The most common pain I hear about from clients is knee pain. Everyone wants to know the best knee strengthening exercises, how to stretch and strengthen knees, and what causes knee pain. There isn’t a straightforward answer to any of these questions, so of course, a blog post was in order!
For athletes, knee pain can be a real, well, pain! Knee strengthening exercises for runners is especially crucial, because of the constant impact they’re placing on their knees. (This is why proper running form is also super important!) Even for non-athletes, knee pain can be an ongoing issue. Sitting at a desk all day, commuting for hours on end, and even standing for extended periods of time can contribute to knee pain. However, doing daily, or even weekly, knee pain exercises can make all the difference in relieving joint aches and pains.
In today’s blog post, we’ll cover:
Causes Of Knee Pain
A few common causes of knee pain may include, but are not limited to:
- Excess weight
- & more
People of all ages and activity levels may experience knee pain. Sometimes you feel it immediately (after an injury), and other times it may gradually worsen over time (from overuse). Being overweight or inactive can also contribute to knee pain, and a history of arthritis may also put you at risk for knee pain. 
How To Treat Knee Pain
Treating knee pain with knee strengthening exercises is one of the most effective ways to rebuild muscle around the knees, and of course, help to treat knee pain. Exercises for knee pain can vary by intensity and sport, like knee strengthening exercises for runners, and can also be supplemented with protein or collagen powder.
Three of the best ways to treat knee pain include:
1. Exercises for knee pain
My favorite knee pain exercises are also some of my favorite yoga poses. I’ll go into the stretches themselves in the section below, but the reason these are so great is because they not only stretch the muscles around the knee joint, but knee pain exercises also help to stretch and strengthen the surrounding hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads (which all connect to knee tendons!)
2. Collagen supplementation
When our joints and bones start to ache and tremble, this can be a sign that they’re not getting proper support. In addition to building muscle via exercise and stretches, it’s important to support muscle growth from the inside, out. This can be done with collagen supplements! Collagen is one of the main building blocks of our muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and supports healthy joints, bones, and movement. Studies suggest that collagen supplementation can help with arthritis and sports-related joint pain . Taking a daily collagen supplement, like SkinnyFit Super Youth, not only gives your body the support it needs to feel strong, but it’s also one of the least disruptive solutions for relieving joint pain. This is why collagen is the #1 supplement I recommend to all of my fitness and nutrition clients. And because of its long list of benefits that stem beyond joint support, it should be a staple in everyone’s diet!
3. Wear the right shoes (or go barefoot!)
The body is all connected. When we’re in need of some alignment, always start from the ground up! Feet placement and support is so important, and having the right shoes will make all the difference in how your knees feel! Save the high heels for very special occasions and toss the sneaks with holes in the soles! Walking on the ground, in the sand, and on real wood surfaces all help to support and strengthen the feet, unlike fashion-forward shoes and flats.
Stretching Exercises For Knee Pain
Now for some knee pain exercises! If you have even just five minutes to spare each day (which, you should!), be sure to include at least two or three of these exercises for knee pain. They will increase your flexibility, strengthen your muscles, and contribute to preventing future or worsening knee pain!
1. Low lunge
This move helps to stretch your hips and quads and takes some pressure off of the knees. Come down to one knee with the opposite leg in front of you at a 90º angle. Squeeze the glutes and tuck your pelvis inward. You should immediately feel a nice stretch in the lowered leg’s quad. To deepen the stretch, lift your arms up overhead, opening up the chest, and then lean back as if you were about to roll over a beach ball. Gently inhale your way back to center, lower the arms, switch sides and repeat.
2. Kneeling quad stretch
This pose can be done immediately after your low lunge. Just grab a towel or blanket for your lowered knee to rest on. Once your knee is supported, kick your heel towards your butt and reach back to hold your leg in place. This pose will give you a nice, deep stretch in the quads and alleviate knee and ankle tension. If you can’t reach your foot behind you, grab a second towel, wrap it around your foot, and hold onto the end of the towel.
3. Dynamic bridge pose
Static stretching is great, but dynamic stretches help build flexibility and strength at the same time! Plus, they’re great knee strengthening exercises for runners. For this pose, start by lying down on your back with your arms by your side. Plant your feet hips-width distance, and drive your heels down into the ground. Lift your hips up toward the ceiling, and as you lift your hips, send your arms overhead. Then, as you lower your hips, slowly lower your arms back by your side in sync. Repeat for about 10 rounds. This pose helps to stretch your quads and hamstrings!
Knee Strengthening Exercises
Now that you have some flexibility exercises, it’s time for some knee strengthening exercises! Knee strengthening exercises help to build muscle and reduce weak knees. Most often, I recommend using weights when doing knee pain exercises. Lifting heavy objects (babies, groceries, weights, etc.) help to build muscle by using the entire body and are the most effective at building strength.
1. Lateral lunge
Also called a side lunge, lateral lunges help to open up the hips, strengthen surrounding knee muscles, and work the kinetic chain. Start by standing tall and step your left leg out wide. Shift your hips and weight back so that your right knee is bent. Arms can extend long in front of you, stay on your hips, or you can hold a weight or water jug! Hold here and root down as if your feet are being pulled three feet below the ground. Stay for about 5-8 breaths and switch sides.
2. Straight leg raises
This one is fairly simple, but perfectly challenging! Standing tall with your hands on your hips, or with weights in each hand, lift one knee to your chest and extend your leg long in front of you. If you start to hunch over, bring a bend to your floating leg. It may take a few weeks of these to be able to straighten your leg completely. Hold your leg out in front of you for about 5 seconds, bring it back to your chest, then kick out again and try and hold for 6 seconds. Do this until you hit 10 seconds, then switch sides.
Some people hate squats, some people love them, but you can’t deny that they make great exercises for knee pain. Stand with your feet a bit wider than hips-width distance, with toes pointed slightly outward. Sit your hips back and down while keeping your chest tall. Remember to keep the weight through your heels! This prevents you from adding unnecessary pressure to your patella (knee cap) and causing more pain. You can have a weight in your hands at your chest, hold two weights resting on your shoulders, or with no weights at all. Do about 10 reps, squeezing your glutes when you come to standing.
4. Single leg squats
Single leg squats are much shorter and narrower. Start with your feet closer together than your previous squat and lift one knee just slightly so that it’s not touching the ground. Sit back and down to squat and then rise back up, squeezing your glutes at the top. Reminder: you will squat a much shorter distance in single leg squats. These can be done while holding the back of a chair until you get the hang of it, if needed! If this is too advanced you can perform your single leg squat by sitting down on a chair and returning to a standing position with one leg, alternating sides.
Call me crazy, but I love lunges. You can do these back and forth in your house, up and down the street, or anywhere you have enough room to take at least 5 large strides. Start standing tall and then reach long in front of you with one leg, and lower down to make two 90º angles with your legs. Kick off your back leg and step forward again with your opposite leg. Continue until you do 10 lunges on each leg. It’s important to keep your knee and ankle aligned and avoid having your knee extend farther than your toes. Keeping the weight through the heels of your front foot during the lunge will prevent pressure to your knee cap.
The Bottom Line
I hope this blog helped clear the air on some of your knee pain questions and gave you guidance on how to heal your knee pain. Even if you perform a few of the knee strengthening exercises per day, you will notice a huge difference. Pair it with daily collagen supplements and you’ll feel like a new woman!