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6 knee-friendly exercises you can do at home

Whether you have a service-connected injury that has affected the long term function of your knees or you simply experience symptoms of natural wear and tear, finding knee-friendly exercises can be difficult. Knee pain affects approximately 25% of adults, according to research from American Family Physician. Many Veterans experienced an injury during service or heightened levels of physical stress that have led to compromised knee functioning later in life.

If you're a Veteran starting a new workout program but you need to be mindful of your joints, we've got you covered. By adapting your exercise to your physical limitations, you can avoid injuries as you improve your fitness levels.

Remember: When starting a new workout program, checking in with a healthcare provider is the safest way to determine which exercises are okay for you to perform. 

After stretching and warming up, here are 6 knee-friendly exercises you can do right at home:

Wall sits

  • Start by standing with your back against the wall. Next, move your feet roughly hip-width apart and put your feet slightly in front of you by about two feet from the wall. You can then slide down the wall, as if you're sitting in an invisible chair. Hold this position for as long as comfortable (ideally around 20 or 30 seconds). With back support from the wall, the strain on your knees is minimized.

  • Muscles targeted: Thighs and glutes

  • Video tutorial

Lateral walk

  • If you're not comfortable with regular squats due to knee pain, a lateral walk can be a good substitute. Begin in a quarter squat position, and take as many steps as you can either right or left. Continue the exercise by walking back in the other direction. For a challenge, you can add a workout band around your ankles. By reducing the depth of the squat, your knees get a bit of a break in this exercise.

  • Muscles targeted: Hip flexors, thighs, glutes

  • Video tutorial


  • Lay on your side with your knees slightly bent. Next, while keeping your feet together, lift the top knee up – in the same way that a clamshell opens (hence the name). Keep it open with your leg raised for a few seconds before slowly bringing your leg down. Repeat this movement 10 to 15 times, or as many times as comfortable. When you're ready to turn up the difficulty, consider adding a workout band just above your knees.

  • Muscles targeted: Thighs, glutes

  • Video tutorial

Calf raises

  • Not only are calf raises beneficial for your muscles, they can also help reduce knee pain. Begin by holding onto the back of a chair or stationary object of similar height. Raise your heels as high as possible, so you're balancing on the front end of your feet. Hold for around 5 to 10 seconds before lowering back down, then repeat the movement around 10 to 15 times.

  • Video tutorial

Step ups

  • The exercise is exactly as it sounds – step ups involve stepping onto a platform (either a secure stool or object or a star step works too). Start with either foot and slowly raise yourself until both feet are on the same level. If it feels too easy, you can hold some weight to up the intensity. Start with at least half a foot of height, and increase it if you desire.

  • Muscles worked: Quads, hamstrings, glutes

  • Video tutorial

Glute bridges

  • Start by lying on your back. With your knees bent and feet shoulder width apart, slowly raise your hips into the air until your body forms a straight line. Avoid arching your back – you'll want a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold the position at the top for a few seconds before lowering your hips again. Repeat 10 to 15 times in a row, for 3 to 4 sets of the exercise.

  • Muscles targeted: Glutes, hamstrings

  • Video tutorial

File a VA disability benefits claim for a service-connected injury 

Great results from a VA disability benefits claim come from filing with strong documentation. From Nexus Letters and DBQs to chart reviews, we're here to ensure you're fully prepared. Opt for a chart review and explore our other services here. Collaborate with one of our professional medical experts at MRPY Professional Services to get just what you need for your claim. It's effective, economical, and a whole lot easier.

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