How to strengthen knees for running

How to strengthen knees for running - main image

Using knee strengthening exercises for knee pain, hip and knee strengthening, and knee injury.

Just imagine – you’re running, you’re moving towards your PB and feel absolutely great. You’ve woken up early, your mental game is on point and you’re moving ever closer to your fitness goals.

And then…

Your left leg begins to feel funny. You limp, just slightly, and then the pain becomes traceable – your knee joint is struggling.

And you’ve just missed your PB.

Whether it’s your left leg, left knee or even left foot that’s connected to the knee pain you’re feeling, there are many ways to recover. Exercises for runners exist in multitudes, so whether it’s your left side or your right, you’ll have something too.

It’s vital to be careful and take pre-emptive measures to make sure your knees don’t take damage. But when they do or when they show signs that they might, then it’s time to decrease knee pain with the right exercises now.

So what are the benefits?

Marathon Handbook states, ”Strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joint eases pressure on the knee, which may, in turn, relieve existing knee pain. It can also reduce the risk of injury and increase knee stability which can help with the impact of running.

You can fix muscle imbalances too, so if you have runner’s knee or problems in the gym, these exercises are good to do.

Exercise 1)

For this exercise, you don’t just need the right starting position or to stand with your feet shoulder width apart, you need a pair of dumbells and a step.

Marathon Handbook again suggests the following movements –

  • ”Stand with your feet at hip-width apart, facing the box, holding a dumbbell in each hand. 
  • With the dumbbells at your side, step up onto the box with your right foot while driving your left knee upward, reaching 90 degrees. 
  • Carefully bring your left foot back to the floor and step down with your right foot. 
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time. 
  • Repeat with the other leg.”

Exercise 2)

For this one, you’ll be focussing on glutes, hip flexors strengthening, and pelvis stabilising.

  • Use a resistance band to attach round your knees (just above).
  • Lie on the right side of your body, with your knees on top of one another. Bend at a 45-degree angle.
  • Use your right elbow to prop yourself up. 
  • Now utilise your core strength.
  • Lift the left knee as high as you can, keeping your feet together, right leg to the floor and your hips stable.
  • When that left knee is as high as possible, pause, and lower it back down. Like a scissor action.
  • Now repeat.



These are just two simple exercises of many simple exercises, some of course, are incredibly complex to master, but all-in-all they are more than doable.


Does having your arms straight make a difference with legs?

Yes, some people find this position much easier to get a deep squat.

**See the part 2 of “How to strengthen knees for running”

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