How To Exercise With A Knee Injury?

Keeping an injured knee active is key to a fast recovery, but knowing how to exercise with a knee injury can be tricky.

Depending on the severity of your injury there’s a good chance you can continue exercising. And in most cases some sort of activity that involves that knee is vital to recovery, especially when arthritis is the problem.

Whether you are exercising your way to recovery from surgery or exercising on through an injury, these simple workouts will aide your knee.

Find out what knee sleeves do on this page and if you think they would aid in your recovery.

Exercise will speed recovery time, increase the strength of all surrounding muscles which will help protect it from future injuries. So, let’s see how to get started and which exercises provide the best results for a knee injury.

Always Warmup First

Warming up cold muscles prior to any exercise is the key to injury prevention. You never want to go straight from tight and cold muscles and joints to exercise without increasing blood circulation first.

Wearing a knee sleeve on your injured knee will help bring blood to the area and warm it faster and more completely. This page reviews knee sleeves for running, but they are the exact sleeves that could help with injuries.

Warm-ups of any kind will help lessen the current damage, so you can’t afford to miss this step. This warm up period could be anything from simply standing in place and lifting your leg from the knee a number of times, to more advanced stretching routines.

1. Straight Leg Raises

Woman demonstrating straight leg exercises with knee injury for exercise
Straight leg exercise is a simple but effective exercise for knee injury recovery

Straight leg raises are about as simple as it gets, but the best place to start. The first step is to lay flat on your back. If you like you can put your head on a pillow, or even prop up on your elbows.

Once in position and comfortable, get one foot flat on the floor with your knee bent. Now straighten the other and lift your foot from the floor with your toes pointed to the ceiling. Tighten up your stomach muscles and the muscles on top of the thigh as you lift.

Do 10 repetitions with each leg, and do several sets with each leg.

2. Hamstring Curls

For this exercise, I use a dining room chair. Just stand behind any chair that you can put your hands on for balance while standing straight up.

Spread your feet apart to help maintain your balance and bend one knee. Your calf and foot is now behind you as you lift your foot up and towards your butt. Just lift it as high as you can and hold it there for a few seconds and let it back to the floor slowly and controlled.

Do 15 repetitions with the first leg and then the other. You can actually do the same exercise lying down, which comes in handy since you’re already on the floor.

3. Prone Straight Leg

After the hamstring curls, roll over onto your stomach with legs straight out behind you. Lift one leg to the sky as you engage and tighten your butt and hamstring muscles.

When you have that leg lifted as high as possible, without straining yourself, hold it there for about 5 seconds before slowly lowering it. Do this 5 times with each leg and remember that the key is control.

Control both the lifting and lowering of your legs and go slow without allowing them to drop to the floor uncontrollably.

4. Side Leg Raises

Woman demonstrating side leg lifts exercises for knee injuries
Lie all the way down, or prop up on your elbow for side leg lifts

The last exercise to do with an injured knee is to raise your leg from lying on your side. So, from the last move, now lie on your side. It’s best to bend the leg on the bottom from the knee slightly.

Now, while on your side, lift the top leg as high as you can. Keep the leg straight and your foot ridgid and pointed. Don’t let your foot hang limp as you raise and lower it to a 45° angle.

Hold your leg at the 45° angle for about 5 seconds and then slowly bring it back to the floor. Repeat the move 5 times for each leg.


There, you have it. Do the simple exercises above with a knee injury or for prevention. Each of them increases muscle mass and tone in your legs which is important for evenly distributing body weight and absorbing stress and stain. Start out slow and work your way back to full mobility.

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