Anyone who has knee pain knows how much it can interfere not only with a fitness routine, but with life in general. It’s always a good idea to see a physical therapist to determine the cause, especially if your knee pain is sharp, keeps getting worse, or comes with a painful pop or swelling—all signs of a potential injury. But sometimes, the cause of your knee pain can be something as simple—and as easy to fix—as tightness in your glutes, hips, and legs.
Knee pain is often caused (or made worse) by weakness or tightness in the muscles and tendons that connect to the knees—specifically, the hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads, Dan Giordano, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., cofounder of Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy, tells SELF. Since they’re all connected and work together, when one is compromised, the others are affected. Think of the muscles from your hips to your toes as the parts of a long assembly line, all working together to help support your joints as you move.
When it comes to preventing and easing knee pain, Giordano says it’s important to reduce tightness in all of these areas. “The majority of the muscles that connect at the knee start at the hip,” Giordano explains. “So you need to keep the hips loose and strong first.” (Here are some butt, hip, and thigh exercises that can help you build strength in this area.)
The following stretches target the hips and those other important muscles that are involved in supporting your knees. No matter your workout routine of choice, these stretches will help keep the muscles limber, loose, and ready to do their job—which will better protect your knees from taking on too much impact and becoming strained.
If you tend to experience knee pain or discomfort, Giordano suggests doing the following stretches every single day, plus after every time you work out. Hold each for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on how tight you are.