Exercises that Help (or Hurt) Your Knees

 Exercises that Help (or Hurt) Your Knees

The knees are the largest joint in your body, and they’re crucial to move you through your day. Knee pain can make it tough to handle everyday tasks, let alone worrying about exercise. 

Yet, building and maintaining the support muscles of the knee might be one of the best pain-killing options you have, particularly if you’re suffering from a degenerative joint condition like osteoarthritis. 

The team at Westside Pain Specialists knows the importance of movement and knee health. Physical therapy is often an important part of a pain management program, whether you’re suffering from a chronic condition or recovering from injury. 

Dr. James A. Nassiri recommends several exercises that help with knee pain, as well as a few to avoid. 

Doctor’s clearance

Before starting a new exercise routine, check with your doctor first to make sure your knee is ready for the activity. The types and amounts of exercise must be balanced with the physical capability of your knee. While it may be tempting to push forward in hopes of a quick end to pain, overdoing it may result in reinjury and greater pain. 

Exercises that help your knee

The knee joint itself is simply the place where your leg bends. A joint has no ability to move on its own. For that, you need muscles. They not only provide motion through contracting and relaxing, they also support the components of your knee, taking strain away from the joint itself. 

When your muscles are strong and healthy, they relieve pressure and, ideally, pain. 


The muscles at the front of your thighs are important for knee function and a great place to start. Straight leg raises work the quadriceps, requiring no bend of the leg you’re working. 

Lie on your back and raise one knee so that your foot is flat on the floor. Raise the other leg, keeping the knee straight and toes pointing at the ceiling, to the height of at least 12 inches, but not exceeding the height of the bent knee. Hold for five seconds and lower the leg. Repeat three times and then switch legs. 

Add repetitions as the exercise becomes easier. You can also engage your abdominal core muscles to assist the leg raise. 


The back side of your thigh is home to the hamstring, another powerful muscle that supports the knee. Hamstring curls work both the hamstring and gluteal muscles. 

Standing with a chair for balance, slowly raise one leg until it’s bent about 90 degrees at the knee, and hold it for five seconds. Return your foot slowly to the floor. Repeat the curl three times and then switch legs. Again, add repetitions as the exercise becomes easy. 

Muscle combinations

If you have an exercise platform or stable stool no higher than 6 inches, step exercises can work the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, and gluteal muscles together. 

Standing parallel to the platform, step with one leg, raising your body until the knee is nearly straight and the other leg is off the ground. Hold the weight on the standing foot for five seconds, and then slowly lower the foot to the ground. Switch legs and repeat. 

Exercises that hurt your knees

When you have knee pain, avoid any activity that includes impact. When performing the exercises above, never let your leg drop. Control your return for the best results. Any jarring motion can further irritate the joint, increasing your pain. 

Don’t lock your knees when exercising. Always keep a slight bend at maximum extension. If you have balance issues, use a chair or other support to avoid falling. Substitute other exercises if you feel you’re at risk. 

For more ideas about building muscles for knee support, call the nearest location of Westside Pain Specialists in Beverly Hills or Rancho Cucamonga, California, to schedule a consultation. Dr. Nassiri and his team will help you with a treatment plan that restores knee function with minimal pain. Book your appointment now.

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