Knee pain from arthritis doesn't mean you should stop moving your knee. In fact, for most people it's important to keep using the affected joint.

See Knee Pain and Arthritis

Exercise can reduce pain, increase flexibility and range of motion, and help maintain function. This is true whether your knee is affected by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or one of the dozens of other varieties of arthritis.

See Knee Exercises for Arthritis

See how knee osteoarthritis causes the knee's cartilage to degenerate. Watch: Knee Osteoarthritis Video

Doing the following knee stretches once or twice a day can keep your knee flexible and cartilage healthy.

These stretches are safe for most people with knee arthritis, but it's always best to check with your doctor before you begin a new exercise routine.

Stretch 1: Standing quadricep stretch

  • Stand next to a wall with your left hand on it for balance and bend your right knee to bring your foot up.
  • Reach behind you with your right hand and grab your ankle. Then slowly pull your ankle up and back, away from your buttock.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds twice on each side.

Watch: Video: Standing Quadriceps Stretch for Knee Arthritis Pain Relief


Stretch 2: Hip flexor stretch

  • Kneel with your left knee and your right foot on the floor. Your left shin should be flat on the floor and positioned further back than your shoulders, and your right knee should be bent at a 90 degree angle.
  • Rest your hands on your right knee and lean forward over your right knee, keeping your back straight. Don't lean further than the end of your toes.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds three times on each side.

Watch: Video: Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch for Arthritis Pain Relief

The forward fold stretch strengthens the hamstrings, which support the knee. See: Knee Stretches

Stretch 3: Forward fold

  • Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly bend forward from the waist. Keep your legs as straight as possible and don't bounce.
  • Don't worry if you can't reach the floor; you can even reach for a chair cushion to start if that's what your flexibility allows.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds three times.

Watch: Video: Forward Fold Hamstring Stretch for Knee Arthritis Pain Relief

Stretch 4: Calf stretch

  • Stand facing the wall about two paces away and place both hands on the wall.
  • Step forward with your right foot but keep your left leg straight and extended back, with your heel on the ground.
  • Lean forward until you can feel the pull on the back of your left calf. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds three times for each leg.
  • To stretch the other main muscle in your calf, do the same stretch but bend your left knee slightly.

Watch: Video: Standing Calf Muscle Stretch for Knee Arthritis Pain Relief

Learn more

Knee Strengthening Exercises

Gentle Stretching Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Carrie DeVries worked as the content marketing manager at Veritas Health. She combined a background of writing and editing, marketing, and patient education to best serve the consumers, patients, and physicians who rely on Veritas Health for information.