5 Exercises for Runners Knee Pain

5 Exercises Blog Image 1 (May)

Looking for the best exercises to help with runners knee pain? Well, you’re in the right place. Please go through these exercises in your own time. Weighted exercises are encouraged. If you don’t have a weight that’s OK. Enjoy! ?

1. Floors reaches 12 x 4 10kg weights

Best exercises for this will include hip dominant exercises. These would include all variations of the deadlift – but avoid knee focused exercises as they will irritate your knee.

2. Banded Hip Flexion 10 x 3 each leg

The best exercise for this is lying on your back, with exercise loops on your feet. Bring your knee to your chest and keep your knees at 90 Degrees – as shown in the photo. Sets of 12 on each leg, repeat 4 sets.

3. Single leg Hop Landing 8 x 3 each leg

Stand on a step on one leg. Hop down and land on the same leg. Control the landing and do not let your leg drift inwards. You can also practice this during single hop forward all on the same leg, concentrate on landing. Practices rounds of 8 reps x 5 sets (40 landings)

4. Side Plank 30–45 sec x 3 each side

Lying on side either with legs straight or knees bent. Elbow on the floor. Hip hips up in the air. Try not to bend forward. Push hips forward as much as you can. Brace core do not overarch your lower back, Hold 25 sec, rest 10 repeat 5 times each side. Increase the hold time as much as you can. You will notice a weakness on the injured side

5. Reverse Lunge 12 x 3 each leg

This exercise helps to avoid overloading the knee. The key is to step backwards and drop knee to floor. Step back far enough so that your side is vertical and not at an angle. Notice the straight line from the knee to hip to shoulder on the leg behind.
Repeat with a dumbbell in each hand for 10 reps, 4 sets on each leg.


So you’ve decided to get back into fitness or maybe up your training, get fitter with a newfound sense of motivation. Then 3 or 4 weeks into this new routine of exercise, your knee starts to act up. The feeling of despair overcomes you; this can’t happen. I’ve been going so well, I’m going to lose all my fitness again, what’s the point. Maybe I’m not cut out for running. Perhaps I’m too old.

I’ve been here many times. You’re just getting into your stride, your feeling more energised, and your knee ends up being a P****K. After careful thought, you decide you have two choices. Give it a rest for a week and try to run again or ignore it and see what happens.

Before we get into the options, we need to look at some stats and figures.

Your Training Plan

  • 90% of runners will run at a steady pace, give or take 10-20% difference in speed.
  • When we look at the overall picture of training, we see that most training is done at 55-75% of your maximum speed.

The Tragedy of life is not found in failure but in complacency. Not in you doing too much, but doing too little. Not in you living above your means, but below your capacity. It is not failure but aiming to low that is life greatest Tragedy.” – Benajim E Mays – American Rights Leader.

Training at 55-75% is an excellent range to train in once or twice a week. It is not a fantastic range to train in or the entire week. You need to add in speed work.

Speed work? Are you mad? But I’m only running 5-10km!

Here at ReSync physiotherapy, we look at your injury but also the cause of your injury.

Running at 55-75% speed targets two muscles: Your Quad muscle and Your Soleus muscle.
Now for the sake of keeping your muscles balanced and working together, you do not want to consistently work for one muscle group without working the opposite muscles – Glutes and Hamstrings.

When you run at faster speeds, two things happen:

  • Your stride length increases and you produce more force as your foot hits the ground at higher rates.
  • As you produce more force and your stride increases, you recruit different muscles to contend with the extra load.

These muscles are the Glutes and Hamstrings.

Finally, the last piece of the jigsaw that brings everything together is the rate at which your muscles fire.
If you are running at a slower pace, then your foot is in contact with the ground longer for each step. Your autonomic nervous system takes over at the faster pace; your running becomes automatic, i.e., you are not thinking about how you are running.


The problem with fear of injury is that most people don’t understand why they get injured. Most injuries occur due to fatigue. When we program high speed running into your training/rehab, we are not trying to make you tired; we expose your muscles and body to a fast pace for a short period (15 secs or less). Then we are giving you up to 90 seconds of rest. So you are fully recovered going into the next run. Thus minimising the risk of injury.

But what does this have to do with my knee? As you are running, a few things are happening:

  • Your foot and ankle absorb a lot of your body weight as your foot lands on the ground.
  • You quad then absorb the majority of the rest of your body weight that your foot doesn’t.
  • As your foot lands on the ground, your knee goes forward. To counteract this, your hamstring with fire to balance out the load.
  • As your body moves forward when your foot is on the floor, your hip muscles begin to stabilise as your torso comes over your foot.
  • Finally, your opposite leg comes forward for the next step causing the hip to stabilise further. All your weight is now moving forwards.

Now let’s look at potential problems if you are weak in your foot, knee or hip.

Your foot is exceptionally durable and robust, but if it becomes weak, this can cause many issues both in the foot and further up your hip. The most common causes are Achilles tendon pain, plantar fascia pain and anterior knee pain.

Knee- if your hamstrings are not strong enough to contend with the load and prevent abnormal knee mechanics, then you may develop knee pain.
Note- you may have tight hamstring, but this does not mean that they are strong.

Your hip muscles are strong power stabilisers as they control most of the weight of your torso as you run, walk, change direction.
A weakness here can affect everything from the lower back right down to your foot.
But it is never one muscle that is the problem. You always have to look at the entire picture and see what other areas of your body/ leg compensate for the original weakness.

I have Olympic level boxers in my clinic who don’t have basic control of their shoulder, which is an injury risk, but their muscles are so conditioning and resistant to fatigue that this pattern of control has balanced itself out.

Your body is an amazing machine; we are just here to make sure it is running correctly (excuse the pun 🙂

These runners knee pain exercises were created by Diarmuid Hegarty, Clinical Director Resync Physiotherapy, MICP MSc Physio, MSc Sports Med, NSCA.

Our team are here to answer any questions or queries you may have about your pain/injury.

We offer Free Consultation for people who are unsure if physiotherapy is right for them.

Kula Health