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Chronic pain affects the mind and body alike. If you have chronic pain in your knees, you might be operating under the impression that knee braces and keeping your knees immobile are the only ways to reduce pain.

There is more you can do.

Trying a few exercises for knee pain can help lessen your discomfort. Strengthening the muscles in your legs can help you prevent pain.

Here are some exercises you can do if you have bad knees that will also help reduce pain.

1. Walking

Walking is a low-impact activity that doesn’t put too much stress on your knees and can help strengthen the muscles in that area.

Start slow and try to work up to a half-hour walk three to five times a week. This will slowly build up the muscles in your legs and can help with weight loss, alleviating some of the stress on your knees. The muscles you strengthen around your knees will act like a natural knee brace, keeping everything in place.

Try to avoid walking on hard surfaces because that can increase knee pain. Walking on a track or in the grass will soften the impact on your knees. Walking on an elliptical instead of a treadmill will also lessen the impact on your knees.

2. Lateral Walk

For those of you who don’t think your knees can handle squats, the lateral walk exercise doesn’t require you to perform a full squat. A quarter squat is enough to reap the benefits of this exercise.

To perform this exercise, start in a quarter squat position. Take as many big steps to the right as you can, followed by the same amount of big steps to the left.

Among the best exercises for knee pain, the lateral walk targets your butt and hip muscles, strengthening your hip flexors and extensors which help keep your knees aligned.

Try adding a resistance band above your knees or around your ankles to improve strength and flexibility.

3. Monster Walk

Similar to the lateral walk, the monster walk requires you to move front and back, as opposed to side-to-side.

Start in the quarter squat position and take a big step with your right foot diagonally to the right. Then step diagonally left with your left foot. Return back to your starting position.

This exercise is better for your hip flexors and extensors and targets your glute muscles differently than the lateral walk.

4. Donkey Kicks

Donkey kicks target your glutes and hamstrings while working your core.

Start on your hands and knees with your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Keeping your back straight and your knee bent, slowly raise your leg backward until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Do as many reps as you can, then switch sides.

If you’re on the more flexible side, try straightening your knee as you raise it.

5. Fire Hydrants

This exercise is similar to donkey kicks because you’re going to start in the same position and be targeting a lot of the same muscles. This move just stretches your hip flexors more.

Instead of raising your leg backward, you’re going to slowly swing it out to the side until your thigh is parallel to the floor.

This exercise has the added benefit of strengthening your core!

6. Warm-Up Stretches

Before doing any exercises for bad knees, stretch to warm up. Loosening your muscles can prevent injury. These stretches may also help alleviate knee pain.

To stretch your quadriceps, stand up, grab your ankle, and lift your foot up to your glutes. When you feel your quadriceps and hip flexor stretching, hold that position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

To stretch your hamstrings, start in a standing position and lift your leg in front of you. Bring your thigh as close to your body as you can, and hold the position when you feel your hamstrings stretching. Aim for thirty seconds, then switch sides.

If you can’t stand to perform these stretches, you can try them lying down. You can also use a yoga strap, belt, or towel to hold your leg in place if it helps.

7. Water Aerobics

If your knees hurt when exercising, consider exercising in the water. Submerging yourself in water makes you body lighter, thus reducing the stress on your knees. The water also provides resistance, giving you a better workout.

Doing steps or squats are a great way to strengthen the muscles surrounding your knees. When done in shallow water, these exercises are easier to perform and can be done painlessly.

Swimming laps in the pool is a low-impact exercise that’s a good workout for your entire body. It won’t put too much stress on your joints and can also help strengthen bones.

Healing Exercises for Knee Pain

The knee, made up of bones, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments, is the largest joint in the body. It can also be the source of a lot of discomfort.

A lot of people wonder if it’s a good idea to exercise if they have knee pain. They think it might put unnecessary stress on their knees. The truth is, not exercising could lead to more pain and weaker knees.

These exercises for knee pain will put you on the path to recovery! So give a few of them a try!

Living with chronic knee pain is difficult. If you’ve done the exercises and are thinking about the next steps you want to take on your journey to recovery, consider consulting a professional.