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7 Gentle Stretching Exercises For Knee Pain

Though we often think of our joints and muscles independently (i.e. my knee hurts, or my back is tight, etc.), our body is very intertwined.

Different muscle groups all work together to influence the movement of our joints.

So, when you’re experiencing knee pain, be it from overuse or improper exercise form, it’s rarely a result of just one muscle or action, but rather an accumulation of problems in several different areas of the body.

Stretching incorporates several exercises for knee pain that should help relieve pressure put on your knee joint by tightness in other parts of the body.

By stretching your calves, hips, quads, and hamstrings, you can both relieve knee pain and help prevent it.

Always remember to warm up your muscles before holding any of these stretching exercises for knee pain to avoid injury.

Calf Stretch

Calf Stretch - exercises for knee pain
Tight calves can cause your leg to roll inward which can place a lot of stress on your knees, causing pain.

Stretching out your calves can prevent that stress and can help relieve existing knee pain.

Face a wall and bend one knee with your opposite leg extended back behind you.  Place your weight on your front leg to stretch your back calf.

You can also do these using stairs.

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog - exercises for knee pain
If properly stretched calves and hamstrings have a significant impact of eliminating knee pain, then the downward facing dog is a holy grail pose.

Break out your stretching mat and open up into your hamstrings and calves.  This one is my favorite because it has a little extra padding for extra comfort.

The downward facing dog stretches both your hamstrings and your calves at once, helping you open up into those muscle groups.

Plus, it’s very gentle.  Work towards getting your heels as close to the ground, but allow your body to gradually open and never force it.

Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch - exercises for knee pain
Our hamstrings help support the knee, but when we have weak or tight hamstrings, it can make it harder for our hamstrings to activate and protect our knees.

When jumping or landing, our hamstrings are supposed to flex and protect our knee from injury.  Tight and weak muscles make this more difficult and thus, can make us more prone to injury and knee pain.

Stretching out the hamstrings can help relieve tension.  Doing hamstring strengtheners like kickbacks and hamstring extensions can help build the muscle.

Modified Half Pigeon

Modified Half Pigeon - exercises for knee pain

Half pigeon is one of the absolute best stretches for your inner and outer hips.  It can also help you open up your glutes.

That’s why it’s such a staple in yoga classes.

Still, the half pigeon can put a little strain on your knees if you’re already feeling sensitive.

Doing a modified version is a great way to get all the benefits without the risk of putting the strain on your knee joint.

There are several different ways of modifying pigeon—from using a block underneath your front leg to laying on your back in upside down pigeon.  Find the right variation for your needs here.

Runner’s Lunge

Runner’s Lunge - exercises for knee pain

This is my absolute favorite stretch for opening up the hip flexors.  Your hips affect the movement of your entire leg.  If you have tight hips, your range of motion is limited.  Remember when I said tight calves can cause the leg to roll inward?

Well, if your hip is tight and lacks the range to allow for that, it can cause opposing stress that is absorbed by the knee joint.

Not only are tight hips super uncomfortable, but they can contribute to your knee pain, and even your back pain as well.

Place a towel under the knee on your mat for extra padding.  Learn the proper form here.

Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch - exercises for knee pain

Your quadriceps affect the mobility of your knee because they connect to your hip flexors, which we’ve discussed have their own influence on your knee movements.

When your quads are tight, it makes it difficult for them to have a free range which can result in strain on your hips. Hip strain can then result in knee pain.

You see?  It’s all connected!

That’s why even though you might not think your quad is influencing your knee pain, it’s still very important to stretch that muscle group, especially given that your quad muscles are one of the largest muscle groups in the body.

Forward Fold

Forward Fold - exercises for knee pain

A forward fold is a very simple stretch for opening up your hamstrings and stretching the glutes.

Keep your back flat and draw your abs in as you bend forward to protect your lower back.

You can do this pose standing or seated.  As long as you’re keeping your back flat and bending forward from the hips, you’ll avoid straining your knees.

It’s okay to keep a slight bend in your knees as well if your muscles are particularly tight.

Do these stretching exercises for knee pain regularly and help open up your joints and muscles to prevent pressure, injury, and discomfort.

Can’t get enough? Don’t miss 12 stretching routines to rehabilitate your body.

7 gentle stretching exercises

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