6 Exercises for Knee Arthritis

By Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

How Does Knee Arthritis Affect Us?

Knee arthritis can be a nuisance, but this article can show you some exercises for knee arthritis.  It can also be life-changing.  The problem with arthritis in the knee is that it tends to worsen with overuse and underuse.  Most of the time, knee arthritis causes pain while squatting, climbing stairs, or rising from a chair.  As arthritis worsens, the knee can become stiff and even deformed.  To learn more about osteoarthritis, please read this article.

Osteoarthritis of the knee can be a debilitating injury, but it can be treated by an orthopedic surgeon.

Image of Knee with Osteoarthritis

JOI and JOI Rehab can certainly help you in many different ways if you have arthritis in your knee or your hip.  We have several conservative options which can help.  Our therapist have determined that for many patients with arthritis of the knee, choosing the best form of exercise is a good option. It is always important to be evaluated by your physician for the correct diagnosis of your knee pain.  Also, there are several stages of arthritis which would determine the correct plan of action for you.

However, with general knee arthritis, these exercises can help with the pain.

Top 6 Exercises for Knee Arthritis

Quad Sets:

Tighten the front of the thigh with the leg straight and resting on a surface. Hold the contraction for 10 seconds as hard as you can and repeat 10 times (the knee should be completely straight if possible).

Quad Sets

Quad Set                                   

Hamstring Stretch

 Lie on your back and raise one leg toward the ceiling.  Lock your hands behind your thigh and extend the knee until you feel a stretch behind your knee.  Repeat 3 X for 30 seconds.


Man on his back performing a 9090 hamstring stretch

90 90 hamstring stretch

 Straight Leg Raise.

Perform the quad set, but this time lift the leg about 12 inches off the surface while maintaining the contraction. Repeat 10 times.

Man doing SLR or straight leg raise on his back

Man doing SLR on his back

Side leg raise.

Lie on your side, keep the top leg straight and lift it about 12 inches. Repeat 10 times.  (be careful not to roll backward)  This exercise works on hip strength which is vital to control the knee with daily activity.

Man in R sidelying raising the Left leg with a straight leg raise

Man in R sidelying raising the Left leg with a straight leg raise


Only do squats if there is no pain.  Gently bend the hips and knees in standing.  Stick your butt back and keep the knees behind your toes.  Do not go too low or cause pain.  Also, do not let the knees come together while squatting.  Repeat 10 times.

Man doing a squat from the side view

Man doing a squat from the side view

One Last Exercise for Knee Arthritis: Cycling.

Riding a stationary bike is a great way to get cardiovascular exercise without placing excessive forces on the knee. Start slow and gradually increase resistance and duration.  Make sure that your physician clears you for cardiovascular exercise.

man riding a stationary bike in the therapy gym

man riding a stationary bike in the therapy gym

Exercise is vital to control the pain of knee arthritis.  Proper hip and knee muscle balance, control, and flexibility can slow the progression of knee arthritis and decrease pain.

Click to learn about Running with Knee Arthritis.

Knee Doctors in Jacksonville

Related Knee Articles:

Book an Appointment with The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Today!

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

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