Simple stretches to alleviate knee & hip pain

Arthritis affects 3.85 million Australians, and is the major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia. It is an umbrella term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, specifically joints.

In Australia, there have been high growth rates reported particularly for hip and knee surgeries, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Surgery in Australian hospitals 2010-11. Almost 23% of all surgical procedures in Australia in 2010-11 were procedures on the musculoskeletal system, with one of the most common reasons for hospitalisation being knee disorders.

Whilst arthritis isn’t curable, it is manageable. Research suggests that early intervention can delay the onset of the disease and may reduce the number of cases of osteoarthritis in the future. One of the best things you can do for osteoarthritis, including hip and knee health is maintain an active lifestyle.

On the other hand, too much activity can be harsh on your joints, but there are some simple moves and stretches you can try, to protect your joints and to alleviate pain.

Multiple muscles overlap the knee and hip joints, so it’s important to stretch them all properly after a workout to keep them healthy.

Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Carly Ryan, shares six of the best pain-relieving stretches for your knees & hips:


1. Calf (gastrocnemius)

Stand facing a wall, a pole or other support.
Place both hands on the wall at chest level.
Put one foot behind you and keep that foot flat on the floor.
Bend your other knee and lean in towards the wall.
Repeat on the opposite side.


2. Gluteus medius stretch in supine

Lie on your back with your legs straight.
Bring your affected leg up and in towards you.
Using your arms, pull your knee across towards the opposite shoulder.
You should feel a stretch across the top of your buttocks.
Hold and then relax.

3. Hamstring stretch in stand

Place the foot of your affected leg onto a chair or step.
Keep your knee straight and foot pointing ahead.
Keeping your back straight, tip forwards from your hips, pushing your buttocks out behind you until you feel a stretch down the back of your thigh.
Hold this position.

4. TFL/ITB Stretch

Cross the good leg over the affected leg.
Push your affected hip out to the side as you lean away from it, keeping your chest up.
You should feel this stretch in the side of the hip and down the side of the thigh.

5. Piriformis stretch

Lie on your back and bend your affected knee.
Cross this leg over your other knee, placing the outside of your ankle just above the knee of your good leg.
Let the knee on your affected leg drop out to the side, and bend the good leg, sliding your heel towards your buttocks.
You may feel a stretch through your affected buttock.
To increase this stretch, interlace your fingers behind the thigh of your good leg, and pull your thigh in towards you, lifting the foot off the ground.
To increase this stretch further still, push your elbow into the thigh of your affected leg.
Hold this position.


6. Quadriceps stretch

Start in a standing position.
Use a desk for support, and raise one leg behind you grabbing hold of your ankle, or your lower leg.
Lift your leg as high as possible and try to keep your knee bent at a right angle.
Hold for a few seconds, and then repeat for the other leg.


Always consult an Accredited Exercise Physiologist if you have any concerns about exercising.