Exercises to Help Prevent Runners Knee

Happy Friday! It is here again. I’m working most of the weekend, but that’s okay by me.  I need it!

I realized that I hadn’t yet announced it on the blog, but Wes has decided to run Boston. We are really excited to get to go this year and enjoy all the fun events! He is going more for the experience then anything else.

Is anyone else going to Boston?! Would love to see some of you there! I’ve been playing around with the idea of doing a meet-up for lunch on Sunday. Please let me know if you would be interested! 



After our Wednesday run my husband start complaining about feeling like he has runner’s knee. He’s been having to really focus on it the past two days to get it to finally stop acting up.

What is runner’s knee?

The actual medical term for runner’s knee is patellofemoral pain syndrome.  If you are someone who has been running for a while, it is likely that you have experienced this at some time or another whether you knew it or not.

It can be caused by a wide variety of things such as: overuse, direct trauma to the knee, misalignment, problems with the feet, or most commonly week thigh muscles.


What are the symptoms?

  • Pain around or behind the knee cap
  • Pain when you bend your knee
  • Pain that is worse when walking downstairs or downhill
  • “Grinding” sensations in the knee


I’ve only dealt with this maybe once thankfully, but it is very common among runners everywhere. Below are a list of stretches and exercises I have put together to help both alleviate the pain of runners knee as well as help to prevent it all together.



1. Standing Hamstring Stretch

The best way to do this using a chair.  Stand facing a chair and place one heel on the seat of the chair with your leg straight out and your knee locked.  Keeping your back straight slowly lean forward.  Hold for 15-30 seconds.


2. Single Quadriceps Stretch

This is one you are probably very familiar with.  Stand and place one hand on a wall or table for balance.  Bend the opposite leg and grab the ankle with your free hand.  Pull gently up and back until you feel your thigh muscle tighten.  Hold it for 15-30 seconds.


4. Sitting Hamstring Stretch

I can guarantee you have done this stretch a time or two. Sit on the floor with one leg out in front and the other bent so that the foot touches the knee of the outstretched leg.  Keeping your back straight, lean forward and reach towards your toes. Hold for 15-30 seconds.


5. Basic Hamstring Stretch

Lie on your back with your legs extended out in front of you.  Keep your hips level and your lower back on the floor.  Bend one knee towards your chest, keeping your opposite leg extended on the floor.  Slowly straighten out your knee, grabbing the back of your leg with both hands. Pull your leg towards you gently while keeping your hips on the floor.  Hold for 15-30 seconds,.



Side-lying Leg Lift

Lie on the side that is  not causing you pain.  Tighten the front thigh muscle of your leg that is bothering you and left the leg 10 inches away from the other leg.  Keep the leg straight and lower it slowly. Repeat for 3 sets of 15.


Straight Leg Raise

Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you.  Bend your “good” knee and place the foot flat on the floor.  Tighten the thigh muscle on the leg with the knee pain and lift your leg about 8-10 inches off the floor.  Keep your leg straight and your tight muscle tightened the entire time.  Slowly lower you leg back down.  Repeat for 3 sets of 15.


Wall Squat with Ball

Stand with your back, shoulders and head resting against a wall.  Keep your feet about 3 feet from the wall and should width apart.  Place a soccer size ball behind your back.  Keeping your back against the wall, slowly squat down to a 45 degree angle.  Your thighs will not quite be parallel to the floor.  Hold for 10 seconds and then slowly rise back up.  Repeat 10-15 times.


Clam Exercise

Lie on the leg that is not causing pain.  Bend your hips and knees forward and place your feet together.  Slowly raise the top leg towards the ceiling while keeping your heels touching.  Hold for 2-3 seconds and lower slowly.  Repeat for 3 sets of 15.


Step Up

Stand with the foot of the injured leg on a support that is 3 to 5 inches off the ground.  Keep your other foot flat on the floor.  Shift your weight onto the injured leg on the support.  Straighten your leg as the other leg comes off the floor.  Return to the starting position by bending the injured leg and slowly lowering yourself back down. Repeat for 3 sets of 15.


Bonus tip…

Try using the stationary bike to help increase your leg strength and range of motion.  Make sure you have the bike set up properly so that when you are at the bottle of the pedal stroke your knee should be bent 15 degrees.


Have you ever dealt with runner’s knee?

Any plans for the weekend?


About Sara

Welcome to my blog! My name is Sara and this blog documents my journey as a wife and a runner. I train hard and put my heart and soul into my running. My life is a crazy journey full of ups and downs, and I am here to share it all with you!


  1. I’ve struggled with knee pain when I was marathon training, and it didn’t really go away even after I reduced my mileage. It’s pretty frustrating :(

  2. I don’t know if I’ve experienced Runner’s Knee, but when I’m running, I get to about the second mile of my run and my left knee just locks up and I have to walk it off for a few steps, then I feel better. Is that weird?
    Just got 4 inches of snow yesterday, and tomorrow is supposed to be 60! I’m doing something…. ANYTHING outside this weekend. :) Happy Friday!

    • That is strange! Does it do it every time you run? I know this weather is crazy! Hope you can enjoy the weekend outside! 60 sounds amazing!!

  3. Good news is that I don’t have knee issues….bad news is that I have a left hip issue :) This was an excellent post for everyone…even those that don’t have knee issues. A lot of those exercises help with any area of your body is that having trouble!

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  4. Awesome list of stretches and exercises! I’ve had runners knee before and it can be really discouraging when you’re working towards increased mileage. The family and I are headed to a medieval festival tomorrow! Heck yes you know I’ll be eating a turkey leg! Enjoy your weekend!

  5. Thanks for sharing these! I really need to get back into the stretching routine to prevent myself from getting more injuries!

  6. I am running Boston!! I will be in town. A meet up would be fun. My husband has been getting knee pain and I keep telling him to do these exercises but he just won’t listen. I rotate these exercises into my strength routine to help strengthen those muscles around my knee and keep the hips strong, since runners tend to have weak hips.

    • I will try to put something together and let everyone know! I’d love to see some of you there! I wish I was running, but I’m happy to be there cheering on my husband, you and all the other amazing runners!

      What?! A husband who doesn’t listen….never experienced that 😉

  7. I am running Boston too!!! I actually had surgery for this in 2011, my cartilage was pretty much completely worn down. I think for me, it all came down to the structure my knee and leg and just being predisposed to runner’s knee… ugh.But it’s fixed now and I have ran two marathons since the surgery! I am from Boston, let me know if you need advice on places to go, things to see, etc.

    • So exciting! I can’t wait to cheer all of you on and hopefully be there one of these days! I may take you up on your offer of places to go! Thanks :)

  8. There’s one that’s not on here! Getting properly fit for the right pair of running shoes is the MOST important of all the “stretches” I think :)

  9. This is great!! I don’t have knee problems, but this is very helpful to pass along!! So excited he’s going to run Boston!! Exciting!!

  10. I have struggled with knee pain for over a year now, and my PT actually recommended a lot of these stretches/exercised – they really help! Great post.

  11. Great post. I’ve been getting some weird knee pain that starts after runs around the outside of the kneecap. I’m assuming I just need to stretch more so I’ll definitely be incorporating some of these in!

  12. we know these all too well. But it’s a good thing i guess. We learn how to prevent now. KEY for the sport. GReat post

  13. Great Post Sara! Fortunately I have never suffered from it…touch wood, but as a coach, many of my athletes do, and these exercises are some of the ones I give them. Video demonstrations help a lot! Glad you are helping to prehab rather than rehab!

    I posted a video similar to this on my blog a few months ago with prehab exercises for runners based on the ones I do, you can check it out if you are bored later :)

    • Thank you Tina! I will definitely be checking that out. It sounds like something I would love to watch! I have to say you are so inspiring to me! I am really working hard to come back from injury and then work up to being faster in a healthy way. Your speed inspires me! :)

  14. I have suffered Runner’s Knee and taken physical therapy for it! I forgot about the wall sitting…that’s one of the exercises I used to do. It does seem like working on the quads and hams help a lot. Sometimes my knees still bother me, but things have gotten better! Always great to have tips handy, thanks!

  15. I’m dealing with PFPS, ITBand issues and hip issues!! It’s awful!

  16. I started to experience the “runner’s knee” and so bummed! How often should I do these exercises?

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