Knee Stretches

| July 31, 2013 | Reply

Knee stretches are considered by a large majority of physiotherapists and trainers as a very effective way for fortifying the tendons and joints around the knees and preventing them from being over-tightened. Belonging to the larger category of leg stretches, the following exercises can greatly benefit equally ordinary people and runners or athletes, although they can be relatively tricky to be performed. To be more accurate, these stretches refer to the muscles and tendons that are connected with the knee bones (4 ligaments and several muscles – read below for more info on the knee area). Stretching  these muscles and ligaments can be proved extremely beneficial for the knee! So, let’s have a closer look at the knees and the stretches you could try.

The Knee area

The Knee area

The Area

When referring to the knee, we are actually talking about the knee joint, which connects the thigh and the lower leg, enabling very important movements like flexion and extension; it is one of most sizeable and complex joints of the human body, consisting of two bones (femur and tibia) and four ligaments. Due to its nature, the knee is very prone to injuries and also degeneration while it is commonly affected by arthritis; in addition, pain is developed in the area as a result of tight leg muscles; therefore, carrying out stretching exercises and achieve knee strengthening (that is, fortifying the muscles and tendons of that joint) can be vital for decreasing the risk of an injury or a painful condition.

Knee Stretching Exercises

As you go through those basic exercises, you may identify some already known stretches – for example, stretches that focus on the quadriceps, the thighs, calves, or the hamstrings; yet, that is not as weird as it may initially seem, because muscle groups like the aforementioned play a major role in supporting the knee joint, and thus, working on their flexibility is the ideal way of enhancing knees ‘tendons and ligaments. Before you try any of the stretches described below please have a look at our detailed stretching guide!

  • Here is a simple and effective example of a passive/static hamstring stretch that can benefit your knee: from a standing position, put your foot on a step, maintaining your knee (and your back) straightened; lean ahead (also placing your hands on your the other thigh for support) and, at a certain point, you should sense a stretch in the back of your thigh; hold it there, relax and repeat with the other leg  (photo 1). If you don’t have a step you can apply the standing hamstring stretch of photo 2.
  • Moving on to some passive/static quadriceps stretches that can do good for your knees, here is a typical example: From a standing position and with your back straight and your legs joined together, you move your heel to your buttocks, grabbing it with your hand until you feel the stretch in the front of your thigh (photo 3).
  • Another quadriceps example: From an upright position, place one leg in front of you, bending its knee and leaving the other behind, putting its knee on the ground so as the two legs form an angle of 100-110 degrees; use a hand (or both) to grab the left behind foot from the toes, pulling it toward your glutes until you feel a stretch, and hold it; repeat with the other leg. This stretch also tightens the lower parts of the groin area (more info here) (photo 4).
  • Calf stretching is also essential in a stretching routine that protects knees and relieves knee pain! A simple and efficient passive standing calf stretch is demonstrated on photo 5.
  • Taking into consideration that stiffness in the iliotibial band can result in a tingling sensation in the knee, it is quite useful to stretch that area too; so, stand on your left foot, bridging the other foot behind you; then, put your left hand on your hip, raising your right arm above your head, to the left side; protend your hips to the right, and you should sense a pull on the exterior part of the right thigh; hold it there, relax, switch sides and repeat.
  • Finally, an easier stretch, of the dynamic type: Lie down with your legs joined and your arms to your sides; from that position, flex one knee, while keeping the other leg on the floor, and straighten it again without provoking anything but a mild discomfort; repeat for 10-20 times, take a breath and then do the process again with the other leg.

For the static stretches, performing 3 repetitions for each leg, holding them for 15-20 seconds, should be enough for massively improving your knees’ condition; carry out some of those knee exercises 2-3 days per week. Don’t forget to put some motion in your routine! You can also perform dynamic, or AIS variations of the static stretches we mentioned here!! You can also apply PNF Versions of the aforementioned calf/quads stretches! To better understand the previously mentioned stretches have a look at the Photos & Videos section!


Stretching your knees on a regular basis can be invaluable, particularly for people who engage in knee-corrading activities like running or jogging. More specifically:

  • It fortifies the ligaments and the tendons in the knee joint
  • It loosens tight muscles, significantly alleviating from knee pain
  • It makes knees much less vulnerable to injuries
  • It enhances the knee joint stability, hindering their steady deterioration
  • It lubricates the joint, preventing from excessive inflammation

What To Consider

Here is a heap of tips you should check into before performing knee stretching.

  • Never disregard that knee is a hypersensitive joint, and overstretching it can result in unpleasant situations
  • Perform the stretch in a controlled and well-governed way
  • Don’t overdo it, especially if the muscle groups surrounding your knees are weak – it’s better to strengthen those muscles (usually, via weight-training) before proceeding to knee stretches; otherwise, you may harm your knees instead of benefiting them
  • Avoid executing these stretches if you have encountered an injury or a disorder in your lower back, since they can further harm your discs
  • Dynamic knee stretching can help you before jogging or running, while static stretching is recommended after these activities

Besides you should never forget the general tips we shared with you at our general stretching guide!

Photos & Videos

Watch the photos and video below for a better understanding of the several knee stretching options:

Standing hamstring stretch

Photo 1 – Standing hamstring stretch on step

standing hamstring stretch

Photo 2 – Standing Hamstring stretch

Standing quadriceps stretching

Photo 3- Standing quadriceps stretching

Kneeling quadriceps stretch

Photo 4 – Kneeling Quads Stretching


passive standing calf stretch

Photo 5 – Passive Standing Calf Stretch

Our Opinion

Knee stretching is something you should adopt in your week program so as to diminish the risks related to physical attrition or injuries on this heavily used joint especially if you are an athlete. So, extending its limits and lifespan can soundly aid you, provided you seek advice from experienced trainers before commencing a program on you own.



Category: Stretching specific Body Areas

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