Top 7 Stretches to Relieve Knee Pain for Athletes


Athletes like you want to push their limits every day to become better at what they do. However, putting your joints under too much stress can cause pain and inflammation. You can use the following athletic stretches to prevent knee pain. We also suggest these stretches for knee pain that already exists.

Please note that the best knee stretches for runners and athletes will depend on the nature of their individual injury or pain. An orthopedic specialist can help you find the right exercises for you.

1. Lunging Hip Flexor

The lunging hip flexor stretch makes the hips more flexible to reduce pressure on the quads and knees. Follow these steps:

  • Kneel on one knee and place your other foot in front of you with your thigh parallel to the floor
  • Lean forward, tightening your glutes and stretching your hip toward the floor
  • Reach up the arm on the same side as the kneeling knee
  • Repeat these steps for your other leg

2. Supine Hamstring

Since your hamstrings run across your knees, stretching them can help with knee pain. It involves these steps:

  • Lie on your back with one leg flat and the other placed against a perpendicular surface like a door jam
  • Move forward for a deep stretch or move back to reduce it
  • Repeat with your other leg

3. Hip Flexor and Quad

This stretch simplifies the standing quad stretch for an injured knee. Complete these steps:

  • Lie on your stomach
  • Loop a yoga belt or strap around a foot and move it towards your glutes
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with your other foot

4. Figure Four

The figure four stretch loosens the glutes, reducing pressure on the quads and knees. Try these steps:

  • Lie on your back
  • Cross your foot over the opposite quad, bending the knee on the opposite leg
  • Pull until you feel a stretch, then repeat on the other side

5. Standing Calf

When you have tight calves, your knee takes on extra pressure. The standing calf stretch loosens them with these steps:

  • Stand on the edge of a step or curb
  • Place one foot on the step and let the ball of your heel drop below the step
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides

6. IT Band Foam Roller

The iliotibial (IT) band runs along the outside of the thigh and influences knee pain when inflamed. Do the IT Band foam roller stretch with these actions:

  • Lie on your side and place a foam roller under your hip
  • Cross the opposite leg over and put it on the ground
  • Roll the roller down the side of your thigh, then repeat the entire process with your other leg

7. Side Lunge

Loosening the muscles in your inner thigh reduces strain on your hips and knees. Use the side lunge to stretch them with these steps:

  • Lunge out to one side, bending that side’s knee and keeping the other straight
  • Switch to the other leg and repeat

Do I Need to See a Doctor for My Knee Pain?

If your knee pain persists after a few weeks of rest and gentle stretching, we recommend seeing an orthopedic specialist. The team at OrthoBethesda can help — schedule an appointment online or call us at 301-530-1010.

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