Knees are an important part of the body that helps you in accomplishing many movements like running, walking and jumping. However, constant use can damage the knees and make them unable to bear the strain and pressure exerted on them while doing these movements. However, exercise for bad knees can help in making them stronger and recover their ability to perform these tasks.

10 Best Exercises for Bad Knees

When doing any exercise for bad knees, be it aerobic activities like step aerobics or stretching or any of the following exercises, make sure that you do not bend your leg in such a manner that your knees start sticking out away from your toes. Doing this can put a great deal of undue strain on the inside part of the kneecap.

Stretch the Hamstring

Stretching the hamstring can help you in remaining flexible and can also increase your range of motion as well. Start the hamstring stretch with a 5-minute walk to warm yourself up. Now, lie down and loop a bed sheet around one of your feet. Using your hands, stretch the sheet and pull your leg straight up with it. Hold the foot in a stretched position for about 20 seconds and then lower it down. Repeat the exercise twice and then move to the other leg.


Stretch the Calf

Stretching the calf can help you in avoiding injury and can also lower your pain as well. Put your hands on a chair for support and bend your right leg. Keeping your left leg behind you, try to straighten it slowly. Now stretch your calf muscle but pushing your left heel into the ground. Hold yourself in this position for 20 seconds then repeat the exercise twice before moving to the right leg.


Squeeze the Pillow

This exercise helps in strengthening the inside part of your legs and thus provide more support for your knees. Place a pillow between your knees while lying down and squeeze it as hard as you can with your knees. Squeeze for about 5 seconds then relax. Repeat this exercise 10 times and then switch the legs. You can perform this exercise while sitting on a chair as well.


Straight Leg Raise

This is an excellent exercise for bad knees that can help you in building muscle strength, thereby supporting your weak joints. Lie down with the elbows supporting your upper body. Now, bend one of your knees with the foot on the floor and straighten your other leg. Tightening the thigh muscle in the straightened leg, raise it in the air without bending it. Keep the leg in the air for 3 seconds then lower it down. Repeat this exercise 10 times before switching the legs.


Side Leg Raise

Stand tall and put your hands on a chair for a support. Shifting your weight on the left leg, slowly lift your right leg in the air out to the side. Make sure that your leg is straight and the muscles are tensed when the leg is in the raised position. Keep the leg raised for 3 seconds and then lower it down slowly. Repeat this exercise 10 times and then move on to the left leg.


One Leg Balance

This exercise helps you in getting in and out of cars and also in bending over. Stand behind a chair without holding it and lift one of your feet in the air slowly. Try to remain balanced in this position without grabbing the chair for at least 20 seconds. Repeat this exercise twice and then switch legs.


Sit to Stand

This exercise can make standing an easier activity for you. Sit on a chair that has two pillows present on it, keeping your back straight and feet planted firmly on the ground. Using the leg muscles, stand up slowly and reach your full height. Now sit back down by slowly lowering yourself on the chair. Make sure that your bent knees don’t exceed your toes. You can perform this exercise either with your arms loose at your sides or with your arms crossed.


Step Ups

This exercise for bad knees can help you in strengthening your legs and make it easier for you to climb stairs. Place your left foot on the stairs and grab the staircase for support. Now, lift your right leg onto the step by tightening and putting weight on your left thigh. Now, lower the right leg, keeping the left leg tightened. Repeat this exercise 10 times and then switch over to the right leg.


Low-Impact Activities

You can also perform low-impact activities for strengthening your knee joints as well. These activities include swimming, biking and doing water aerobics. Water exercises are especially helpful for the knees joints as they take the weights off. Remaining active can also help you in losing weight which would take the pressure off the joints.


Walking and Swimming

Walking and swimming are both ideal forms of low-impact cardio and are among the best exercises for people with bad knees. They burn calories and do not put additional strain on the knee joints. However, keeping proper form in swimming and wearing supportive footwear in walking is important if you want to achieve the desired results from these activities. Avoid jumping from the platform while swimming and never start a walk without stretching for a bit first.

Note: When doing exercises it is important to know how to exercise with bad knees. Although exercising for thirty minutes each day is a good goal, you do not have to start exercising for thirty minutes right away. You must start with 10 minutes of exercise and see if you are having any pain, if you are not then it is safe to exercise more and achieve the thirty minute goal.

Exercises to Avoid for Bad Knees


Don’t perform those exercises that involve flexion of knees

Knee flexion can put too much pressure on the kneecap and on the bones in the knee joint as well. This extra pressure can lead to grinding of the joints and the kneecap and can also result in tendon and knee ligament damage. Examples:

  • Hurdler's stretches

  • Deep squats

  • Lunges

  • Full-arc knee extensions


Avoid doing exercises which require you to make sudden or difficult knee movements

Activities that demand agility like tennis or basketball can put undue stress on your knees so it is better to avoid them.


Exercises that require you to jump a lot should also be avoided

Since jumping can put a lot of force on your body that is equal to twice or thrice your body weight. This amount of weight on the knees can increase the chance of injury. Exercises that involve hopping or light jumping are a lot better but make sure that you do not perform any such activities that require bending of the knees while jumping.


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