Just because you have knee pain does not mean that you cannot workout. Our bodies need exercise to be healthy and happy.

One third of Americans report suffering for knee pain at some point. While the thought of exercise can seem overwhelming when you are in pain, simple exercises can help rebuild essential cartilage, strengthen muscles, and promote stability that helps alleviate your pain.

In this article, we listed safe cardio and strength building exercises to build healthier knees. Start building a healthy body!

Cardio Exercises for Sore Knees


Stationary Bike

Stationary bikes is a low-impact cardiovascular workout. The machine is often used for knee rehabilitation therapy. If you choose to use a stationary bike, make sure you maintain the correct form. Injuries can occur. Start by keeping a low speed, distance, and resistance.

Benefits of Stationary Bike:

  • Increases range of motion of the knee joint
  • Strengths muscles around the knee
  • Improve stability of the knee joint




Runners who can no longer run from knee pain, often use the elliptical to mimic a similar, low-impact movement. The machine allows you to add a safe amount of resistance for you knees.

Benefits of Elliptical Versus Treadmill for Your Knees

  • Using an elliptical machine can be less stressful on your knees, hips and back than is running on a treadmill. Walking on a treadmill, however, exerts about the same force as using an elliptical machine.
  • Unlike treadmills, some elliptical machines are equipped with movable upper body handles or poles, similar to ski poles. These allow you to exercise both your arms and your legs.
  • Most elliptical machines can be pedaled in reverse, which allows you to work your calf and hamstring muscles a bit more than does forward motion.



Swimming is a zero impact cardiovascular exercise which helps lubricate the joints. Swimming will also help strengthen and tone the muscles attached to the knee joint. It is important to note that since swimming is zero impact, it does not build bone cells which prevent osteoporosis. You should mix your swimming workout with another low impact. cardiovascular exercise.

Avoid breast stroke is you are suffering from knee pain. The wide strokes are high in resistance which can strain your knees. The best strokes for sore knees are back stroke and front crawl.


Speed Walking

People often have sore knees from cartilage loss. Walking creates compression and decompression that rebuilds the cartilage. In time, walking can alleviate joint pain in the knees.

Listen to your body when you walk! Watch out for the following warning signs that walking could be hurting your body:

  • Sudden increase in swelling
  • Pain so severe you can’t stand on one leg
  • Feeling unstable
  • Increased aches and pains

Stop walking immediately if you feel any of these side effects.

Speed walking

Strength Building Exercises for Sore Knees

Straight Leg Lifts

Strengthening the quadricep can help tone the front of the thigh which supports your knee. A Straight Leg Lift is a simple exercise for your quadricep.

How to Perform Straight Leg Lifts

  • Lie on the floor with your back on a flat surface
  • Bend one knee and place your foot flat on the floor
  • Keep the other leg straight. Flex the quad. Raise your leg to the height of the opposite leg.
  • Repeat 10-15 times. Switch sides. Do 3 sets on each side.

Leg Lifts



Hamstring Curls

You need to make sure you are strengthening each side of your thigh. Hamstring Curls builds the back of your thigh.

How to Perform a Hamstring Curl

  • Start on your hands and knees.
  • Bend one knee and bring it as close as you can to your butt.
  • Release. Switch sides. Perform 3 sets of 15 on each side.

Hamstring curl



Front Leg Extensions with a Resistance Band

Resistance bands force your body to stay stable throughout the entire workout. The stability is essential when caring for weak knees.

Front Leg Extensions with a Resistance Band challenges your quadriceps. You can tighten the band for the amount of weight that feels comfortable with your knee pain.

How to Perform Front Leg Extensions with a Resistance Band

  • Hold the resistance band with each hand and loop around foot.
  • Swing the band in a controlled kicking motion in front of your body. Keep your foot flexed and a slight bend in the knee.
  • 10-12 reps with each leg.

Leg Extensions


Calf Raises

It’s easy to forget about our calves when we are working out. However, calf exercises strengthen the muscles that surround and stabilize the knee. If you are suffering from knee pain, it is essential to strengthen your calves.

Calf Raises targets the largest, outermost muscle that is responsible for the shape and size of your calves.

How to Perform a Calf Raise

  • Stand on the edge of a step or platform.
  • Pull your abdominals in. Roll your shoulders back. Place the balls of your feet firmly planted on the step with your heels hanging over the edge.
  • Raise your heels a few inches and hold.
  • Release. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

calf raises

Scissor Kick

Scissor Kicks have the additional benefit of creating killer abs, as well as being safe for your knees! You need strong abs to optimize almost any exercise. Make sure you are incorporate ab exercises into your workout routine.

How to Perform a Scissor Kick

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs together and arms by your side.
  • With your forearms on the ground, lift your legs six inches and your shoulders one inch.
  • Holding that position, spread your legs apart, bring them back toward each other, then cross one leg over the other.

scissor kick