8 Great Lower-Body Exercises for People With Knee Pain 

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8 Great Lower-Body Exercises for People With Knee Pain 

Even if you have rheumatoid arthritis, locating your pain may not be as easy as it seems. Luckily these low-resistance exercises can help reduce that pain.

Banded Lateral Walk

Stepping laterally with a band looped around your legs targets the butt and hip muscles, including the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and hip external rotators, Whitley says. “While both glutes will be working throughout this exercise, you’ll feel more muscle activity in trailing leg as it must stabilize the moving leg,” he adds.

  • Start in a quarter-squat position (a shallower squat) with a looped resistance band just above your knees.
  • Take a giant step to your right with your right foot, then follow with your left. Take 10 steps in this direction (or as many as your space allows).
  • Step back in the reverse direction, starting each step with your left and then your right, until you return to starting position.

Kettlebell Swing

“Knee pain can be tricky, but for many it may stem from a weakness or imbalances in other areas of the body, particularly the glutes and hamstrings,” Jacque Crockford, M.S., C.S.C.S., exercise physiology content manager at American Council on Exercise, reiterates. The kettlebell swing is a great exercise to target the glutes and hamstrings.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the top of the kettlebell handle with both hands.
  • Bend your knees into a half squat, then hinge forward at the hips to drop the kettlebell between your legs.
  • Stand back up and as you do, thrust from your hips and use the momentum to swing the weight to chest height.

Dumbbell Deadlift

Another great butt and hamstring move? The almighty deadlift. By effectively activating the glutes and hamstrings, this move will help to “provide stability to the knee joint through promoting strength in the hips,” says Crockford.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand in front of your legs.
  • Hinge at your hips, bend your knees slightly, and push your butt back to perform a deadlift, slowly lowering the weights down toward the ground.
  • Pause at bottom, then slowly stand back up to return to starting position. Squeeze your glutes at the top.

Hip Openers

This is a great warm-up stretch to get your hips and butt primed for movement. It also lets you stretch your back a bit without rotating too far.

  • Begin in a high plank with your hands flat on the floor, wrists stacked under your shoulders, and your core, quads, and butt engaged.
  • Step your left leg to the outside of your left hand so that you’re in a runner’s lunge.
  • Lift your left arm and rotate and reach up toward to the ceiling, following with your eyes.
  • Think about rotating through your pelvis, upper back, shoulder, and neck.
  • Switch legs and repeat.


Single-leg Deadlift

This deadlift variation adds an extra stability challenge—which means everything from your core to your hips to your hamstrings needs to work a tiny bit harder to maintain balance as you move.

  • Stand with your feet together, holding a weight in each hand in front of your legs.
  • Shift your weight to your left leg and while keeping a slight bend in your left knee, raise your right leg straight behind your body, hinging at the hips to bring your torso parallel to the floor, and lower the weight toward the floor.
  • Keep your back flat. At the bottom of the movement, your torso and right leg should be almost parallel to the floor, with the weight a few inches off the ground. (If your hamstrings are tight, you may not be able to lift your leg as high.)
  • Keeping your core tight, push through your left heel to stand up straight and pull the weight back up to starting position. Bring your right leg back down to meet your left, but just let your toes tap the floor lightly—don’t put any weight on your right foot.
  • Pause at the top and squeeze your butt.
Read on: 8 Great Lower-Body Exercises for People With Knee Pain

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