Running & Fitness

7 Essential Knee Mobility Exercises for Runners

Noel Prescott
Latest posts by Noel Prescott (see all)

There are few things in life that can derail your running goals, like poor knee health. Knee pain is one of the runners’ most common injuries and can be incredibly frustrating. Fortunately, you can do some great exercises to help keep your knees healthy and strong.  This blog post will share 7 of the best knee exercises for runners. Our knees are health indicators. Keeping them strong and healthy is vital to ensuring we can continue to be active and independent in our everyday lives. 

Running provides many benefits. That’s why it’s important to practice exercises that help strengthen the muscles around your knees. Not only will this keep us limber and able to participate in activities we otherwise wouldn’t enjoy. But it also helps reduce our potential for joint pains when we age. Whether you’re looking to prevent future injuries or ease existing pain, these exercises will help get you on the right track. So let’s get started!

Disclaimer: These exercises are not meant to replace physical therapy or professional help. A personal trainer and marathon runner have provided these exercises but always talk with your doctor before adding a new activity to your routine.

What Is Ideal for Knee Strengthening?-Simple and Ideal Workouts for Runners

The key to longevity in running is healthy joints and muscles.  Runners balance high intensity workouts along with strength and recovery. Focus on including these exercises in your routine for strengthening your knees:

#1 Walking Backward- The Runner’s Favorite Exercise

Walking backward is an often overlooked exercise for knee health and general well-being. Indeed, there are distinct advantages to including this form of exercise in your routine. Walking backward can activate different muscle groups than forward walking, resulting in well-rounded muscles, which improves knee health most straightforwardly. 

Include backward walking on an incline for more intensity and aim for 5X 100 meters. Add more distance as you can. Running backwards (check your surroundings carefully) can add power and increase speed.

#2 Tibialis Raises- Knee Exercise for All Athletes

The Tibialis anterior muscle is an essential part of our bodies, located right below the knee to the inside of the foot. This remarkable area helps us move by aiding dorsiflexion and inverting our feet – something countless people do unconsciously every day!

Strengthening this muscle is key to maintaining your knee. The Tibialis raise is like a reverse calf raise. All you need is a wall. Place your glutes on the wall and lean forward. Have your feet about 6-12 inches away from the wall. Find the distance that works best for you. Raise your toes so that only your heels are making contact with the ground. 

Try 10 reps and 3 sets with a minute rest in between, and work your way up to 25 reps. Hold your raise for 3 seconds, or try single leg raises to add variation or intensity.

#3 Reverse Sled- Bulletproof Knee Exercises

This exercise is a more intense version of walking backwards and can be modified. The reverse sled strengthens knees and feet and can bring cardio benefits to your routine. You can start with a partner holding rope as resistance or loading a sled with a 45-pound or more weight as you gain strength. Start slow and add speed until the pace feels labored. If space allows, do 3 reps of 200 meters. This can be modified to 6 reps of 100 meters.

#4 Stairs- Low-Intensity knee Exercise

Stairs are an excellent exercise for people of all ages and are surprisingly easy on the body! Unlike lifting weights, the intensity is low, and there is less chance of injury. Going up and down stairs will improve your strength and give your knees a solid workout. 

It’s even been suggested that regular use of stairs can help prevent injuries later in life and increase bone mineral density. Best of all, you don’t need any special gear to get started. Just head out to the nearest staircase and climb those steps!

#5 Split Lunges-The Ultimate Runner’s Exercise for Knee Health

Split Squats are ideal for runners, especially when considering knee strength and lower body mobility. In a lunge position, keep your back straight and neutral while lowering. The goal is to go as deep as possible and have your knee over your toes. 

Make sure the opposite knee is relaxed and slightly bent at the knee. When first incorporated, use body weight and try 10 reps per leg. Build up to adding weight on your back and more sets.

#6 Knees to Floor- Efficient Knee Strengthening Exercise

This exercise is intense and relies on consistency and patience. Mastery of this exercise will completely transform your knees and keep you running all season long. Listen to your body and progress to the whole exercise, but use a rail for support when you first try this exercise.

To perform this exercise, stand on your toes and keep a slight bend in your knees and your back straight. Keep your heels off the floor, and with control, bring your knees to the floor as you bring your back to the floor simultaneously. 

When your knees reach the floor, allow your forefoot to rest on the ground with your glutes resting on your heels, allowing you to bring your back to the floor. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then use your glutes and hamstrings to lift your back off the floor. This brings your end position to rest on your knees.

#7 Deep Squat- Lower Body Mobility

Holding a deep squat requires a concentrated effort but provides lower body mobility. The muscles require coordination, and the muscles around your knees will thank you. It is crucial to work together with your lower body muscles, solidify your form and posture, and avoid allowing the knees to cave in. 

The benefits may be seen later. Still, by holding a deep squat for as long as possible, up to a full minute, your lower body muscles gain greater strength and resistance over time. Deep squatting can help you stay fit and active both now and in the future. Start with your heels elevated, and progress to your feet completely flat on the floor and your hamstrings and calves touching.

Knee Exercise Frequency

Taking the time to care for your knees properly can help you power through training plans and reach peak performance during runs. Weekly knee exercises are an essential part of any athlete’s routine. Also, ensure restful recovery is incorporated into your plan – it will be worth every second!