8 Most Effective Knee Osteoarthritis Exercises

Knee osteoarthritis is a highly prevalent joint degenerative disease that mostly shows symptoms in people aged 45 or older. The condition might occur due to loss of space between adjacent knee joint bones. In some instances, you may develop bone spurs due to calcification. It leads to mild to severe knee pain and inability to perform everyday activities. If left untreated, you may have to undergo knee joint replacement surgery to manage this condition. However, knee osteoarthritis exercises have proven to treat this debilitating condition successfully.

You’ll find the seven best exercises for knee osteoarthritis in this article. Here’s what to expect:

Knee Osteoarthritis Exercises

The primary goal of knee osteoarthritis exercises is to reduce the pain associated with the condition by strengthening the muscles around the joint. The strengthened muscles then take over the knee joint’s workload to balance the forces acting upon the diseased structure.

Following are the eight knee exercises for arthritis:

Ankle Pumps

Ankle pumps are among the basic arthritic knee exercises to initiate your treatment regime. This exercise helps to stretch your tight knee flexors, such as the hamstring muscle.

The steps to perform ankle pumps are as follows:

  • Lie on a flat in a supine position with your knees extended.
  • Then, move the foot of an affected knee towards your body.
  • Next, move your ankle away from your body. 
  • Repeat this rhythmic motion 10 to 15 times, twice or thrice daily.

Toe Touching

Toe touching is a stretching exercise to reduce tightness in your hamstring muscles. This exercise also elevates the range of motion of knee movement.

The steps to implement toe touching exercise include:

  • Find a bed or couch and lie down in a long sitting position with a back straight and limbs extended.
  • Now, move your back forward and touch your toes with the help of your hand
  • Hold this posture for 5 seconds without bending your knees
  • Repeat these steps 5 to 10 times, twice or thrice every day

Static Quads

Static Quads count as one of the effective knee exercises for arthritis. It enables your weak muscle knee extensors (quadriceps muscles) to strengthen by doing isometric contraction. 

The steps to do static quads include:

  • Lie on a flat and smooth surface, such as your bed, with your legs straight
  • Now, place a cushion under your knee joint and press against it until you feel the contraction on your thigh
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat this movement 5-10 times, twice or thrice daily.

Straight Leg Raise

Straight leg raise (SLR) falls under knee osteoarthritis exercises for strengthening quadriceps muscles. It also stretches the hamstring muscle to increase the range of motion of the knee joints. 

The steps to execute a straight leg raise exercise consist of the following:

  • Lie flat on your bed with your knee extended. 
  • Now, raise your affected leg straight without bending your knee.
  • Hold with position for 5 seconds.
  • Redo these steps at least 5 to 10 times, twice or thrice daily.

Gluteal Press

Unlike other knee osteoarthritis exercises, gluteal presses are intended to train hip muscles that can support hamstring muscles during knee flexion.

The steps to do a glute press are:

  • Lie on your bed or couch with your stomach facing up and your knee extended.
  • Now, take a cushion or towel and place it under your buttocks.
  • Then, press the towel downwards with your gluteal muscles.
  • Hold this contraction for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat the same movement 5 to 10 times, twice to thrice every day.

Adductor Squeeze

Adductor squeeze is a part of advanced knee osteoarthritis exercises. It aids in strengthening hip adductors by stimulating their muscle action.

The steps to do an adductor squeeze are as follows:

  • Lie on a smooth surface such as your mattress or couch with your knees straight 
  • Now, bend both your knees
  • Then, place a towel or ball between your bent knees
  • Next, close your both knees together by pressing the ball
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds
  • Repeat this movement for at least 5 to 10 times, twice or thrice daily

Quads Drill

Quad drills can be performed with the help of a gym machine or manually. It works to train quadriceps muscles against weight.

The steps required to do a quads drill include:

  • Sit on your bed with your knee 90 degrees flexed.
  • Now, take a 0.5 kg ankle weight and wear it above your ankle joint. 
  • Then, raise your lower leg until it is completely straightened or extended
  • Next, once you reach your maximum knee extension, put your legs into the normal position
  • Repeat this exercise 5 times, twice to thrice daily


Once you’re comfortable doing other advanced knee osteoarthritis exercises, let’s move to the most difficult one: squat. It is designed to strengthen all your quadriceps, hamstring, and gluteal muscles simultaneously.

Follow these steps to carry out squats exercise:

  • Stand with your knee extended and back supported by the wall.
  • Now, take a one-hand distance between both your feet and rotate your toes slightly outside so your knees are externally rotated.
  • Then, cross both arms over your chest and perform knee flexion by 10 to 15 degrees initially, with your back supported.
  • Hold this posture for 5 seconds and then extend your knees to go into the starting position.
  • Repeat these steps 5 times, twice or thrice daily.

Knee Osteoarthritis Physical Therapy in NYC

At MOCEAN Therapy, our team of experienced physical therapists assesses your knee joint before applying any treatment strategy. 

We intend to implement modern electrical modalities, including cryotherapy and red light therapy, to heal knee pain. Our manual therapist will incorporate joint play to increase the range of motion of your knee joints.

Additionally, we will recommend the best physiotherapy exercises for knee osteoarthritis that improve your condition effectively.

The Bottom Line

Knee osteoarthritis is a painful condition that limits your mobility and restricts you from doing tasks of daily living due to narrow joint space and weakened muscle. Therefore, by performing knee osteoarthritis exercises, you train your muscles to work against gravity for long-standing hours without causing knee pain and tightness. 

Therefore, to get rid of this knee osteoarthritis non-surgically, contact us today online to get effective physical therapy for knee osteoarthritis in NYC, USA. 

Then we create a health plan tailored to your needs.

Based on the results, we develop a personalized treatment plan for each individual to promote optimal health. With 1-on-1 consultations, cutting-edge technology, and a team of experts who care about getting you better, MOCEAN offers you a comprehensive road map on how to become the healthiest version of yourself.