“It takes a few minutes for my knee to feel normal after waking up in the morning…”
Does this sound familiar? Is morning knee discomfort something that you ignore? Or is it something you think you have to learn to live with?
The bad news: If you don’t do anything, that discomfort can grow and start to impact your whole day.
The good news: Knee joints are made up of several different structures that are meant to stretch and maintain movement. By incorporating these five simple, beginner exercises into your routine, you can maintain — or even improve — the mobility of your knee joint.
Exercise #1: Knee Flexion Stretch with Self-Overpressure – Laying on Back
- While laying on your back, bend your knee while sliding your heel toward your buttock.
- Once you reach a point where you cannot actively bend your knee further, place your hands near your shin and gently pull your knee in.
- Start with 5-10 repetitions for each knee. These repetitions are guidelines to start with, increase sets and repetitions as needed.
Exercise #2: Knee Extension Stretch – Seated at Edge of Chair
- While sitting at the edge of a chair with your knee straight and your heel in contact with the ground, tighten your top thigh muscle to press the back of the knee downward and toward the ground.
- Start with 5-10 repetitions for a 3-5 second hold for each knee.
Exercise #3: Seated Hamstring Stretch – Seated at Edge of Chair
- Sit at the edge of a chair with your knee straight and your heel in contact with the ground.
- Gently lean forward until you feel a stretch at the back of your thigh.
- Start with 2-3 sets for a 20-30 second hold for each side.
Exercise #4: Seated Knee Rotation – Seated at Edge of Chair
- While sitting in a chair, keep your thigh still.
- Rotate your lower leg (i.e., your knee and below) so that your toes point out and then in.
- Start with 5-10 repetitions for each knee.
Exercise #5: Calf Stretch – Standing
- Stand in front of a wall or any solid object. The further you stand with the back leg, the greater the stretch.
- Place your hands on the wall. Keeping the toes of both legs pointed straight forward, step forward with one foot, while keeping the knee on the rear leg straight throughout the stretch. The further you stand with the back leg, the greater the stretch.
- Lean forward, toward the wall or solid object, allowing your front knee to bend. You should feel a stretch along the back of your leg that is behind.
- Start by holding this stretch for 30 seconds.
Hiral Tailor, DPT, is a residency-trained and board-certified outpatient orthopedic physical therapist at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.