Knee warm ups to combat knee pain

How to warm up your knee with the best mobility exercises to minimise and fight knee pain during a workout.

If you’re suffering from knee pain when you work out, there could be a way to minimise it using a series of warm up exercises that help to loosen and heat up the tissue surrounding the joint. Unless there is a specific injury to your knee that you know of, most knee pain is caused by another structure (like the hip or foot), not doing its fair share of work. Since the knee is an adaptive structure, it takes up the slack for other joints or muscles which aren’t functioning as they should. By alleviating the cause, we can truly correct the symptom.

The foot

If the problem is at the level of the foot, which is over-pronated in 60-70% of the population, mobility and activation exercises may be a solution, if therapeutic intervention is not required. A hyperpronated foot can cause am internally rotated femur and medial tibia. This changes the angle of the knee which can cause pain during exercise.

Achilles and foot warm ups

Stretching out the calves and Achilles can help to warm up and loosed the muscle tissue in the feet. When these muscles are warm and alert, they are more likely to fire, doing their role in maintaining structure and correct function. Put your toes up on a wall, bend your knee towards the wall to stretch the Achilles. Hold for 2 seconds, then release and repeat 8 times. Next, from the same position, keep your knee relatively straight and push your hip into the wall. Repeat 8 times.

Rolling the ankle in circles can also help to activate and warm up the foot and ankle, improving mobility. Even better, doing simple calf raises, small jumps, and jumping barefoot all warm up the muscles of the foot and can help to restore the integrity of the structure.

Hip flexors and IT band

A more common cause of knee pain is a tight hip flexor or a tight iliotibial band (IT band).

Foam roll ID band and quads

Using a foam roller on the side of the thigh can help to loosen a tight IT band. If this is tight, it can pull on the patella, moving it laterally, and causing pain when the knee is bent. Complete 60 seconds per side or 10 slow rolls before and after a workout.

Always roll between the bones, over soft muscle only, not over the hip bone or the knee itself.

Mashing the hip flexors

Since the hip flexors are deep, a foam roller isn’t fit for the job. Use a Lacrosse Ball or something of similar size and firmness. Lying face down, place the ball between the hip bone and the floor, right in the soft tissue that makes up the hip flexors. There is no need to roll if it is very painful! Simply sit on the tight spots and they should release.

Leg swings for hip flexor and glute med

Warm up with some hip mobility by moving through all the ranges of motion of the leg. Keeping the torso and hips completely straight, swing legs forwards and backwards 10 to 15 times. Then swing the leg from left to right. Each direction of motion should cause a very slight stretch in the muscles. Always keep the toes pointed forward for best results!


Finally, weak or tight hamstrings could be the cause of knee pain if they are not balanced with the quadriceps.

Good mornings

This functions as both a stretch and strengthening exercise. Begin with a warm up using a stick, placing it behind the neck and then pushing the hips posteriorly to dip. Keep the knees relatively straight but unlocked to feel a stretch in the hamstrings. Take your time to descend slowly, then squeeze the glutes to return to the start position. 

Happy training