Knee Stretches

Written by Tele Demetrious, Physiotherapist, BPhysio(Hons)
Reviewed by Brett Harrop, APA Sports Physiotherapist, BPhysio(Hons), MPhysio(Sports Physio)
Updated:

Exercises > Flexibility (Joints) > Knee Stretches

The following knee stretches are designed to restore movement to the knee and improve flexibility of muscles crossing the knee. If you are injured, you should discuss the suitability of these stretches with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them. Generally, they should be performed 3 times daily provided they do not cause or increase pain.


Knee Stretches – Basic Exercise

Knee Bend to Straighten

Bend and straighten your knee as far as possible and comfortable pain free (figure 1). Repeat 10 – 20 times.

Knee Stretches - bend to straighten

Figure 1 – Knee Bend to Straighten


Knee Stretches – Advanced Exercises

Quadriceps Stretch

Use a chair or table for balance. Take your heel towards your bottom, keeping your knees together and your back straight until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh (figure 2). Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain-free.

Knee Exercise - Quadriceps Stretch

Figure 2 – Quadriceps Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

Place your foot on a step or chair. Keep your knee and back straight, lean forward at your hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh / knee (figure 3). Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain-free.

Knee Exercise - Hamstring Stretch

Figure 3 – Hamstring Stretch

Calf Stretch

With your hands against the wall, place your leg to be stretched behind you as demonstrated (figure 4). Keep your heel down, knee straight and feet pointing forwards. Gently lunge forwards until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf / knee. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain-free.

Knee Exercises - Calf stretch

Figure 4 – Calf Stretch


Less Common Exercises

Knee Extension with Overpressure

Begin this exercise in the position demonstrated with your foot on a chair or coffee table (figure 5). Gently push down through your knee until you feel a mild to moderate stretch. Hold for 1 – 5 seconds and repeat 10 times provided the exercise is pain free.

Knee Extension Over Pressure

Figure 5 – Knee Extension with Overpressure

Knee Flexion with Overpressure

Begin this exercise in the position demonstrated (figure 6). Bend your knee as far as possible and comfortable using your hands to gently pull it a little further until you feel a mild to moderate stretch. Hold for 1 – 5 seconds and repeat 10 times provided the exercise is pain free. If you are having trouble reaching your shin with your hands, a towel can be used for extra reach. Place the towel over the shin and gently pull the towel with your hands to bend the knee.

Knee Flexion with Overpressure

Figure 6 – Knee Flexion with Overpressure

ITB Stretch

Cross your leg to be stretched behind your other leg, taking it as far as you comfortably can. Then push your hips to the side of your leg to be stretched until you feel a stretch in your outer thigh / hip (figure 7). Keep your back straight. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain-free.

Knee Exercise - ITB stretch

Figure 7 – ITB Stretch (left leg)

Adductor Stretch

Standing tall, back straight, place your feet approximately twice shoulder width apart. Gently lunge to one side, keeping your other knee straight, until you feel a stretch in the groin of your straight leg (figure 8). Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain-free.

Knee Exercise - Adductor Stretch

Figure 8 – Adductor Stretch (left leg)


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