Your knee joints help you do daily activities like walking, squatting, and standing still. But if your knees are painful or tight, these movements might feel uncomfortable.

Doing knee stretches can provide relief. These stretches loosen the muscles around your knee, which reduces pressure on the joint.

Remember, your knee isn’t a muscle. It’s a joint between your thigh bone, shin bone, and knee cap. Therefore, knee stretches should target the muscles and tendons that surround the knee.

This includes the:

Here’s how to stretch your knees and the benefits.

Since the knee is attached to several muscles, it’s important to do stretches that engage each group.

1. Knee straighteners

This beginner-friendly move stretches the knees and hips. As you straighten your knee, you’ll loosen up the surrounding muscles.

To do it:

  1. Sit upright in a chair. Plant your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Engage your core. Raise your right foot to straighten your leg.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to starting position. Repeat with your left leg.

2. Straight leg raises

Like knee straighteners, this exercise extends the knee. This will stretch the tendons and muscles on the backside of your knee joint.

To do it:

  1. Stand upright with both feet flat on the floor. For extra support, place one hand on a wall or the back of a chair.
  2. Straighten your right leg in front of you, flexing your foot upward.
  3. Lift your right leg to about knee-height. Hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Return to starting position. Repeat with the left leg.

3. Lying hamstring stretch

The hamstring muscle crosses the back of the knee. To relieve tightness in this area, try the lying hamstring stretch.

To do it:

  1. Lie down on the floor. Bend both legs and plant your feet on the ground. Contract your core.
  2. Move your right knee toward your chest, keeping your right foot flexed. Place your hands behind your right knee.
  3. Slowly extend your right knee while pulling your thigh gently toward your chest.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds. Return your leg to the starting position.
  5. Repeat with the left leg.

4. Standing quad stretch

The standing quad stretch loosens up the muscles and tendons in the front of your knee joint. You’ll feel the stretch in your quads in the front of your thigh.

To do it:

  1. Stand upright, feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on a wall or back of a chair. Engage your core.
  2. Bend your right knee, moving your heel toward your butt. Grab your lower leg and hold for 30 seconds.
  3. Slowly bring your heel back to the floor.
  4. Repeat with the left leg.

5. Calf stretch

Like the hamstring, the calf muscles are attached to the back of your knee. If your calf is tight, it can pull on the knee joint and cause pain. You can loosen it up by doing a calf stretch.

To do it:

  1. Stand in front of a wall, feet hip-width apart. Place your palms on the wall, just above your shoulders.
  2. Engage your core.
  3. Step your right leg back. Lean slightly forward, bending your left knee and elbows. Keep both feet flat on the ground.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat with the left leg.

6. Seated hamstring stretch

This move stretches the hamstrings, which relieves pressure on the knee. It’s especially helpful for runners, who are prone to tight hamstrings. This can lead to knee issues and sore legs.

By doing this move as a post-run stretch, you can relieve tightness in your hamstrings and knees.

To do it:

  1. Sit on a chair with another chair in front of you.
  2. Extend your right leg in to rest on the chair in front of you.
  3. Brace your core. Gently bend forward from your hips, keeping your back straight.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds. Return to the starting position.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.

Knee stretches reduce tightness in the muscles around your knee. This improves your knee’s flexibility and mobility, making it easier to move during exercise and daily activities.

Plus, when the muscles around your knee are loose, you’re less likely to have:

  • knee pain
  • knee stiffness
  • injury

For best results, do knee stretches regularly.

If you have knee pain, it’s recommended to avoid:

  • lunges
  • jumping
  • deep squats
  • running

These movements can worsen your knee pain, so it’s best to skip them. You can try these exercises once your knee pain gets better.

If you have knee pain, the thought of stretching might seem unpleasant. However, doing knee stretches when your knees hurt can help you feel better.

The key is to move slowly and gently. Hold each stretch for just a few seconds. If you’re doing reps, start with a low number. As your muscles loosen up, you can increase the duration of each stretch.

You should stop if you feel new pain or if your existing pain gets worse. In this case, see a physical therapist for personalized guidance.

In addition to stretching your knees, there are other ways to keep them healthy. This includes:

Strengthening exercises

Strength is as important as flexibility. When the muscles attached to your knees are strong, they’ll properly support your knees. This reduces strain and pressure on your knee joints.

But if these muscles are weak, they can’t help your knees absorb shock during movement. They’ll also become tight, causing pain in your knees and other parts of the body.

To make the surrounding muscles stronger, add knee strengthening exercises to your routine. These moves will ensure that your knees have enough support.

Examples of knee exercises include:

Pain relief

You can also manage knee pain with various home remedies. These include:

  • Ice. The cooling sensation of ice will relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation. Wrap an ice pack with a towel and place it on your knee for 20 minutes.
  • Heat. A hot water bottle or heat pack can also alleviate mild knee pain.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If you have minor knee pain, over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen may help.
  • Knee wraps. Wear a knee wrap or brace for extra knee support.

For severe or chronic knee pain, visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Generally, stretches and home remedies can help mild knee pain. But if your knee problems last for more than 2 weeks, see your primary care doctor.

Your doctor can determine if your knee issues are caused by an injury or underlying condition.

Your doctor might have you visit a physical therapist who can show you how to do specific stretches and exercises. They’ll focus on moves that target the cause of your knee pain.

Talk to a personal trainer if you’d like to try new exercises. They’ll help you stay safe while working out.

If you have knee pain, give these knee stretches a try. These moves can help by stretching the muscles attached to your knee. When these muscles are loose and flexible, they’ll place less pressure on your knees.

Move gently and take your time. If you feel new pain, or if your original pain gets worse, stop the exercise and see a physical therapist or your primary doctor.