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Stretches for Pain in the Knees

author image Lori Newell
I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.
Stretches for Pain in the Knees
A young woman is doing stretches in the gym. Photo Credit shironosov/iStock/Getty Images


The knee is subject to a lot of force when walking, running, playing sports, climbing stairs or lifting and carrying items for work or daily chores. Because of the complexity of the knee joint, all this force can lead to knee pain. Muscles that are tight and weak can cause knee pain or make it worse. However, before beginning any knee pain stretches, it is important to properly diagnose the cause. Certain stretches may be not be advisable in some circumstances.

Runners Stretch

Knee pain may occur because of tight muscles in the hip, thigh and calf, according to University of Illinois McKinley Health Center. To help loosen the calf and hamstring muscles try a runner's stretch. Stand facing a wall. Place the right foot forward and bend the front knee coming into a lunge position. Keep the left heel on the floor. Lunge forward until you feel the stretch up the back of the left leg. Hold for five to 10 deep breaths. To help prevent stressing the joint, make sure the front knee does not extend past the front toes. Release slowly and repeat with the other leg.

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Seated Twist

Daily stretching of the muscles around the knee can help to ease pain, according to the Family Doctor website. The hips and buttocks are two of the most important muscles that need to be strengthened and stretched to protect the knee. Sit on the floor with the legs extended straight out to the front. Keep the left leg and knee straight. Bend the right knee, and place the right foot on the floor to the outside of the left knee so the foot crosses over the left leg. Start to gently twist to the right. Place the left elbow against the outside of the right knee, and gently push against the knee to turn more. Proceed until there is a stretch in the right hip or buttocks. Hold for five to 10 deep breaths. Release slowly and repeat on the other side.

Inner Thigh Stretch

If the muscles that support knee movement become tight, a muscular imbalance may result. If this occurs, the tighter muscles can pull the knee joint out of alignment, which can contribute to knee pain. The inner thigh muscles can become tight, so along with your other exercises, it is important to stretch this area. Sit up straight and bring the soles of the feet together. Let the knees relax down toward the floor. It is not important if the knees are far from the floor. The goal is to feel a stretch in the inner thighs. Hold the feet with the hands and lean forward with a straight back until a stretch is felt in the inner thighs. Focus on bringing the chest forward and lengthening out from the hips rather than just rounding forward. Hold for five to 10 deep breaths.

Side-lying Quadriceps Stretch

The University of California at San Francisco recommends using a program of ice, heat, elevation, compression and, with a doctor's OK, stretching to help manage knee pain before considering surgery. This includes exercises to loosen the quadriceps muscles on the front top of the leg. Lie on the right side of the body on the floor. Bend the left knee, and with the left hand bring the left heel toward the buttocks. Only pull until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of the thigh. Hold for five to 10 deep breaths. Release slowly and repeat on the other side.

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