Are You Experiencing Pain in the Front of Your Knee?

Since gyms have been closed, more individuals have been choosing running as a safe and effective form of exercise. Recently, we have been treating more patients with anterior knee pain due to this change in their exercise routine. Many factors contribute to this issue. Patients that are experiencing this discomfort and pain in the front of their knee are likely to experience limited mobility and decreased performance.

Some common diagnoses for anterior knee pain include:

  1. Patellofemoral disorder
  2. Patellar Tendinitis
  3. IT Band Syndrome
  4. Generalized “anterior knee pain”

All of these diagnoses can cause irritation around the knee, typically below the knee cap. This could be due to the kneecap and tissues around it not gliding properly in the groove at the end of the thighbone. This puts extra pressure on certain parts of the knee and may pinch or stretch these structures. Knee pain is most common with running, stair climbing, jumping, and/or squatting. Some other symptoms may include popping, catching or grinding when walking or moving the knee.

There are many reasons why you may have knee pain including, but not limited to the following external factors:

  • Improperly fitted running shoes
  • Excessive training or too rapid progression
  • Hard surfaces can impact your joints, making them subjected to more wear and tear
  • Misalignment of the knee
  • Poor flexibility of the muscles surrounding the knee joint
  • Weakness in hip musculature

Below are some basic exercises to start with to help knee pain and patellofemoral syndrome:

  1. Side lying clamshells

-Position: Begin by lying on your side with the side you intend to exercise upwards. 

-Movement: With your knees bent and feet together, slowly pull your knees apart, keeping your feet together.  Hold as directed.  Slowly bring your knees back together.  Repeat as directed.

-Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

2. Glute Bridging

-Position: Begin by lying with knees bent and both feet placed on the floor with arms at your sides.

-Movement: Raise your hips off the surface by squeezing your gluteal muscles.  Attempt to bring the hips up to where they are inline between the knees and shoulders.  Repeat as directed.

-Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

3. Eccentric stand-to-sit

-Position: Begin in standing position.

-Movement: As you are standing bring both arms straight out in front of you and parallel with floor. Keep arms outstretched while slowly returning to seated position. Once seated lower arms. Repeat as directed.

-Lower down slowly for a count of 6 and repeat for 2 sets of 10 repetitions.

4. Wall sits

-Position: Standing against the wall with feet shoulder width apart.

-Movement: Begin exercise by tightening abdominals and sliding down the wall until your hips and knees are at 90 degrees. Hold that position.

-Hold position for 15 seconds to start for 3 repetitions.

5. TFL/ITB stretching

-Position: Stand next to a wall with the involved leg toward the wall.

-Movement: Cross the involved leg behind the outside leg and push your hips towards the wall until you feel a stretch on the side of your thigh and buttocks. Keep the foot of the stretched leg pointed forward or, if possible, slightly toward the wall.

-Hold the stretch for 30 seconds for 3 repetitions

6. ITB Foam Roll Mobilization

-Position: Begin by lying on the floor on the side you wish to exercise. Place a foam roll under your hip and support your upper body by placing both hands on the floor.

-Movement: Keep the lower leg straight and cross the upper leg in front of the lower leg, bending the knee and placing the foot flat on the floor.  Use your upper leg and arms to push and pull your body forward and backwards, rolling the hip and leg over the foam roll. Repeat as directed.

7. Quadriceps stretching

-Position: While standing in front of a stable surface.

-Movement: Bring your heel on the side you wish to stretch towards your buttocks and hold it there with your hand.  Hold as directed.

-Hold the stretch for 30 seconds for 3 repetitions.

8. Hamstrings stretching

-Position: Begin in sitting at edge of the chair.

-Movement: Straighten the leg that you wish to stretch in front of you so that knee is straight, and the heel is resting on the ground.  Slowly lean forward, placing your hands on your hips.  You should feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold as directed.

-Hold the stretch for 30 seconds for 3 repetitions.

If your anterior knee pain persists, please feel free to contact our office and schedule an evaluation with one of our skilled physical therapists.


  2. John, MS. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: A review and guidelines for Treatment. Am Fam Physician. 1999 Nov 1;60(7):2012-2018.

Innovative Physical Therapy, “Solutions in Motion”