other leg directly under you. Keep both heels flat and press your hips forward. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and then relax for 30 seconds. Switch legs. Repeat 2 or 3 times on each leg.
- Standing quadriceps stretch: Stand and place one hand against a wall or hold the back of a chair for balance. With your weight on one leg, bend your other leg and grab your ankle. Bring your heel toward your buttocks. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch legs. Repeat 2 or 3 times on each leg.
- Sitting hamstring stretch: Sit with both legs straight in front of you. Do not point or flex your toes. Place your palms on the floor and slide your hands forward until you feel the stretch. Do not round your back. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
How to perform knee strengthening exercises safely:
Do these exercises 4 or 5 days a week, or as directed.
- Standing half squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lean your back against a wall or hold the back of a chair for balance, if needed. Slowly sit down about 10 inches, as if you are going to sit in a chair. Your body weight should be mostly over your heels. Hold the squat for 5 seconds, then rise to a standing position. Do 3 sets of 10 squats to strengthen your buttocks and thighs.
- Standing hamstring curls: Face a wall and place both palms flat on the wall, or hold the back of a chair for balance. With your weight on one leg, lift your other foot as close to your buttocks as you can. Hold for 5 seconds and then lower your leg. Do 2 sets of 10 curls on each leg. This exercise strengthens the muscles in the back of your thigh.
- Standing calf raises: Face a wall and place both palms flat on the wall, or hold the back of a chair for balance. Stand up straight, and do not lean. Place all your weight on one leg by lifting the other foot off the floor. Raise the heel of the foot that is on the floor as high as you can and then lower it. Do 2 sets of 10 calf raises on each leg to strengthen your calf muscles.
- Straight leg lifts: Lie on your stomach with straight legs. Fold your arms in front of you and rest your head in your arms. Tighten your leg muscles and raise one leg as high as you can. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower your leg. Do 2 sets of 10 lifts on each leg to strengthen your buttocks.
- Sitting leg lifts: Sit in a chair. Slowly straighten and raise one leg. Squeeze your thigh muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Relax and return your foot to the floor. Do 2 sets of 10 lifts on each leg. This helps strengthen the muscles in the front of your thigh.
Call your doctor or physical therapist if:
- You have new pain or your pain becomes worse.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
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