The Best Exercises For Runners Knee 

No matter if you’re a beginner training for a major race like the Boston Marathon or an experienced runner used to running every other day all year long, suffering an injury can be disastrous.

As the name suggests, runner’s knee is one of the most typical running ailments and one of the most difficult to recover from once it occurs.

The Best Exercises for Runners Knee

Generally caused by overtraining or highly intense training sessions, this injury can be inconvenient to any runner. 

Training sessions being brought down by this injury? Keep reading to find out the best exercises to start helping you get over a case of runner’s knee. 

1. Roll Down 

This exercise will help stretch out those stiff hamstrings and lower back. Taking pressure off the muscle in the front of the knee  (quadriceps tendon) and alleviating the pain when running. 

To complete this exercise simply:

Standing tall, bend your head, chest, and trunk downward while you steadily and gently reach for your toes.

When you’ve gone as far as you can, softly contract your glutes and slowly start to curl back up. Imagine stacking the various parts of your spine one above the other.

Complete this exercise a total of ten times to fully stretch the hamstrings and begin strengthening the lower back. 

2. Bulgarian Split Squat 

Bulgarian Split Squats helps improve single-leg balance while working the glutes, quads and hip flexors. This exercise may be more difficult for those with extreme knee pain and can be performed without the added weight of dumbbells. 

How to: Put one foot on a low bench and slowly squat up and down while holding a weight in the other hand. Maintain a nearly vertical shin and a knee that is parallel to the ground.

Perform this exercise for 15 reps per leg for 2 rounds. As you begin to develop strength in your glutes, hips and knees you can start adding additional weight. 

3. Fire Hydrant

Completing the fire hydrant activates your gluteus medius, or a muscle on your hip, and starts helping to stabilise the pelvis. This will reduce the amount of force causing your knee to rotate as you run. 

How to: Put a resistance band around your knees, stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent, and slowly lift and bring back the other leg.

This exercise can also be performed kneeling on all fours to allow focus to be given to the hip flexor muscles.  

Complete the fire hydrant for 15 reps per leg for a total of 2 rounds. 

4. Bent Knee Heel Raise

This exercise is one of the most important exercises for building muscle strength around the knee. Bent knee heel raises activate the soleus muscle which protects the knee by absorbing the shock as your foot lands while running. 

The Best Exercises for Runners Knee

To complete this exercise: Touching the wall softly with your fingertips will help you balance as you stand on one leg. Lift and lower yourself on your toes while maintaining a little bend in the knee of your standing leg.

Holding a weight in your hand will make it harder. However, using your own body weight will still help you build muscle. 

Complete bent knee heel raises for 15 reps on each leg for a total of 3 sets. You’ll begin to notice muscle development within calves and see more flexibility in your ankles. 

5. Elevated Single-Leg Glute Bridge 

Performing this exercise will help strengthen and activate your glutes. You can use this exercise to aid hip extension and begin supporting the knee when running

How to: Lay on your back with the other leg extended, one foot on a low bench. Driving into the heel, clench your glutes and pull your hips up as high as possible without arching your back. Hold for a moment, then gradually reduce. 

Strengthening your glutes will give you that much needed strength to continue running. 

Repeat this exercise 15 times on each leg for 3 sets. 

6. Hip Flexor Stretch 

This stretch is perfect for warming up before a long run. Stretching the quadriceps and hip flexors to help take pressure off the patella, or kneecap. 

How to: Put a pad beneath your knee and one foot on a low bench in front of you while high kneeling (with your torso vertical and your back straight). To concentrate the stretch on your anterior thigh, keep your pelvis tucked under your body.

Hold this position for 40 seconds on each side for a total of 3 rounds. 

Final Thoughts 

Stretching and strengthening the kneecap and the surrounding muscles is important when recovering from a knee injury. 

Performing these exercises regularly will help relieve the pressure placed on your knee as you run, helping you become your best self!

Take it slow whilst doing these exercises, specifically weight exercises to avoid further injury. 

You can finally get back in the race!

Richard Harris