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Knee Exercises

Runners Knee Exercises (Strengthening Exercises)

Minute Read


Posted 1 year ago


Last updated: 04/12/2022


by James McCormack

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is also known as “Runners Knee” due to its high prevalence in runners. This is a painful condition of irritation of the patella, pain is felt behind the knee cap. Bending and straightening of the knee moves the patella over the knee joint and its contact against the femur changes. Because the patella sits in the quadriceps tendon, its position across the joint can change depending on the tightness of the quadriceps muscle and iliotibial band, and the strength of the glutes and medial quadriceps muscles. These differences in the muscles are only some of the contributing factors that can result in runner’s knee pain. You can read more about risk factors in the related article: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runners Knee).

Strengthening Exercises for Runners Knee

Rehab for runner’s knee involves addressing areas of muscular tightness and weakness as well as movement quality to improve the biomechanics of the knee.

Below is a collection of exercises that are commonly prescribed for runner’s knee, as they strengthen muscles that are commonly weak. However, every person and injury is unique and assessment with a physical therapist is fundamental to ensure you have the best rehabilitation for your needs.

Related article: Runners knee stretches

Diagram of patellofemoral joint anatomy

Exercise Prescription

The following exercises should be done under the guidance of a physical therapist. These are common exercises prescribed for commonly weak muscles, for those with patellofemoral pain syndrome. These should be pain-free to perform or have very low pain which resolves quickly after completing the sets.

1x daily or alternate days

12x repetitions

3x sets


Inner Range Quads

Sit with your knee resting on a foam roller or thick pillow. Push your knee down into the roller or pillow and straighten your knee, lifting your ankle off the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds, relax, and repeat.

You should feel you quadriceps working.

Long Lever Bridge

Lying on your back with your heels, hip-width apart and your knees bent to 30º. Tilt your pelvis backwards, to flatten your back against the floor and continue to curl and lift your pelvis off the floor.

You should feel your glutes and hamstring working.


Lying on your side with your ankles together, and knees bent to about 30º. Tip your pelvis forwards and keep it still while you lift your top knee to open you legs.

You should feel you glutes working.

Hip Abduction

Lying on your side with a resistance band around your ankles. Keep your bottom leg slightly bent, to help with stability, and your top leg straight. Lift your leg up and backwards into the resistance band.

You should feel your glutes working.

Wall Sit

Stand a little in front of a wall. Sit with your back flat against the wall. You want to have your knees above your ankles and bent to 30-60º. The greater the knee bend the harder it will be.

You should feel your quadriceps working.

Shallow Squat with Resistance Band

As symptoms improve a good progressive exercise from the wall sit is a shallow squat. Stand with your feel about hip-width apart, lower your pelvis down and back into a shallow squat. Using a resistance band to push your thighs out into will engage the glute muscles also.

You should feel your quads and glutes working.

Physiotherapy with James McCormack

This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.

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