Best 5 Exercises to Reduce your Knee Pain

Knee pain is a common compliant that can affect people of all ages and activity levels. Most knee pain will resolve with gentle exercise, rest, and does not require an X-ray or scan. Causes of knee pain can be varied and may include injury osteoarthritis, bone fractures, muscle imbalances, strains/tears on ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscles. These factors can lead to increase pressure on the knee joint and reduce its function.

Symptoms of knee pain can vary depending on the cause, it may include pain, swelling, stiffness, weakness, or instability. In some instances, a painful popping or clicking sensation when moving the knee might be present.

The knee joint consists of your thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia), both ends of these bones are covered by a layer of cartilage. This cartilage acts as a shock absorber and helps to lubricate the knee joint for smooth movement. The knee joint is held together by 4 strong ligaments within and alongside the knee capsule. The kneecap sits in front of these two bones and acts as a fulcrum for the knee during moving. The thigh muscles quadricep and ham strings provide the knee with extension and flexion movement of the knee and are anchored by tendons. These structures provide stability to the knee joint allowing for efficient movement.

Knee pain can be caused by various factors, including:

This affects the smooth movement of the joint cartilage surfaces. This condition is also referred to as degenerative joint disease or wear and tear, and commonly causes pain and stiffness at the front and sides of the knee.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome
Another common cause of knee pain in young adults it can be triggered by weakness and tightness in muscles such as the thighs, buttocks, and hamstrings (back of the thigh). It can lead to poor tracking of the knee cap and pain is typically felt in the front of the knee, including around and behind the kneecap.

Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons that connect muscles to bones. This can occur above (quadricep tendinitis) or below the knee cap (patella tendonitis) It can cause pain and tenderness in the knee, especially during activity.

Meniscus tear
A meniscus tear is a tear in the cartilage that cushions the knee joint. It can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the knee. Can be degenerative (related to ageing) or acute (related to trauma or impact, e.g. in football).

Ligament injuries
Ligament injuries, such as a tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial collateral ligament (MCL), can cause pain, swelling, and instability in the knee. These are always acute injuries, as it requires a certain degree of trauma to rupture a ligament).

Bursitis is inflammation of the small sacs of fluid that cushion the joints, known as bursae. Inflammation of the bursae in the knee can cause pain and tenderness.

Treatment for knee pain depends on the underlying cases and the severity of pain/injury. Mild pain/injury may respond to conservative treatment such as protection, optimal loading, ice, compression, and elevation. Over the counter medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can help with symptoms of swelling and pain, although at Surrey Physio we often recommend an ice pack.

If your knee pain does not respond to conservative treatment, it could be due to an underlying issue, further treatment might be necessary. These treatments involve physiotherapy to help strengthen the muscles around the knee, corticosteroid injections to help with inflammation and pain, or in some cases surgery.

Prevention of knee pain involves taking steps to avoid injury to the knee joint, such as wearing proper footwear for your particular sport or activity, and protective gear during sports or other physical activities. Engaging in physical activity to strengthen and mobilise the knee joint is a good way to keep your knee healthy. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular exercise can also help to improve overall knee health.

At Surrey Physio we examine and treat patients that experience knee pain daily. We conduct assessments and provide tailored exercise programs and treatment to insure you return to what you love doing. If you experience knee pain it is important you see us in clinic to determine the underlying causes and receive the appropriate treatment. Ignoring persistent knee pain can lead to further complications and long-term pain.

We have developed 5 top exercises for knee pain, please give them a try.

Quadriceps stretch

Pull your foot towards your bottom. If you are unsteady on your feet, make sure you hold on to something sturdy next to you like a wall or a table. You will feel a stretch to the quadricep muscles at the front of your thigh.

Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times.

Hamstring Stretch

Sitting down on the edge of a chair, straighten one leg in front of you. Keeping your back straight, gently lean forwards with your hands along the front of your thigh. You should feel a stretch behind the back of the leg and the calf. Hold this stretch for the required time.

Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times.

Leg press double leg

Sit on a leg press machine, with your feet facing upwards (your therapist might ask you to turn your feet either facing outwards or inwards depending on a particular muscle group to be worked), and slowly straighten your legs. When your legs are fully straight, return to the start position. This exercise predominantly strengthens the quadricep muscle group (at the front of your thigh).

Try 3 sets of 12 reps

Sit-down squat with ball

Place a medicine ball between your knees. Stand in front of a chair, and slowly bend your knees. Maintain a good curve in your lower back, and control sitting down onto a chair. To stand up, do the opposite. Maintain a good spinal curve in your lower back, and push upwards through your legs to straighten your knees into a standing position. Repeat as required.

Try 3 sets of 12 reps

How to strengthen your quadriceps with a band sitting

Sit down, bend your knee, and put an exercise band around the sole of your foot. Straighten the leg against resistance. You will feel the front thigh (quadriceps) muscles working.

Try 3 sets of 12 reps.

If you are experiencing knee pain, it's important to talk to see us in clinic. At Surrey Physio we can help diagnose the cause of your pain and recommend appropriate treatment options. With the right care, most people with knee pain can recover fully and return to their normal activities.

(Therapists reading this page, these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises If you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).