7 Effective Exercises To Manage Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

It is a totally different experience when you feel “weak in the knees” when you think of someone you like in the romantic sense.

But, if your body is showing actual signs of weakness in your knees, it cannot be a good sign. The knee is the largest joint in the human body and probably the most complex one, too.


Your knees take the weight of your entire body but, at the same time, make movements like bending and turning possible with ease.

A pain in your knees can be quite a hard thing to face irrespective your age. Osteoarthritis – a degenerative joint disease that occurs due to the wearing out of protective tissues at the ends of the bones – causes pain in the knees.


The good news is that there are several things you can do to reduce the effects of osteoarthritis of the knees like managing weight, exercising, reducing strain on the knees, etc.

Most patients with knee pain caused due to osteoarthritis can benefit from the knee exercises if done regularly and correctly. Let’s examine the types of exercises osteoarthritis (of the knee) patients should consider doing on a regular basis.


Types Of Exercises For Knee Osteoarthritis

Types Of Exercises For Knee Osteoarthritis

Most people with knee osteoarthritis may be under the impression that exercising can only worsen the pain than provide them relief.


However, this is not true. Exercises that are not too intense can help strengthen the knees and the areas around the knees.

There are different kinds of exercises that an individual with osteoarthritis knee can perform to manage the pain. Some of these exercises include the following:

  • Knee stretches: These are stretching exercises that improve the flexibility in the knee joint and its surrounding muscles. This can help reduce pain and stiffness too.
  • Knee strengthening exercises: As the health condition causes pain and weakens the knee joint, knee strengthening exercising help build the muscles around the knee, thereby, restoring strength in and around the knees.
  • Aerobic workouts: Aerobic exercises improve your heart health and increase your lung capacity. Depending on the severity of the knee condition, patients are recommended to perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises per week or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic workouts per week.1

Let’s examine a few simple exercises that you can perform at home. If you are a beginner it is always better to have a certified instructor or physiotherapist to help you perform the exercises correctly.

Also, make sure to start slow – try one exercise for about 10 minutes or perform one set of 3–4 repetitions and slowly work your way up to 8or 10 repetitions.


1. Knee Squats

Knee Squats Can Help Manage Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

You will require a support for this exercise like a chair or a table surface that can hold your body weight.



  • Stand straight and hold onto the back of a chair or any other support you can find.
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly bend the knees lowering the body a few inches. Make sure to do this till the kneecap covers your big toe and keep both feet flat.
  • Hold this position for 6–10 seconds.
  • Slowly, return back to the standing position.
  • Repeat this at least 5 times in the beginning and increase the numbers as you improve.
  • With time, try to bend the knees more not going beyond a right angle.

2. Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch Can Help Manage Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

This exercise also requires a support like a chair or any other support that can hold your body weight.


  • Stand straight holding the back of the chair.
  • Step backward with one foot back. Keep the leg in the front slightly bent at the knees and both feet flat on the ground.
  • Tuck your buttocks slightly under the hips until you feel a stretch in the thigh and hip of the back leg.
  • Hold this position for about 10 seconds and then release.
  • Repeat the same steps for the other leg.

3. Step Ups

Step Ups Can Help Manage Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

This exercise requires the use of stairs. If you do not have stairs to perform this exercise, you can use the stepper at the gym or even a footrest that can support your body weight.


  • With your right foot, step onto the bottom step of the stairs.
  • Bring up the left foot, then step down with the right foot followed by the left foot.
  • Repeat these steps with each leg.
  • Hold onto the banister or handrail for better stability and support.
  • As you improve, try to increase the number of steps and the height of the steps you place your foot on.

4. Straight Leg Raise

Straight Leg Raise Can Help Manage Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

There are two versions of the straight leg raise. One can be done by lying down while the other can be done while sitting.

Steps For Leg Raise While Lying Down:

  • Lie down on your back on the bed or on the ground.
  • Bend one leg at the knee.
  • Hold the other leg straight and lift the foot off the bed or the ground.
  • Hold this position for a slow count of five.
  • Repeat this with each leg.
  • Try to do this in the morning and at night while in bed.

Steps For Leg Raise While Sitting:

  • Sit back correctly in a chair with your spine straight.
  • Make sure your feet are flat on the ground.
  • Keeping one leg straight, raise it up, and hold the position till the slow count of ten.
  • Place the leg down and repeat the same for the other leg.
  • Try doing this a couple of times and increase the number slowly.
  • In the long run, if this seems too easy, try placing light weights on your ankles.

5. Knee Strengthener

Knee Strengthener Can Help Manage Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

The knee strengthener exercise can be done in two different ways. For this exercise, you will require a resistance band big enough to form a loop around both your legs. This exercise should be done while sitting on a chair.

Steps For Exercise 1:

  • Sit in a chair with your back straight.
  • Place the resistance band around both legs just above the ankles.
  • Place one foot firmly on the floor.
  • Straighten the other leg and lift it up and hold it for about six seconds.
  • Bring it to to the original position and repeat with the other leg.

Steps For Exercise 2:

  • Sit in a chair with your back straight.
  • Place the resistance band around the legs just above the ankles forming a loop.
  • Place one foot firmly on the ground.
  • Bend the other leg back under the chair and hold the position for six seconds.
  • Bring the leg back to the initial position and repeat the same with the other leg.

6. Legs Cross

Legs Cross

This exercise can be done sitting either at the edge of a table or your bed.


  • Sit with your back straight and legs out in the front.
  • Cross the ankles over, pushing your front leg backward and back leg forward.
  • Press the legs against each other until the thigh muscles become tense.
  • Hold this position for about 10 seconds and relax.
  • Switch your legs and repeat the same steps.

7. Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch Can Help Manage Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

This exercise can be performed by sitting on a chair.


  • Sit on the edge of a chair.
  • Straighten one of the legs forward, keeping the heels of the foot on the ground and toes pointing up.
  • Make sure the other leg is kept flat on the floor.
  • Keeping your back straight, gently lean forward from the hips until you feel a stretch in the back of the stretched leg.
  • Hold this position for about 10 seconds and return back to the original position.
  • Repeat the same steps with the other leg.

Performing these exercises can reduce the knee pain, improve flexibility, and reduce the stiffness, thereby increasing the knee function and supporting it in a healthy way.

If you are not sure of the severity of your knee condition, communicate with your doctor the exercise that you can do.