Stiff knees: exercises to counter them

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Robert Maurer

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The phenomenon of stiff knees is part of the family of joint stiffness and it can have several causes.

To alleviate or prevent it, sport and physical activity they can play a fundamental role, as long as they are carried out correctly and under the advice and control of your doctor, who evaluates the most suitable movements for each individual case.

What are joint stiffness

Suffering from stiff joints means living in a situation where you do fatigue, or even it is not possible at all to move one or more joints.

This disorder can be sporadic and intermittent or continuous, and be accompanied by other problems such as pain, inflammation, cramps and soreness.

Between the joints, the knee is among the most prone to stiffness.


A cause joint stiffness, including knee, can be several factors.

Joints generally tend to stiffen with the years go by and with the onset of aging and a reduction in mobility.

Other triggers, this time regardless of age, could be the return to mobility after a long period of inactivity; injury or trauma such as dislocations, sprains or fractures; obesity serious, the performance of particular activities, excessive physical exertion, tissue wear and overuse of the knee joints and muscles.

Finally, joint stiffness may also be due to the presence of some pathologies including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, hepatitis, leukemia, systemic lupus erythematosus and mononucleosis.


Joint stiffness can be the cause of hot knees after training. 

Exercises to counteract stiff knees

If you are not in the presence of particular pathologies or conditions to be treated in a specific and more in-depth way, strengthening the hamstrings, quadriceps, and others that support the knees could be a great move because this protects the joint from the stress and shock of movement, counteracting its rigidity and improving its mobility and flexibility.

To do so, they exist stretching and stretching exercises particularly suitable.

Leg lift

  • Lie on your back, with your right leg extended and your left leg bent and with the sole of your foot resting on the ground.
  • Slowly raise your right leg as you squeeze your thigh muscles.
  • Hold the position for two or three seconds, then return to the starting position.
  • Do three sets of ten reps per leg, alternating sides.

As you perform this exercise, keep your abs in traction, as if pulling your navel towards your spine.

Quadriceps stretch

  • Stand in front of the back of a chair or against a wall.
  • Place one hand on the support to maintain balance.
  • Bend one knee back, lift the corresponding foot, grasp the ankle with the hand and bring the heel towards the buttocks.
  • At this point in the exercise you should feel the pull of the quadriceps muscle in the front of the thigh.
  • Maintain the position for 30 seconds, then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat three times for each leg, alternating sides.

This exercise improves knee flexibility.

Wall squat

  • From a standing position, lean your back against the wall and spread your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Perform a squat by bending the knees to slowly lower the body, keeping the back straight attached to the wall.
  • Once you get your knees bent at a 30 degree angle, hold the position for five to ten seconds, depending on your training level, then slowly rise back to the starting position.

This exercise DON'T it is particularly indicated for people who, in addition to stiffness, suffer from pain to the knee.

Stretching of the hamstrings

when the hamstrings are thesis may be difficult to fully straighten the knee. The following exercise can help loosen this muscle band.

  • Sit on the floor, keeping your back straight.
  • Extend your legs in front of you and relax your feet.
  • Place your palms on the floor and stretch as far as possible towards your ankles.
  • Maintain the position for 30 seconds, then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat three times for each leg.

As you perform these movements, you should feel a pulling sensation in the hamstrings and a stretch behind the knees. If you feel pain or feel too much traction while trying to reach your ankles with your palms, stop. Finally, avoid arching your back or locking your knees.

Kicks in the water

  • Cling to the edge of the pool and let your legs float.
  • Gently kick your legs back to stretch the hamstrings and quadriceps.
  • Continue for the desired repetitions.
  • Exercising in the water using buoyancy relieves stress on the joints.

This movement does work the muscles and flex the knee joints in the same way as squats, but without the added tension of gravity.

Before starting, however, it is always better to do five or ten minutes of warm-up to prepare the muscles, doing a low-impact activity such as walking.


It is also helpful to do foot exercises and train weak ankles with specific exercises. 

There are also targeted exercises to strengthen the hips. 

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