16 best exercises to overcome arthritic knee problems

exercises to overcome arthritic knee problems Arthritis is a term used to describe a disorder that affects joints, leading to symptoms of joint pain and stiffness. Other symptoms may also be present, such as redness, warmth, swelling, and a decreased range of motion.

The knee is a joint that we rely on every day to walk and move around, and several types of arthritis affect it. The most common type is osteoarthritis (OA), which is progressive in nature due to the wearing out of joint cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another condition affecting the knee and is caused by excessive inflammation. A knee injury could lead to the destruction of parts in the knee itself, and it’s possible for an injury to cause post-traumatic knee arthritis.


If is important to have a doctor diagnose your particular case of knee pain and to obtain the most effective treatment. However, there are well-known exercises for arthritic knees that may help reduce symptoms and promote flexibility.

Exercises for arthritic knees

Hamstring stretch

A common runners stretch, this helps stretch the hamstring muscles in the leg. Start by sitting on the floor and placing the sole of your left foot on the inner thigh of the right leg. Your legs should be in a “number four” configuration. Now bend your body forward with your hips and reach toward the ankle of your outstretched leg. Keep your back straight and stretch, while still being comfortable. Repeat on the opposite side.

Quadriceps stretch

This is best with a friend or near a wall to keep your balance. While standing, lift one foot off the ground and grab the ankle behind your back. Pull your ankle back toward your buttocks and hold the stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.

Forward bend

Stand with both feet close together while keeping your knees a few inches apart and keep them slightly bent. Now bend forward, keeping your back straight as you try to touch your toes. Go down as much as possible while staying comfortable. Hold the stretch while breathing slowly.

Chair squat

Standing with feet shoulder width apart, raise your arms over your head. Now squat down, bending the knees to a 90-degree angle while positioning your arm in front of you. Keep your knees over your ankles. Hold this position for several seconds.

Calf raises

Using a chair or table for support, stand on one foot. Now, stand on your toes and lift yourself up and down several times. Switch to the other leg and repeat.

Quadriceps lift

Sitting on a chair or the side of a bed, place both feet on the ground and sit normally. Now hold the edge of the chair or bed and lift one leg in front of you while keeping the abdomen tightened. Keep your leg straight when you perform this. Do this several times on both sides.

Side leg raises

While standing, keep your hands behind you with your feet about shoulder width apart. Slowly raise one leg to the side. Keep your raised knee slightly bent and back straight. Keep the raised knee steady for about one second, then lower it and repeat on the opposite side. It is recommended to do this exercise about 10 to 15 times per side.

Knee curl

While standing, lift your leg straight behind you while keeping your toe pointed downward. Now, bring your heel toward your buttocks as far as you can by bending your knee and not using your hands. It may be useful to be close to a chair or some other form of support to keep your balance. Repeat on the opposite side

The One-leg dip

Stand between two chairs and hold on to them for balance. Now, lift one leg about 12 inches off the ground and hold it out in front of you, while keeping your back straight. Using your other leg that is on the ground, lower your body up and down very slowly. Repeat this move several times before switching to the opposite.


Stand and make sure you have something to lean on if you lose your balance. Lift your foot as far as you can toward your buttocks. Repeat this move several times before switching to the opposite

Short arcs

Start by lying on the ground face up. Your legs should be in a horizontal position on a flat surface. Now, place a rolled-up towel under the knee and pull your toes toward you and clench your thigh muscles. Do not use your hands to assist toe movement. Repeat on the opposite side.

Straight leg raises

Start in a lying position with your back against the ground. While keeping your legs straight and knees locked, raise the desired leg up off the ground while keeping it straight and not bending the knee. Repeat on the opposite side.

The Clam

Start by lying on your side with your hip and knees bent about 90 degrees. Keep your feet and knees together to begin. Separate your knees as far as they can and hold that position for about three seconds before slowly lowering your knees back down.

Buttock clenches

Sit on a firm chair, clench your buttocks together, and hold for several seconds.

Knee marching

Sit on a chair with both knees in front of you and feet flat on the ground. March your legs up and down one at a time, lifting your knee and foot up and then back down.

Sit to stand

Sit in a firm chair with feet flat on the ground. Lean forwards, lift your buttocks, and stand straight up and then sit back down again. Avoid using your arms for an added challenge.

Benefits of exercises for knee arthritis

Exercising is great for all aspects of the body. It helps keep your muscles and bones strong and in working order. Having an arthritic knee may limit your range of motion, but if you incorporate regular exercise into your regimen you can actually reduce arthritic symptoms such as pain and stiffness.


This holds true for all types knee arthritis. While the pain may be a discouraging factor, those who make the effort help strengthen their leg muscles and the muscles surrounding the knee giving them more stability and added protection from impact. Exercise also release endorphins, a natural painkiller.

Exercise also helps increase flexibility, helping to combat the stiffness felt by arthritic joints. By extending and contracting your leg muscles more often than not, you help keep increase your body’s range of motion. Regular exercise also helps with cartilage formation, weight loss, and maintaining health.

Related: Osteoarthritis knee pain relief at home: Easy tips and natural remedies

Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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