6 Best Exercises for Knee Pain, Swelling and Stiffness Relief

Exercises for Knee Pain – Apart from neck pain and back pain, knee pain seems to be the next most commonly experienced pain. Have you ever be on the move and sudden sharp pain and stiffness in your knee render you immobile for a while.

In a severe condition, knee pain involves swelling, which is accompanied by a stinging pain. Though there are several medications available for knee pains, there are exercises for knee pain because not everyone loves to pop pills.

But before you do anything to alleviate pains in the knee, you should know precisely the source and cause of your pain. Some of the common causes of knee discomfort or pain include:

  • Injuries to the legs
  • Arthritis
  • Bio-mechanical issues, such as poor form, deformities or muscular compensations that cause the kneecap to fall out of its optimal position
  • Gout, characterized by calcium-containing crystals forming on the joints or uric acids
  • Infections that can lead to fluid retention and swelling, such as septic arthritis
  • Bone or cartilage issues

When any of the above-stated situations arise, you may likely experience any of the following symptoms of knee pain:

  • Swelling around the knee
  • Discomfort and pain when walking, squatting or doing other exercises
  • Inability to bear weight on the knee (Standing)
  • Stiffness and reduced ability to tilt the knee, like having a hard time straightening and bending the knee
  • Weakness in the affected leg
  • Redness and warmth around the kneecap

Knee pains may come with a lot of discomforts, but I guess what matters most is how you treat it. Are medications the only solutions to knee pains? No! There are simple exercises for knee pains you can always do even while on pills to ease the pain in aching knee joints.

Keep reading to have a look at six best exercises for knee pain, swelling, and stiffness relief.


Before You Start Doing Exercises for Knee Pain, Swelling and Stiffness Relief

Yes! Exercises could indeed ease knee pains, but there are precautions. The type of knee exercise that will help you find relief from knee pain depends on the underlying cause of your condition.

If you have flexible but weak legs, it is best to go for knee exercises that will strengthen the muscles in your legs to support your knees.

On the contrary, if you have healthy but stiff or tight legs/joints, only exercises to improve your flexibility/mobility are perfect. You can, however, do exercises for strength and flexibility to ease knee pain.

Below are the exercises for knee pain you should know.

1. Leg Raises



This is an impressive exercise for strengthening your quads and providing more support and strengths to the knees.

How To Do

  • Lie flat on your back, then stretch your legs
  • Place your arms at your sides
  • Lift the right leg to about 6 inches off the floor
  • Hold this position for about 10 seconds
  • Return the leg to the follow and repeat the same move on the left leg
  • Ensure to complete 5–10 reps on each side.

2. Hamstring stretch



This is one of the exercises for knee pain that can help you deal with leg weakness and tightness.

How to Do

  • Lying with your back to the floor, bend your legs
  • Lift the right leg slowly in the bending position and move your knee towards your chest
  • Lock your fingers tightly under your thigh and stretch the leg
  • Pull your straight leg back to your head until you’re able to feel the stretch
  • Stay for about 30 – 60 seconds
  • Then, slowly bend the knee and lower your leg back to the ground.
  • Repeat this move on both legs.

3. Leg stretch



Just as the name implies, leg stretch is an exercise that will stretch and strengthen the leg muscles. If you do not feel comfortable sitting on the floor, you might as well have this exercise done while sitting on the bed.

How to Do

  • While sitting on the floor, stretch out both legs
  • Balance yourself with your hands on either side of your hips
  • Keep a straight back
  • Then slowly bend the right knee until it feels stretched
  • Hold the leg in that position for about 5 seconds, then slowly straighten your leg out as far as you can, again holding for 5 seconds.
  • Switch to the left leg and repeat the same move.

4. Clam Shells



If you are dealing with weak gluteus medius muscles, the Clam Shells exercise is just perfect for you.

How to Do It

  • Lie on your right side with your knees bent and feet and hips stacked
  • Let your feet be in line with your butt and your shoulders stacked
  • Keep your feet together as you raise your left knee out to the side while maintaining your right knee on the ground
  • Hold your lifted knee for one second, then lower and start again.
  • Do ten reps on each side.

5. Single-Leg Squats



If your knee pain is acute, you might as well try this single-leg squat. Don’t be too scared! The bending might cause a little pain you would bear for just a while.

How to Do It

  • Stand to place your feet hip-distance apart
  • Balance yourself and then make your left toe touch the ground
  • Set your gaze on a static point in front of you
  • Try to sit back on the right leg while raising the left foot and extending the left leg in front of you
  • Don’t exceed your strength. Go down as far as you can.
  • Stay lowered for about 5 seconds, then lift back up.
  • Repeat about ten times on each side.

6. Step-Ups



This is about the easiest exercise on this list. Just like having fun on the stairs, you could bring comfort and ease to your stiff legs and painful knees.

How to Do It

  • Stand with feet hip-distance apart
  • Step up onto a slightly raised bench or step with your right foot and follow with the left foot
  • Step back down with your right foot and other feet so the next one will start with the left foot and so forth.
  • Try to do 10-20 reps.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Can Help a Stiff Knee?

Ice, Rest, Knee braces, Compression, and Elevation can immensely help to reduce swelling and pain. Also, physical therapy and exercises that strengthen quads and hamstrings can help ease the pressure on your knees.

2. Is Climbing Stairs Bad for the Knee?

Frankly, running and climbing stairs will not harm your knees if you are fit. However, if you are overweight or have knee challenges, running and climbing the stairs should be done in moderation.




Mild legs exercises like the ones above could be the only solution to minor conditions of knee pain. When your knee pain arises as a result of overstressing the legs or joints, some of these stretches can help bring back your comfort.

However, in severe cases of knee pain due to severe injuries or other critical health conditions, it is safe to consult a physician for medication and advice on whether to do some exercises or not.

Apart from exercises for knee pain and drugs, it is also quite essential for you to maintain some lifestyle to keep your limbs active and strong. You can make it a habit to exercise your joints regularly with low impact exercises like walking and yoga.

And another thing! Your diet! Eat well and healthy. When you have pains, anti-inflammatory foods and supplements in natural herbs could be of great help too.

What could be more depressing than having to sit down in one place? Even when you desire to take a walk, knee pains could really make you feel frustrated. But it is never too late to try some of these exercises to fast track your healing process.

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