Three exercises you can try to kick-start your knee pain recovery

Knee pain is common in athletes and sedentary individuals alike. It’s ridiculously disruptive to daily life because every step can be painful. This often lead knee pain patients to avoid activities that involve their knee. Over time, this avoidance behaviour lead to poorer knee function, strength, and can cause even more problems in the future.

For those who are more athletic, you may find your knee pain coming back each time you return to sports. Some of you may even keep training despite your knee symptoms, and in doing so worsen your condition.

Today, we’ll go through a couple of exercises that are suitable for most knee pain sufferers. While some aches and soreness after exercising that resolves itself is acceptable, these exercises should not aggravate your current symptoms. If they do, please do stop immediately and seek professional help.


Resistance band clam shells

This exercise is commonly prescribed for various knee conditions. It’s a great exercise because there is little to no involvement of the knee joint itself. For this to happen, make sure the resistance band is placed above the knee joint.

Runners with knee symptoms on the side of their knee may be concerned about ITB (iliotibial band). A lot of times runners will choose to stretch it out. However, stretching is often not effective for such conditions. The clam shells is a great for you because the movement involves tensor fascia latae muscle, which inserts to your ITB. This means you can train your ITB to increase its load capacity with this exercise. In doing so, it could facilitate your return to running.

  • To start, lie on your back with your knees bent to 90 degrees and feet on the ground.
  • Loop a resistance band around your knees, and make sure it is placed above your knee joint.
  • When you are ready, slowly push your knees into the resistance band until you reach your end range of motion. If you are unable to reach the end range of motion, you may want to reduce the tension of the band.
  • Hold the end position for a few seconds, and slowly return to the start position.

To isolate the exercise to one side, you may choose to lie on your side instead of your back. Once you have completed the desired repetitions, change to the other side.

We do appreciate that some of these exercises can be boring. It’s important to be clear at this stage that the objective and intent of these exercises is to help you improve your condition, so you can return to the activities and/or sports you enjoy!


Good mornings

Not the go-to exercise for most people with knee issues because putting weight into your knees while it is hurting can seem scary. However, most of you will be able to perform this exercise with no issues. It’s true that some of your knees may not be able to tolerate weight. In that case, you will want to avoid this exercise and seek professional help for what to do next.

This exercise is great because it can be easily done at home without any equipment. As you improve and would like to increase the weight, you can easily use household items for that.

Good mornings are great exercise for your posterior chain. It does emphasise your low back a fair bit so don’t be too worried if you start to experience some back aches and soreness from it. You should also be able to feel your hamstrings working.

The key thing to note for knee pain patients is to perform this exercise with as little knee movement as possible. This will significantly reduce the chance of the exercising aggravating your knee pain.

  • To start, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a soft bend in your knees. You would also want to push your hips back slightly to achieve a hip hinge position.
  • Once you are ready, slowly bring your torso and chest to the ground by flexing at your lumbar spine. As much as possible, reduce the movement at the knee joint so you don’t unnecessarily stress it out. Keep flexing until your torso are about parallel to the ground, or to the point where you start to feel a stretch sensation in your hamstring.
  • Slowly extend your back again in the upright start position.

We can’t emphasise that it’s important to be cautious when approaching this exercise. If you are not confident of doing this exercise, start with practising some of the hip hinge movement drills first. Be sure to always start with bodyweight, and only start to use weights after your body as adapted to the exercise.

When in doubt, seek professional help. Our chiropractor will be able to guide you through your recovery journey, and ascertain which are the best exercises for you to find true freedom from pain.


Chair sit-to-stand

If you have knee pain with climbing stairs, walking, or squatting, this exercise will be the ultimate movement that can help you return to those activities. For this exercise, it’s super important to work with your body without overpushing it. The determinant factor to if you can perform this exercise will be the chair height. The higher your chair is, the more likely you will be able to make this exercise work for you.

Of all the three exercises we discussed, this exercise directly loads and moves the knee joint. It’s not uncommon for this movement to be painful. In such cases, start with a higher chair. A bar stool is usually a safe height for you to start with.

If this movement hurts your knee, even when you are working from a bar stool height, do seek professional help for the best next steps.

  • To start, stand on a chair with your calves touching the edge of the chair (if your chair allows for it).
  • When you are ready, slowly try to raise yourself from your seat without your knees tracking forwards. As much as possible, try to maintain contact back between the edge of your chair and your calves.
  • Once you are at the top position, you can relax and repeat the movement again from the bottom.

This exercise can be considered a functional movement as there are many parallels between the chair sit-to-stand and daily life movements. If you find that you are only able to perform the exercise from a fairly high stool, you can increase the exertion by performing more repetitions. It’s important to not reduce the height too early as that may delay your recovery.

Chiropractic treatment for knee pain

A lot of people are surprise to learn that chiropractors do work with knee pain. While spinal conditions such as back pain and neck pain are more commonly associated with chiropractic, chiropractors in Singapore do work with a range of physical conditions including knee issues.

At Square One Recovery, our chiropractor Jesse Cai has worked with high performance athletes for years before moving back to Singapore. His experience include working with ACL tears, runner knees, knee osteoarthritis, and many other knee conditions.

We use exercise, education, and lifestyle change in our recovery programme to help our clients find freedom from pain. With our approach, you can attain your recovery goals without needing regular treatments. This is aligned to best evidence practice, and also congruent to what chiropractic is about since its founding days.

In that sense, we are not reinventing the wheel.

chiropractic clinic singapore

The truth is that exercise has been part of chiropractic since its infancy. We see that early chiropractors did utilise exercise as part of their treatment approach. So, what we are doing at our practice is 100% part of chiropractic.

Yes, we do realise that few chiropractors in Singapore do what we do. It makes sense. Afterall, spinal adjustments only take five minutes to perform and the relief lasts for a few days or a couple of weeks, max. This means it’s good for business!

Then turnover is high (i.e., can see many patients in a day) and the recurring revenue is high (i.e., patients have to keep coming back). No wonder chiropractors choose to focus on cracking spines!

We are not saying that you don’t feel better from having your spine adjusted. We are saying the results don’t last. We are also saying that there are better pain solutions. Research backs this up.

With the growth of science and research, we starting to learn more about body, and what actually helps with recovery. Both chiropractors and pain patients alike would have to keep up in order to achieve good outcomes. Yes, all of us have our own biases, beliefs, values. We are not denying that.

What we are saying is that, at some point, all of these have to go if we want good outcomes. We have to keep up with times. Especially if you are not getting better.

Have a think about it. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. What you need for extraordinary results is a radical change. This can start with the type of treatments you choose.

You can be old, have knee arthritis in both knees, with a torn meniscus and still get results from exercise!

old woman kettlebell, knee pain singapore, knee arthritisMeet Pauline. At 76 years old with arthritic knees, not only does she lift weights. She competes in national powerlifting competitions!

Like yourself, Pauline doesn’t have great knees. She has arthritis in both knees and also a torn meniscus. Thankfully, her physiotherapist recommended her that she did strength training for her rehab. Things couldn’t have gone better.

Pauline had since gone to break three state powerlifting records.

You think exercise is going to hurt you. Maybe, if done poorly.

However, exercise when done correctly can be the single thing that protects you from pain and injury!

We are super happy to see more and more patients sharing their recovery success in mainstream media.

There’s no need to be afraid of lifting weights. In fact, powerlifting can be the pain solution you are looking for.

Drop us a message to find out how our chiropractor and powerlifting coach can work together to help you find true freedom from pain.

I have tried your exercises and I am not better!

Do not be too discouraged if you don’t find the exercises helpful. This is not because exercises are useless or that you will never get better. What you need is probably extra attention for your case, and a recovery programme that is truly tailored to you.

Remember, exercise alone is not enough to give you a full recovery. Pain relief alone also doesn’t indicate complete recovery. A combination of exercise, education, and lifestyle change is what it takes for you to find true freedom from pain.

To find out more about how we can help you help yourself in your recovery, reach out to us via the contact form below. Come discover the difference the right care can make.


Based in Singapore, Square One Active Recovery offers treatments with a very big difference. With our evidence-based exercise approach, you can achieve your recovery goals in just 12 weeks. Not getting results from your chiropractor, TCM doctor or physiotherapist? Talk to us and find out how we can take your recovery to the next level.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.

    author avatar
    Dr. Jesse Cai

    Jesse, a chiropractor with a unique approach, believes in empowering his clients to lead functional and fulfilling lives. Jesse worked with high-level Australian athletes, including roles such as Head Sport Trainer for Forrestfield Football Club, board member of Sports Chiropractic Australia, and member of Sports Medicine Australia.

    author avatar
    Dr. Jesse Cai Chiropractor
    Jesse, a chiropractor with a unique approach, believes in empowering his clients to lead functional and fulfilling lives. Jesse worked with high-level Australian athletes, including roles such as Head Sport Trainer for Forrestfield Football Club, board member of Sports Chiropractic Australia, and member of Sports Medicine Australia.
    author avatar
    Dr. Jesse Cai Chiropractor
    Jesse, a chiropractor with a unique approach, believes in empowering his clients to lead functional and fulfilling lives. Jesse worked with high-level Australian athletes, including roles such as Head Sport Trainer for Forrestfield Football Club, board member of Sports Chiropractic Australia, and member of Sports Medicine Australia.