Exercises for Tightness in My Knee

Tightness in the knee is sometimes referred to as "runner's knee," although it does not only happen to runners. This condition causes pain around or behind the kneecap, and can feel worse when walking or running downhill or descending stairs; you may even hear a crunching or clicking sound when you bend or extend your knee. There are several exercises you can do on a daily basis to help remedy the problem.

Several exercises can help alleviate knee tightness.
Credit: Dirima/iStock/GettyImages

Read more: Dynamic Leg Stretches

Causes of Tightness in Knee

Tightness in the knee does not usually originate in the knee itself. In fact, it is likely that the problem is due to your feet and thighs, as they may not be in proper alignment while you are moving. Since the kneecap moves in a narrow groove in your thigh bone, when your legs and feet work efficiently, your knee moves smoothly with every step.

When the kneecap is out of alignment due to weak thigh muscles or lack of foot support, the cartilage around the knee can become worn over time and cause tightness or pain. Another cause can be unstable feet making movements that cause overpronating, or rolling the foot in, or supinating, or rolling the foot outwards.

Straight Leg Lifts

Knee tightness typically results in pain around, beneath or in the front of the kneecap. Straight leg lifts strengthen the muscles that help support the knee, but without putting stress underneath the kneecap.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie flat on the floor and holding one leg up as straight as possible while the other leg is slightly bent on the floor. Hold this pose for two to three seconds and repeat with the other leg. Repeat this exercise 10 times with each leg. This exercise strengthens the quadriceps muscles and engages the muscles to support the knee.

Stretch Your Quads

Since the quadriceps muscle assists in lifting your knees, perform quadriceps stretches to avoid or relieve stiffness. Tightness in the quadriceps and knees can make it difficult for you to lift your feet off the ground.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand up straight, holding onto a stationary object for balance with one hand. Use the other hand to grasp the same-sided leg around the ankle and lift it toward your buttocks. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times. Remember to keep your back straight, and avoid letting your knee gravitate forward.

Read more: Quad and Hamstring Stretches

Do Some Quad Sets

Strengthening is vital to keep the knees loose and strong in order to avoid injury. Quad sets strengthen the muscles on the front of your thigh that control movement of your kneecap.

HOW TO DO IT: Sit flat on a table with a towel under your knee and slowly tighten the quadriceps by pushing your knee down into the towel. Put your fingers just above the knee on your quadriceps to feel the muscle tighten during contraction. Hold this position for two to three seconds, and repeat 10 times. Gradually increase the repetitions and intensity of your muscle contraction as you gain strength.

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