Knee pain can be caused by a number of different things but whatever the reason, it doesn’t mean that you have to suffer. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best stretches to help ease your pain.
Wall calf stretch
This is one of the easiest stretches you can do, mainly because it doesn’t require any equipment other than a wall. If your calves are tight, this can put pressure on the back of your knee and feet and spur on injuries like plantar fasciitis. For this stretch, all that you need to do is stand in front of a wall with one leg straight behind you and the other in front of you slightly bent. Then, place your hands on the wall and push against it, keeping your back leg straight and your heel planted on the floor. If you do this correctly, you should be able to feel a stretch in the calf on your back leg. If you need to, switch sides and repeat.
Foam roller quad stretch
Tight quads can also play a role in knee pain because they can become short from long periods of sitting. Using a foam roller is one of the best ways to get these muscles in tip top shape. Lie face down and put your foam roller under one of your legs, directly underneath your quad. As you start to put the majority of your body weight on the roller, begin to roll slowly both up and down and from side to side. For best results, do this for at least five minutes, but of course, this all depends on your pain threshold!
No equipment at all is needed for this one – just you and your body. This stretch works to help your adductors, the muscles on the outside of your thighs that stabilize your hips. If these are tight, it can cause instability in your hips, which will ultimately start to affect your knees. To stretch them out, lunge to one side while bending the knee and keeping the opposite leg straight. It’s best to keep your straight leg on the floor but if you need to regain some balance, place your fingertips on the floor in front of you.
Wall hamstring stretch
Hamstring tension is one of the leading causes of knee pain, so it’s important to keep your own hamstrings flexible. For this stretch, it's best to be near a wall or a table, but if not, you can always use a resistance band. Lie face up with one of your legs flat on the ground, your foot flexed. Then, prop your other leg on a wall or a table or use your resistance band to stretch. Find the deepest part of the stretch and alternate in five-second sequences between contracting and relaxing the foot you have raised.
Straight leg raise
If your knee pain is unbearable, this stretch will put little to no pressure on it while still being beneficial. Lie on the floor with one knee bent and the other leg on the ground in front of you. Then, lift your straight leg up approximately one foot rotating your leg outward. Make sure your entire leg rotates, with your toes pointing at a diagonal rather than straight upwards. This will strengthen your quadriceps too, and as you get stronger, you can even add ankle weights.
Half-kneel hip and quad stretch
This stretch works great for the muscles of your hips and your quads. All you need to do is kneel on one knee (place down a mat or a towel for more comfort) with your other foot planted on the ground in front of you. Then make a 90-degree angle with your legs, lean forward towards your front leg and stretch the front of your hip downward. Grab the ankle of the leg planted on the ground and pull it towards your rear to stretch your hamstring and hip from the front leg to the knee. You can move in and out a few times to ease tightness.
If you have a painful knee, going up and down stairs will probably be the last thing you want to do, but it can actually help to relieve your pain if you know how. This effective stretch can be done by simply walking up and down stairs, repeating until you’re short of breath. As you improve, try to increase both the number of steps you do and the height of each step.
Figure four glute stretch
Figure four might sound like a complicated yoga pose, but actually, it’s a relatively simple stretch that can help with your knees. This stretch eases pressure on your glutes and can be done by lying on your back, crossing your left foot over your right quad and bending your knee right. As you hold the back of your right leg, gently pull it towards your chest and when you feel as though it is stretching, hold it for some time.
Sit with your back against a wall with both of your legs stretched out in front of you. Then as you keep your foot on the floor, slowly bend one knee until you feel it is comfortably stretched. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds for the best results before straightening your leg as far as you can and holding it again. Repeating this 10 times on each leg should ease any discomfort you may be feeling in your knees.
Sit/stand with chair
This one is simple. Sit on a chair and without using your hands for support, stand up and sit back down. The trick here is to make sure each movement is slow and controlled and as you improve, try to increase the number of sits and stands you do in one minute. You can also try this stretch from a lower chair or even the bottom two steps of a staircase to achieve an optimum stretch.
One of the best things you can do to improve your knee health is to maintain an active lifestyle. If you want to keep fit but are struggling with knee pain, low-impact exercises such as swimming, brisk walking or cycling are recommended, but you should remember that before any exercise, it’s vital to always stretch your joints and muscles appropriately.