The following 8 exercises are from Robin McKenzie, a New Zealand born Physiotherapist whose McKenzie Method is currently the most studied diagnostic treatment system for back pain. This exercise program will give you an opportunity to treat your own knee pain and regain pain-free movement.
Important Note: For optimal knee pain relief, it’s recommended to do the following stretches 10 times every two hours until you go to bed.
Exercise 1: Active Knee Extension in Sitting
Start by sitting upright in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift the foot of your painful knee and straighten your leg until you feel your quadriceps (thighs) contract.
Hold for 2 seconds and then return your foot to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 2: Knee Extension in Sitting
Sit in a chair and place the heel of the painful knee on a chair or stool of similar height with your knee slightly bent and toes pointing up. With a relaxed knee, slowly straighten your leg. Hold for 2 seconds and then return your knee to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Now reach forward with both hands and place them just above your knee. Slowly push down and straighten your knees with your hands until you feel a slight stretch behind the knee. Hold for 2 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Helpful Tip: Remember to move just into the pain and then release the pressure.
Exercise 3: Knee Extension in Standing
Stand upright and place the heel of your painful knee on a low step, stool or on the floor. Slowly reach forward with both hands, placing them just above your knee.
Slowly push down and straighten your knees with your hands until you feel a good knee stretch. Hold for 2 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
If your pain is on the inside of the knee, rotate your foot outward while doing this knee extension exercise. Likewise, if your pain is on the outside of the knee, rotate your foot inward while doing this knee extension exercise.
Exercise 4: Knee Flexion in Sitting
Begin by sitting in an upright position. Slowly bend your knee and with both hands placed above your ankle, pull your leg up towards your chest. Pulling your heel towards your buttocks and hold for 2 seconds. Then return your knee to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
Exercise 5: Knee Flexion in Standing
Stand upright and place the heel of your painful knee on a chair or stool. If you need, hold onto the chair for balance. Slowly lean forward and push your buttock towards your heel until you feel a good knee stretch. Hold for 2 seconds and repeat 10 times.
If this exercise is uncomfortable, try placing a rolled up hand towel behind the knee, and this should relieve the discomfort.
Exercise 6: Knee Flexion in Kneeling
Start kneeling on all fours with a cushion underneath your knees for support. Slowly kneel back on your heels with your hands on the floor in front of you until you feel a firm stretch in your knees. Hold this position for 2 seconds, and repeat 6 to 10 times.
Now do the stretch again, but this time lift your hands off the floor and sit on your heels. Hold for 2 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 7: Knee Strengthening in Standing, Chair Squat Holding Door Knob
Stand upright with feet shoulder width apart and a chair behind you and an open door in front of you, so you can hold onto both door knobs. Slowly sit back until you feel a a firm tension in the muscles around the knee. Repeat 10-15 times twice a day.
Remember to keep your knees pointing forward and lowering your hips until your buttocks almost touches the chair, but don’t let it.
Exercise 8: Knee Strengthening in Standing, One-Legged Knee Bend
Stand upright on the leg with the knee pain, along the edge of a step using a chair for support. Bend your painful leg, so your pain-free leg is slowly lowered below the level of the step toward the floor until you feel a a firm tension in the muscles around the knee. The lowering phase should take 3-5 seconds. Make sure to keep the center of your knee pointing forward. Hold this position for 2 seconds and repeat 10-15 times twice a day.