3 Best Resistance Band Exercises to Relieve Knee Pain

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: February 19, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Christiana Mikesch, CPT
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If you’re among the millions suffering from knee pain, you know that even walking up the stairs or bending down can become very painful.

Painful knees can result from many factors, from injury to arthritis, and I’ve seen my fair share of clients struggling with the same.

So, after extensive research and experience with clients, I have learned that some resistance band exercises can relieve knee pain quite significantly, which is why I curated a list of the most effective ones.

Let’s dive in.

Quick Summary

  • The three best resistance band exercises to relieve knee pain are front leg extension, terminal knee extension, and lying knee extension.
  • These exercises strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, improving stability and reducing pressure on the knees.
  • According to research published in PubMed, for these exercises, the recommended training intensity is about 2–3 sets of each exercise, with 10–15 repetitions per set, tailored to individual comfort and capability.
  • In my opinion, resistance bands are a low-impact yet highly effective method for strengthening knee muscles and reducing pain.

Best Resistance Band Exercises for Knee Pain Relief

Before we dive into our best resistance band exercises for knee relief, let’s take a look at how resistance bands work to reduce painful knees.

Do Resistance Bands Help With Knee Pain?

A woman using resistance band for her knee

Yes, resistance bands help with knee pain by improving stability and reducing inflammation.

They allow you to strengthen the tendons, connective tissue, and muscles surrounding your knees without the hard impact of free-weight exercises.

Knee strengthening exercises like lying hip extension, lying glute extension, and terminal knee extension require the use of a resistance band and help in rehabilitation after a knee injury.

In my training experience, I've seen how resistance bands significantly improve knee stability and reduce inflammation, offering real relief from knee pain.

Learn More: Exercises For Fat Knees

Top 3 Resistance Band Exercises To Relieve Painful Knees

A woman pulling resistance band from her feet

Here are the three essential exercises you shouldn't miss out on for relieving knee pain.

For beginners or those rehabilitating from knee injuries, it's crucial to start with lower resistance bands and focus on proper technique to avoid further strain. Ensure the band is correctly positioned to prevent slipping and undue pressure on the joints.

Also Read: Best Exercise for Arthritic Knees

1. Front Leg Extension

From my coaching, front leg extensions with a band have been a game-changer for strengthening the quadriceps and supporting knee muscles.

You can modify the intensity of the exercise by adding ankle weights or using a heavier band.

Here’s how to perform it: 

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Wrap the resistance band around the heel and hold onto the ends of the band.
  3. Keeping your back straight, lift your leg as high as possible while maintaining tension on the band.
  4. Hold the contraction for 1–2 seconds before slowly lowering your leg.
  5. Repeat for 1015 repetitions before switching legs.

Learn More: Resistance Band Leg Workout 

2. Terminal Knee Extension

Using resistance band for knee

The terminal knee extension is a rehabilitation strength training exercise focusing on the quads and improving the knee joint’s range of motion.

I often recommend terminal knee extensions to clients post-rehab, as they're fantastic for targeting the quads and aiding recovery.

It can reduce pain and improve stability in the knee joint.

To perform the exercise:

  1. Sit on a bench with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight.
  2. Loop a resistance band around the ankle of one leg, and secure the other end of the band to the leg of the bench.
  3. Slowly extend your knee, lifting your foot off the ground while keeping your thigh in contact with the bench.
  4. Hold the position for a few seconds, keep your knee straight, and slowly lower your foot back to the initial position.
  5. Repeat the movement and switch between the right and left legs.

3. Lying Knee Extension

The lying knee extension strengthens the hip flexors in the thighs, improves stability, and reduces pressure on the knee joint.

It can also aid in post-injury or post-surgery rehabilitation.

Lying knee extensions have proven effective in my sessions for strengthening hip flexors, which are crucial for knee support.

Here are the steps to perform the lying knee extension exercise:

  1. Lie flat on your back on a comfortable surface, like a yoga mat.
  2. Bend one knee and place your foot flat on the ground while keeping the other leg straight.
  3. Slowly lift the straight leg off the ground, keeping your knee as straight as possible.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position.
  5. Switch to the other leg and repeat.

Why Should You Use Resistance Bands?

Using resistance band

In my experience, using resistance bands for knee pain is a low-impact, highly effective method for strengthening knee muscles.

Resistance band exercises improve mobility and reduce pain in the knee, making resistance band exercises an effective form of physical therapy after a knee injury.

“Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for knee pain.”

- Dr. Lauren Elson, Physical Medicine Instructor

Studies published in PM&R: The Journal of Injury, Function, and Rehabilitation report that resistance exercise can enhance physical ability, alleviate osteoarthritis-related pain, reduce injury risks, and lower self-reported disability by fortifying the muscles surrounding the knee joint [1].

Regularly incorporating resistance band exercises into your fitness routine can play a significant role in preventing future knee injuries. These exercises strengthen the knee joint and surrounding muscles, making them more resilient against strains and sprains.

Training Intensity

Doing squats with resistance band

I always advise my clients to tailor the intensity of knee exercises to their fitness levels for the best results.

Different colored resistance bands indicate varying tensions. Beginners should opt for lighter bands.

Aim for 2–3 sets of 10–15 reps each, tailoring to your comfort and capability, based on the research published in PubMed [2].

Gradually increase the resistance or number of repetitions to continue challenging the muscles surrounding the knees.

FAQs

Can Resistance Bands Strengthen Knees?

Yes, resistance bands can strengthen the knees by providing resistance in exercises that target the muscles surrounding the knees, such as the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and shin muscles.

What Is the Best Band Stretch for the Knee?

The best band stretch for the knee is the front leg extension. They strengthen the quads, which are crucial for knee joint function and stability.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3635671/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18821647/
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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