Man sitting on the couch massaging knee in pain due to arthritis

10 Best Knee Exercises for Arthritis

Physical activity is crucial for a healthy lifestyle — but it’s especially important for individuals with arthritis. As we get older, pain and inflammation in the joints can make everyday activities painful, and just the thought of walking around your neighborhood might seem too much for your knees to handle. 

Regular exercise can strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected joints and reduce bone loss.1 It also circulates synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant for joints, to help reduce stiffness and pain.2 

The best knee exercises for arthritis keep you active without putting too much strain on the body. Below, we discuss 10 low-impact exercises that can help with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Of course, before starting any exercise program, it’s important to have a discussion with your doctor. An osteoarthritis doctor at ARBDA can develop a personalized workout routine just for you

The Importance of Exercise for Osteoarthritis of the Knees

Exercise is medicine, and those who suffer from arthritis might learn that it’s the best remedy for their pain. An article published in the National Library of Medicine reviews numerous studies on the effects of exercise for osteoarthritis of the knees, and concludes that there is evidence that exercise can reduce knee pain and improve physical function.3 

It can also offer the following benefits: 

  • Replenish lubrication to the cartilage of the joint1
  • Reduce inflammation4
  • Delay cartilage and bone degeneration4
  • Improve balance4
  • Improve joint motion5
  • Strengthen muscles around joints6
  • Increase energy6
  • Improve sleep6
  • Control weight6

Discuss Exercise Programs With Your Doctor First!

Though it may be tempting to start working out on your own, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider about how exercise is beneficial to your treatment. There are many different forms of exercises for knee arthritis. Your doctor will inform you on whether range-of-motion, strengthening, or aerobic exercises work best for you — or whether it’s a combination of all. They will also let you know how often you should exercise to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your knees and joints. 

Try These 10 Knee Exercises for Arthritis

Hamstring Stretch

Stretching exercises help improve flexibility and range of motion — but, most importantly, they warm up the muscle to help avoid unexpected injuries. 

  1. Lie flat on the floor or an exercise mat.
  2. Grab the back of your thigh muscles with both hands.
  3. Bend your knee.
  4. Pull thigh towards your chest and hold for 10 to 20 seconds. 
  5. Relax your leg.
  6. Grab an exercise band or bedsheet, and loop it around your foot. 
  7. Use the band to pull leg straight up. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. 
  8. Relax your leg.
  9. Repeat on other leg.

Quadriceps Stretch

  1. On a flat surface, lie down on your back.
  2. Slowly bend the left leg at the knee.
  3. Use the left hand to grab the ankle or shin.
  4. Gently lift the knee to stretch the quad muscles.
  5. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
  6. Relax your leg.
  7. Repeat on your right left.

Calf Stretch

  1. Place both hands on the back of a chair for balance and support.
  2. With your right knee bent, step back with your left leg.
  3. Straighten your left leg out behind you, pressing the heel firmly against the floor.
  4. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds.
  5. Relax your leg.
  6. Switch legs and repeat.


  1. Place both hands on the back of a chair for balance and support.
  2. Lift one foot off the floor.
  3. Bend the knee to bring the heel of your foot towards your bottom.
  4. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. 
  5. Relax your leg.
  6. Repeat on other leg.

Mini Squat

  1. Place both hands on the back of a chair for balance and support.
  2. Start by slowly bending your knees.
  3. Lower body as much as possible without causing knee pain.
  4. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds. 
  5. Straighten your knees to rise to a standing position.
  6. Repeat.

Sit to Stand

  1. Slowly lower your body to sit on the chair.
  2. Keep your back straight and feet flat on the floor.
  3. Use leg muscles to slowly stand.
  4. Repeat.

One Leg Balance

  1. Stand behind a chair with your hands hovering over the top rail. Do not hold on to the chair.
  2. Slowly lift one foot off the floor.
  3. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.
  4. Lower foot to the floor.
  5. Repeat on other leg.

Step Ups

  1. Stand in front of the stairs with one hand on the banister for balance and support.
  2. Place left foot on the stair and use the leg muscle to step up, bringing right foot to the stair.
  3. Lower right foot to the floor.
  4. Lower left foot to the floor.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.


Walking can be a highly beneficial workout, even if you experience stiffness or discomfort in your knees. Start slowly and maintain good posture to get the most out of this form of exercise. Engaging in this activity can help to alleviate joint pain, build muscle strength in your legs, improve your posture, and increase your flexibility. 

Speak With an Arthritis Specialist at ARBDA About Your Exercise Plan

If you have knee arthritis, speak with a specialist at ARBDA about osteoarthritis treatment. We take a comprehensive approach to help alleviate joint stiffness and pain, looking at everything from exercise to medication. Our goal is to create a personalized plan that gives you a new lease on life.

By seeking guidance from an arthritis doctor at ARBDA, you can develop a safe and effective exercise program that works best for your individual needs! Contact us today to speak with a friendly member of our team.







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