Avoid Knee Joint Pain and Injury

It is important to keep leg muscles and knee joints flexible and strong. That will reduce stress on the knee and help your knee joint absorb shock. This will help you avoid joint pain and injury.

Should I do knee exercises if I am experiencing knee pain? 

Strengthening your knee joint and surrounding muscles will reduce stress on you knee. If you have been experiencing knee pain, talk with your doctor about what exercises would be appropriate for you. If you experience sharp pain while doing these exercises, stop. Resume exercises after you have talked with your doctor.

Warm Up

Warm up your muscles and knee joints by taking a quick walk or cycling. Doing so will help you perform better and reduce the risk of pain or injury.

At-Home Exercises

Straight Leg Lift. This one is a good start (or good if you are recovering from a knee injury) because it does not put as much pressure on the knee.

  1. Lying flat on your back, keep one leg bent with the foot on the floor.
  2. Raise the other leg, keeping it straight.

Do 10 – 15 repetitions on each leg. Do three sets.

Hamstring Curls

  1. Hold on to the back of a chair for support
  2. Support your weight with one leg, but keep your knee slightly bent to avoid locking your knee.
  3. Lift one foot toward your buttocks until it is at a 90 degree angle.
  4. Hold for 3 – 5 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your leg.

Repeat 10 – 15 times on each leg. Do three sets.

Calf Raises

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, bending gently at the knees.
  2. With your weight on the balls of your feet, lift yourself a few inches.
  3. Lower back down slowly until your heels touch the floor.

Do three sets of 10 – 15 repetitions.

Wall Squats

  1. Begin with your back against the wall.
  2. Step your feet out about 2 feet from the wall.
  3. Slide down the wall until your knees are (or nearly) at a 90 degree angle. Your feet should be directly below your knees.
  4. Hold for 10 – 15 seconds and slide back up the wall.

Repeat three times.

Prone Leg Lifts

  1. Lie on your front on the floor.
  2. Tighten the buttocks and quadriceps.
  3. Lift one leg and hold for 3 – 5 seconds.
  4. Slowly lower the leg.

Repeat 10 – 15 times one each side. Do three sets.

You should not feel back pain with this exercise. If you do experience back pain, limit how much you lift your leg. If the pain continues, talk to your doctor.


  1. Face a stair or small platform, standing with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Step one foot onto the step or platform.
  3. Raise the other leg and let it hang loosely. Hold for 3 seconds.
  4. Step back down.

Repeat 10 – 15 times and switch sides. Do three sets. 

SIngle Leg Dip

  1. Position yourself between two chairs (with the backs of the chairs facing you) and hold onto the chair backs for balance.
  2. Raise one leg to 45 degrees and hold.
  3. Slowly lower yourself down a few inches on your supporting leg, putting your weight into your heel.
  4. Hold 3 – 5 seconds and then straighten.

Repeat 10 – 15 times on each side. Do three sets. 

Side Leg Lifts

  1. Lie on your side with the legs stacked. Bend the bottom leg for extra support.
  2. Lift the top leg to 45 degrees and hold for 3 – 5 seconds.
  3. Slowly lower the leg down.

Repeat 10 – 15 times. Switch sides and repeat. Do three sets.

Stretch It Out

Don’t forget one of the most important parts of exercising: stretching. Stretching increases flexibility–the range of motion of joints and muscles. Not stretching can lead to injury, such as pulled muscles or over-extended joints. Do your body a favor and remember to stretch!

Quadriceps Stretch

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend one leg at he knee and bring the heel toward your buttocks.
  3. Grab onto the ankle and hold for 10 – 15 seconds.
  4. Release the leg slowly.

Repeat on the other leg.

Hamstring Stretch

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bring one knee up.
  3. Grab onto the knee with both hands and gently bring hte knee toward your chest.
  4. Hold for 10 – 15 seconds.
  5. Slowly release the leg.

Repeat on opposite leg.

Other Activities

Swimming and water aerobics are a great way to do leg day without straining your knees. Being low-impact, there is little risk of stress or injury. Strengthen your knees with these challenging yet gentle forms of exercise.

What to Watch For

When doing exercises like the wall squat and single leg dip, be sure your knee does not extend over your ankle. The knee should always be directly over the ankle. This will help you avoid knee pain and injury.

Sharp, shooting, or sudden pain is an indicator you should stop doing the exercise.  Always talk to your doctor if you experience consistent knee pain or have questions about what exercises are right for you.