Leg exercises

Resistance Exercise and Knee Pain

Knee pain is often a reason given for preventing many people from participating in regular exercise. Pain can be felt in the knees for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, age-related degeneration, osteoarthritis, overuse or injury.

The good news is that regular exercise of the right type can restore muscle strength, improve joint mechanics (how the joint works) and prevent further damage*.

Resistance training, or moving your muscles against a load, helps to stabilise the knee joint, improves muscle control and can help to reduce pain. Even those who are waiting for knee surgery can benefit from participating in resistance exercises. Pre-operation exercise can help to strengthen muscles and reduce pain prior to surgery as well as improving recovery and rehabilitation post-surgery.

When performing resistance exercises it is important to:

  • Monitor your pain levels before, during and after activity (pain should not be increased and carry over to the next day),
  • Have a day of rest should your knee pain flare up,
  • Progress load periodically to allow time for muscles to adapt and
  • Include a variety of exercises to keep motivated and avoid overworking one area.

Remember everyone is different and has differing ability and pain levels. If you are worried about the exercises appropriate for you speak with an Exercise Physiologist who can provide you with the appropriate advice. Call our Customer Care Line on 1300 342 238 to find an Exercise Physiologist near you.

Examples of resistance exercises for knee pain:

Hip Adduction


Hip Abduction with Theraband


Toe Press (Calf Raises- hold onto a chair if you need for balance)



*Vincent, K & Vincent H 2012, Resistance exercise for knee osteoarthritis, Journal of Injury, Function & Rehabilitation, vol. 4, no. 5, pp. S45-S52.