Exercises for the knees

Introduction

These exercises are helpful for problems and pain affecting the knees.

Remember to drink water while you're exercising and make sure you have plenty of space around you to avoid injury.

It's a good idea to start slowly and build up gradually if you're new to exercise. For more information and tips on getting started, see our About exercise page.

Get advice and support from a healthcare professional or fitness instructor if you have any concerns about starting a new exercise plan.

Straight-leg raise (sitting)

Leg raise while sitting exercise for the knees.

Sit back in your chair, with a straight back. Straighten and raise one of your legs. Hold for a slow count to 10, then slowly lower your leg. Repeat 10 times with each leg.

Muscle stretch

Leg stretch laying down exercise for the knees.

Lie down on your back with a rolled-up towel under the ankle of your leg. Bend the other leg at the knee. Use the muscles of your straight leg to push the back of your knee firmly towards the bed or the floor. Hold for a slow count of five.

Repeat at least five times with each leg. This exercise helps to prevent your knee from becoming permanently bent. Try to do this at least once a day when lying down.

Leg stretch

Leg stretch while sitting down exercise for the knees.

Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Slowly bend one knee up towards your chest, sliding your foot along the floor, until you feel a stretch. Hold for five seconds. Straighten your leg as far as you can and hold this position for five seconds.

Repeat 10 times with each leg. If you can't get down onto the floor, sit on a sofa and use a board or tea tray as a surface to slide your foot along.

Straight-leg raise (lying)

Straight leg raise laying down exercise for the knees.

You can do this on the floor or lying in bed. Bend one leg at the knee. Hold your other leg straight and lift your foot just off the floor or bed. Hold for a slow count of five, then lower. Repeat five times with each leg every morning and evening.

Step ups

Step up exercise for the knees.

Step onto the bottom step of stairs with your right foot. Bring up your left foot, then step down with your right foot, followed by your left foot. Hold on to the bannister if necessary. Repeat with each leg until you can't do any more. Rest for one minute and then repeat this another two times. As you improve, use a higher step, or take two at a time.

Sit/stands

Sit stand exercise for the knees.

Sit on a chair. Without using your hands for support, stand up and then sit back down. Make sure each movement is slow and controlled. Repeat until you can't do any more. Rest for one minute then repeat another two times. If the chair is too low, start with rising from a cushion on the seat and remove when you don't need it anymore.

Quads exercise with roll

Quad stretch with a roll exercise for the knees.

Sit on the floor, sofa or bed, with your legs stretched straight out in front of you. Put a rolled-up towel under one knee. Push down on the towel as if straightening your knee. Pull your toes and foot towards you, so that you feel your calf muscles stretch, and so that your heel lifts off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds. Do this 10 times, then repeat the exercise with the other leg.

Leg cross

Leg cross-over exercise for the knees.

Sit on the edge of a table, seat or bed and cross your ankles. Push your front leg backwards and back leg forwards against each other until your thigh muscles become tense. Hold this for as long as you can, then relax. Rest for one minute and then repeat another two times. Switch legs and repeat.