5 Physical Therapy Exercises to Reduce Knee Pain

man suffering with knee pain

The knee joint is one of the hardest working in the body, which is why it’s so prone to injury other chronic conditions that cause knee pain. If you’re one of the millions of Americans trying to decide what to do about your knee pain, keep in mind that one of the most successful, long-term options is physical therapy. In fact, recent analysis of knee pain treatment data spanning almost 6 decades demonstrates that exercise and movement work, under the guidance of your physical therapist, is one of the best ways to improve knee function and reduce knee pain for the long haul.

The following 5 knee exercises are ones that your physical therapist may teach you, but there are many others designed to help strengthen surrounding muscles, improve balance and increase range of motion in the knee.

1. Straight Leg Raises

Straight leg raises improve the strength in your quadriceps, which can support knee health, even if you currently have knee pain. Lie on your back on an exercise mat on the floor. Bend one knee and keep that same foot anchored to the floor. Straighten the other leg lift it up to the same height as the bent knee. Make sure to keep your pelvis still using your abdominal muscles. Your physical therapist may recommend several repetitions for each leg.

2. The Bridge

While still lying on the floor, bend both of your knees and keep your feet about hip-width apart. Engage your glutes to lift your hips as high as possible, creating a bridge. You’ll definitely feel the hamstrings and glutes working. Then, try lifting your toes up while anchoring your heels into the floor. Gently lower your hips back down briefly and then repeat as many times as recommended.

3. Prone Straight Leg Raises

Now, roll over onto your stomach, legs straight. Squeeze the glutes and lift one leg up toward the ceiling, holding the position for 3 to 5 seconds. Do about 10 reps and then switch sides, or as many as recommended.

4. Wall Squats

You can use an exercise ball, or just the wall in this exercise. During your physical therapy appointment, your physical therapist can show you how to do it either way so that it’s easier for you to do it at home too. Stand with your back against a wall with your feet about shoulder-width. Bend your knees slowly, keeping your entire back pressed to the wall until your things are about parallel to the floor. Try to hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then use your glute muscles to work slowly back up to standing-against-the-wall position.

5. Step Ups

Stand straight on the lowest step of a staircase or a step bench at a height recommended by your physical therapist. Tighten your abs and level your pelvis, then bend one knee and slowly lower the opposite toes to the floor and rise back to the standing position on the step.

Benefits of Working with a Physical Therapist to Resolve Your Knee Pain

It’s very important to visit personally with your physical therapist to get individualized diagnosis of your knee pain and training on the best knee pain exercises for your condition. There are many more knee exercises you may find helpful, but these are generally good for a wide range of people with knee pain. Don’t let knee pain keep you from living your best life. Schedule an appointment with your physical therapist today.


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image of patient with the therapy staff