A combination of knee strengthening exercises, physiotherapy exercise for knee pain, and physiotherapy for knee pain can help strengthen your knees for running. Some simple rehab exercises or stretching post-running can help prevent the runner’s knee.

Physiotherapy for knee pain also presents a unique and effective treatment opportunity as it helps design a personalized treatment plan for you by including exercises that strengthen the quads and make the legs more flexible. These techniques are much more effective and long-term than knee braces and taping, and sometimes even frequently taking NSAIDs.

Your physiotherapist can assess your current movement and situation and design a program that helps your situation. If you have any pre-existing conditions or injuries, your physiotherapist will make the necessary accommodations to fit your needs. 

Knee Strengthening Exercises for Runners

Here are some knee strengthening exercises for runners that will target the knee, hips, and quads, and strengthen them to avoid pain and discomfort. Before performing these exercises make sure to stretch out your hamstrings and hip flexors. These exercises can help protect your knees and reduce tightness or inflammation. If you feel pain at any point, stop and skip the exercise. These exercises include-

Quad Stretch – This exercise focuses on your quads and hip flexors. 

  • Stand straight with your arms rolled back and back straight. 
  • Now reach behind, to grab your left foot with your left hand. 
  • Now bring your left heel up to the glutes and stretch as much as possible. 
  • You can use a wall for support in case you are a beginner, for balance. 
  • Hold for 10 seconds and then switch to the other leg. 
  • For people with knee injuries, you can perform this stretch, lie on your stomach, and reach your knee. You can use your hands, a yoga towel, or a strap to help bring your knee near your butt and hips. 

Hip Stretch – This targets the hip flexor muscles. 

  • Stand with your knees shoulder-width apart and with your left foot front and right leg perched back. 
  • Now drop your back knee so that they are near the floor while you bring your pelvis forward. 
  • Remember to keep your back straight and spine in a neutral position. Do not arch your back or be in a slouched position during this exercise. 
  • Hold this stance for 15 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.

Leg Lift – This targets the hip flexors and the quads. 

  • Lie down on a yoga mat on your back. 
  • Bring one knee to a 90-degree bend and extend the other leg straight out on the mat. 
  • Then, raise the extended leg to a 45-degree angle while tightening up the thigh muscles or quads. 
  • Now hold this position for 3 seconds and then repeat on the opposite leg.

Calf Stretch – This exercise targets the shin and calves. 

  • Stand upright facing a wall. Maintain a proper distance from the wall by putting your arms out and palms facing the wall. 
  • Your hands should be aligned at eye level. 
  • Keep the heel of the affected knee flat on the ground. 
  • Now move the other leg forward, with the knee bent. 
  • Now turn the affected leg slightly inside and slowly lean into the wall till you feel a good stretch in your calves. 
  • Hold for 15 seconds depending on your pain and then repeat. 
  • Do 3 sets of 2 each.

Also Read: 10 Common Knee Injuries

Stepping Exercise – This exercise targets the quads and the glute muscles. 

  • You can easily do this exercise on a flight of stairs. 
  • To begin, lift your left leg and hold it in the air for a second as your right leg straightens.
  • Then gently lower the right leg and switch to the left after completing 10 reps on both sides. 

Starfish exercise – This works on your hip flexors and glute muscles. 

  • Lie on your back on a yoga mat. 
  • Shift to one side with your hips and knee bent, and makes sure that your heels and feet are stacked on top of each other. 
  • Now raise the leg on top to the ceiling, while making sure your heels are touching. 
  • Hold for 5 seconds and then lower the leg slowly. 
  • Perform at least 6 reps on both sides, and level it up to 15 total if you can.

Standing Wall Slide – This exercise targets your quadriceps, glutes, and calf muscles. 

  • To begin, stand upright with your back gently pinned against the wall. 
  • Stand with your feet and heels in front of the hip bone and shoulder-width apart. 
  • Now slide your back and hips down the wall. 
  • Slide until your knees are at a 45-degree angle. 
  • Hold this for 5 seconds and perform 2-3 sets of 10 reps each.

Hamstring Stretch – This exercise focus on your hamstring muscles. 

  • Lie down on a yoga mat, on your back, with your left leg extended. 
  • Now bend your right leg and wrap your hands behind the right thigh as you gently try to pull it towards you. 
  • You should be able to feel a good stretch in the back of your thigh. 
  • As you pull, make sure to straighten the knee and keep your heels pointed and flexed. 
  • Hold this stretch for 20 seconds and then switch. You can repeat this up to 5 times on each leg.

Some other treatments to consider for a runner’s knee- 

  • Physiotherapy for knee pain to provide short-term pain management and long-term prevention. 
  • Icing the affected knee daily and multiple times a day 
  • Taking NSAIDS or over the counter drugs to help reduce the pain. Do consult wjth your doctor before this option. 
  • Foam rolling the affected area. 
  • Surgical options for serious cases. 
  • Practice regular knee strengthening exercises to prevent any unnecessary injury.

Also Read: Interferential Therapy (IFT) in Physiotherapy

Head on to Phyt Health, India’s first digital physiotherapy platform offering online physiotherapy services and consultations. With a wealth of knee exercises present on their website, you can include them in your daily life depending on your comfort level. All these exercises are curated by expert physiotherapists at Phyt Health. You can also book your online video consultation on the app, to discuss any issues you might be facing and begin your journey towards recovery!