Four Exercises to Help Seniors Suffering From Knee Pain

Updated on May 9, 2018

Knee pain is a common complaint among senior citizens, and, unfortunately, it often goes untreated.

This is due in part to the fact that, for seniors, surgery for knee pain is quite expensive and often doesn’t help. In fact, it usually creates more problems than it solves since recovering from surgery is much more difficult for seniors than it is for younger people.

Instead of going under the knife, many seniors can benefit from implementing exercises into their routine that help strengthen the muscles around the knee

Read on to learn four exercises that can help seniors relieve knee pain and maintain an active lifestyle.

Common Causes of Knee Pain

Before you implement exercises to try and treat knee pain, it’s important to first determine the cause of knee pain. Some common conditions that contribute to knee pain in senior citizens include:

  • Tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons in the knee joint)

  • Bursitis (inflammation of the bursae, a sac of fluid that allows the joint to move smoothly)

  • Chondromalacia (softening and wearing down of the cartilage in the knee)

  • Meniscal tears (a tear in the cartilage that often contributes to inner knee pain)

  • Osteoarthritis (inflammation of the joints that is often brought on by age, wear and tear, and/or weight gain)

Exercises to Treat Knee Pain

1. Standing Hamstring Curls

Strong hamstrings promote good balance and posture and also help support the knees and back when bending and lifting.

To do standing hamstring curls, start by standing up straight while holding onto a chair or countertop for balance. Shift your weight over to your left foot and bend your right knee to draw your foot toward your glute. Hold this contracted position for a couple seconds, then slowly lower your foot back down. Repeat ten times, then switch legs.

If you need to make the exercise more challenging, add some light ankle weights. You can also take away the chair to practice your balance.

2. Leg Extensions

Leg extensions help strengthen the quads, which are essential for supporting the knee joint as you perform activities like walking, climbing the stairs, and bending over to lift objects.

Leg extensions can be performed while sitting on a kitchen chair or bench. Sit up straight with both feet planted on the floor. Slowly straighten your right leg, doing your best to raise is so it is parallel to the floor. Hold for five seconds, the lower your leg.

Repeat ten times, then switch legs. You can also add ankle weights.

3. Step-Ups

This is another functional exercise that will strengthen the quads and help you climb stairs more easily. It also provides a light cardiovascular workout, which is necessary for good heart health.

Start by standing at the base of a staircase. Hold on to a railing or chair for extra support.

Raise your right foot and place it on the step, lifting your body up after it but keeping your back leg slightly lifted (this helps your right quadricep get more of a workout). Slowly lower back down and repeat ten times before switching sides.

Make sure you’re not cheating by pushing off your back foot — you might even want to try and keep it elevated the whole time to really work your front leg.

4. Calf Raises

Calf raises help strengthen the lower part of the knee, but strong calf muscles are also important for protecting and supporting the entire knee joint.

To do calf raises, stand up straight next to a wall or chair with your feet hip-distance apart and toes facing forward.

Slowly rise onto your toes, keeping your ankles in line (don’t let them rock in or out) and your back straight. Hold the elevated position for a couple of seconds, squeezing the calf muscle at the top of the movement, then slowly lower back down. Repeat 10-15 times.


By strengthening the muscles around the knees, seniors can make a big dent in their knee pain and improve their quality of life. These four exercises are a great place to start since they don’t require any equipment and can be done from the comfort of your own home.



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