Stretching daily can be beneficial for many. It’s a way to improve blood circulation and flexibility, achieve and maintain good posture, and even reduce stress. You may have even heard people recommend stretching upon waking and before sleeping as well as before and after exercising.
But stretching can also be ideal for those with chronic joint pain. Whether one suffers from osteoarthritis, bursitis, or another knee condition, stretching alone may help alleviate some discomfort. That said, let’s learn about what stretches to engage in daily to reduce knee pain.
1. Figure Four Stretch
Glutes that are too tight can add excess compression to the quads. In turn, this can cause heavy pressure on the knees, causing discomfort in the process. The Figure Four Stretch can help relax each of these areas.
The thing is, some knee pain treatments may not relax the other regions associated with knee pain. Yet, several stretches such as the Figure Four Stretch can. Follow the below instructions to complete this stretch:
- Lying on your back, place your left foot on your right quad while bending your right knee.
- Hold the back of your right leg (behind the thigh). Pull this leg closer to towards you slowly.
- Once you reach a spot where you feel comfortable, hold this position for about 10 to 15 seconds.
- Repeat this stretch with the other leg.
2. Standing Calf Stretch
This next stretch is ideal for those who suffer with knee pain due to tight calves. Performing this stretch is easy. However, you will need stairs, a curb, or steps of some sort to perform this:
- Stand on a curb step with your left foot. Place your right heel on the ground with your right foot’s ball angled on the step’s edge.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Switch to the other leg, and do the same.
According to Harvard, exercising the calves along with ankles, thighs, hips, and lower abdomen can help arthritic knees. However, they mention that overworking any of these regions can worsen painful, overused joints. Based on this, exercising in moderation is important – with or without joint pain in the picture.
3. Half-Kneel Hip and Quad Stretch
A study discovered that if hip and knee problems aren’t addressed, pain can transfer to other regions including the feet. Because the body and its many parts are interconnected, it is not uncommon for this to occur.
One way to aid with the latter is to engage in the Half-Kneel Hip and Quad Stretch. This is not just a great stretch for the hips and quads but also for the calves, knees, and feet.
- Kneel on one knee, forming 90-degree angles with both of your legs. You may place a towel, blanket, or other device under your knee to reduce any pain while performing this stretch.
- Grab the ankle of the leg that is kneeling, and slowly pull it towards your buttocks as closely as possible.
- During this process, ensure that the hips are straight and that you are leaning onto your non-kneeled leg/foot. Stretch all the way to the knee of the non-kneeled leg. Complete 10 to 15 reps.
- Switch to stretch the other leg with another 10 to 15 reps.
4. Quad Stretch
One of the causes of joint pain is tight quads. Performing the simple Quad Stretch, you can help relieve some of the tension felt behind your patella, or kneecap. This stretch is fairly simple and doable for many:
- Lie on the floor on your side with the bottom leg straight and your other leg bent.
- Attempt to hold the top of the foot of the leg that is bent. Keep the foot as close to your buttock as possible.
- As you pull back, keep your hips in place. Hold for about 30 seconds.
- Repeat this stretch for the other leg.
Some may have the misconception that staying still when in pain is the best route. However, a 2012 study found that quadricep exercises can eliminate pain and improve function in individuals with knee conditions. That said, this stretch is one of many that may be able to do so.
5. Wall Hamstring Stretch
The hamstring plays a larger role with the knees than some may realize. This large tendon extends from the hips to behind the knee. When hamstrings are an issue with your knee discomfort, turn to the Wall Hamstring stretch. Apart from assisting with the hamstrings, this stretch is beneficial for the quadriceps and feet.
- Lie on the floor on your back with your left foot flexed up. Prop your right leg on a wall, table, or other heavy object to keep your leg vertical. You can also use a resistance band instead.
- Slowly stretch the propped leg as straight up as you possibly can.
- Hold this pose for about five seconds, repeating 10 to 15 rounds.
- Switch to stretch the other leg.
Because the Wall Hamstring Stretch may be difficult for some, only do what you can. Attempting to force your propped leg completely vertical isn’t practical. Instead, slowly work into this stretch.
6. Straight-Leg Raise
If the last stretch is too difficult for you, you can instead opt for the Straight-Leg Raise. It provides a similar concept in terms of benefitting the quads but is less harsh on the legs.
You won’t need an object to support your leg as you would with the Wall Hamstring Stretch. Instead, you will be moving your leg in mid-air. That way, you can have better control over how far back you may extend your leg during the stretch. However, if you feel you need leg support, the Wall Hamstring Stretch may be more suitable.
- Lie faceup on your back. Bend one of your knees while keeping that foot on the floor. Keep your other leg and both of your arms flat on the ground.
- Start by raising the flat leg (with toes pointed towards the ceiling) upward. Complete three sets of 10 to 15 reps.
- Repeat with your other leg. As you get more experienced, you may consider wearing lightweight ankle weights for this stretch.
7. Low Lunge / Crescent Lunge / Pigeon
This next stretch can make for another natural joint pain relief for knee conditions. The low lunge is ideal for those with tight hips that are contributing to knee pain. This lunge can also help relax the hamstrings and quads that may be exasperating knee inflammation or discomfort. Be aware that this pose will require decent balance.
- Begin in the Downward Facing Dog yoga position. As you exhale, step your right foot adjacent to where your hands are. Your right knee should be aligned with your heel.
- Place your left knee on the floor and slide it back while keeping your right knee in place. The top of your left foot should be touching the floor.
- Hold this position for about 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch around your groin and left thigh region.
- Complete this stretch for the other leg.
While there are several ways to soothe knee pain, stretching is just one of many ways that can help. Doing these stretches daily won’t cure knee joint conditions but can potentially assist with knee pain and flexibility. The bottom line is, there are definitely natural and effective ways to aid with knee pain. You just need to find what works.