Exercise

Knee exercises for runners

These knee strengthening exercises will help with your running, strengthen the muscles around the knee and prevent knee pain.

The exercises strengthen all the muscles supporting the knee and stretch out the iliotibial band, known as the ITB, which runs down the outside of the thigh.

They can be done as part of your warm-up before a run or as a cool-down routine after a run, outside or indoors, or whenever is most convenient.

Typically, you should start to see some benefits after 2 weeks of doing these knee exercises every day.

You should not feel any pain when doing these exercises. If you do, stop immediately and seek medical advice. These exercises are not suitable for people with an existing knee injury.

Knee bends – 3 sets of 10 repetitions (reps)

Tip: place a Swiss ball between your back and the wall for smooth movement

Thigh contraction – 3 sets of 15 seconds with each leg

Tip: for more of a challenge, perform with an ankle weight

Straight leg raises – 3 sets of 10 reps with each leg

Tip: for more of a challenge, perform with an ankle weight

Hamstring stretch with thigh contraction – 3 sets of 15 seconds with each leg

Tip: keep your back straight and bend from the hips – you can do the move looking straight ahead or looking straight down

ITB (iliotibial band) – 3 sets of 15 seconds with each leg

Tip: don't bend forwards or stick your buttocks out. You should feel the stretch along your outer right thigh and hip.

Squats – 3 sets of 10 reps

Single leg squat – 3 sets of 5 reps with each leg

Tip: if you can perform these confidently, you can progress on to the wide stance single leg squat

Wide stance single leg squat – 3 sets of 5 reps with each leg

Tip: don't let your knees extend over your toes.

Lunges – 3 sets of 5 reps with each leg

Tip: for more of a challenge, perform these lunges while walking

Couch to 5K running plan

New to running? Couch to 5K gets you off the sofa and running in just nine weeks.

The One You Couch to 5K app gives you a choice of running coaches and helps you track your progress.

As well as Laura who features on the NHS Couch to 5K podcasts, you can also be coached by celebrities Jo Whiley, Sarah Millican, Sanjeev Kohli or Michael Johnson.

Page last reviewed: 22/11/2017
Next review due: 22/11/2020