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7 Easy Exercises to Reduce Knee Pain and Strengthen Your Muscles

A woman crouched on the ground holding her knee.

Knee pain is a common joint issue that most people face at some point in their lives. Luckily, there are some easy exercises you can perform right in your own home that can ease the pain and strengthen those muscles.

Whether it’s due to injury, sprained ligaments, tendon inflammation, or osteoarthritis, knee pain is one of those conditions that lowers your ability to perform your usual activities. Not only is this painful, but it also affects your quality of life.

However, these seven easy moves can make a huge difference in your mobility, and you don’t need any high-tech equipment to do them. Just make sure you check with your physician first—after all, you don’t want to reinjure yourself or make the pain worse.

Resistance Band Walks

One of the best exercises for strengthening the muscles and tendons around your knees is walking with a resistance band. It will keep your hips squared and the constant tension will ensure your muscles are working the entire time.

The activation of your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and even your calves, will protect your knees and ligaments, and allow the muscles to do all the work.

To try this, start in a standing position with your feet hip’s width apart. Place the band above or below your knees and activate your thighs so you can feel the challenging resistance. Bend your knees a little to activate your core muscles.

Slowly, start to walk to the side, keeping the resistance the entire time. Perform 10 steps to the right, 10 to the left, and then repeat three times.

Exercise Resistance Bands, Three Pack

Strengthening your leg muscles will prevent knee pain.

Calf Raises

This simple exercise strengthens your calves and hamstrings, while isolating the movement to the back of your legs. It also strengthens your posterior chain and helps alleviate the pressure and tension of your quadriceps pulling your kneecaps.

All you really need to perform this move is a steady surface to hold on to. To start, stand high on the balls of your feet, and then slowly lower your heels to the starting position. The slower you can perform this move, the more you’ll be working those calves. Do three sets of about 20, and then be sure to stretch your calves afterward.

To take it a step further, lift one of your legs behind you, while you work the other calf. This is an advanced move, however, so don’t perform it before you’re ready.

Hamstring Curl

If your knee pain is really severe, you should avoid using gym machines. Instead, you can modify the exercise by doing the resistance band version.

To do so, tie a long resistance band to a steady surface, and then lie down on your belly. Wrap the band around your ankles, and then slowly bend your knees to test your position. If you can easily bend your knees toward your glutes, slide your body a bit farther away from the band to increase the resistance.

Once you’ve found your spot, activate your core, flex your feet, and slowly start lifting your feet toward your glutes. Keep control on the way down as much as you do on your way up. The slower you are, the harder it gets. Aim to do three sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Exercise Workout Bands, Set of Five

Perfect for hamstring curls and leg extensions.

Leg Extension

Another popular exercise that’s usually performed in the gym, you can also do leg extensions with resistance bands or other innovative pieces of equipment. When you’re dealing with knee pain—especially if it was caused by an injury—you’ll want to avoid using heavy weights and prevent potentially aggravating your symptoms.

The resistance band version of leg extensions is easy to perform. All you need is a chair or bench to sit on. Tie the resistance band to a steady pole or bench leg, and then sit on the far end away from it. Place the band around one of your ankles and either leave the other on the floor next to it, or use it as leverage and bend it behind you, as you come up high on the ball of your foot.

Place your hands on the edge of the chair or bench, and then slowly lift your leg in front of you, extending the quadriceps, and then slowly bend it back. If the band is too loose, move the seat a bit farther away.

Control your pace and allow your muscles to do all the work. Perform three sets of 12-15 repetitions per leg.

Prone Straight Leg Raises

Prone straight leg raises are a perfect way to isolate and strengthen your hamstrings and glutes. Plus, all you need to perform them is your own body weight.

To get started, lie down on your belly on an exercise mat and place your hands under your chin. Spread out your elbows and forearms so you can use them as leverage when performing the exercise.

Activate your quadriceps and extend your legs fully behind you, all the way to your toes. You can either point or flex your feet, but make sure to keep them active.

Inhale, and then slowly lift your legs behind you. As you exhale, slowly lower them with control. Avoid just dropping your feet and allow your muscles to do the work. You might experience some shaking, but that’s totally normal—just push through it.

If lifting both legs at the same time is too hard, start by lifting one at a time and really focusing on activating your leg muscles.

Amazon Basics 1/2-Inch Extra-Thick Exercise/Yoga Mat

The perfect padding for any type of exercise.

Wall Squats

Another exercise that can easily be performed when- and wherever is wall squats (or sits). Basically, all you need is a wall or a steady surface to rest your back against. Stand with your back against it and keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.

Step your feet slightly forward, keeping your back against the wall, and then bend your knees, as your back and pelvis remain against the wall. Hold for about 30 seconds at first, but try to work up to a full minute. Repeat three times in total.

To challenge yourself, just add a few more seconds to the amount of time you hold the position or place some books or ankle weights in your lap while you sit.


Another crowd favorite, step-ups really strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. They can also easily be performed anywhere there’s a step or slightly elevated surface, or you can buy one to take with you.

To start, stand in front of the step with your legs hip-width apart. Step forward with one leg, while you keep the other lifted. Exhale, and then come back to start. Inhale and step with your other leg. Continue to alternate for a total of 20 steps, and then repeat for three sets.

To challenge yourself, grab a set of dumbbells to increase the weight. If you have a stepping machine, try to work up to a full 20 minutes.

Tone Fitness Aerobic Step Platform

Create a step anywhere you need one.

Knee pain is incredibly common and debilitating. However, it’s absolutely not untreatable. Performing these simple exercises can help strengthen the muscles and tendons around your knee, and relieve all that tension. Just don’t forget to stretch some more and recover after each session.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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