Safe exercises to protect your hips and knees

Keep your hips and knees strong with these joint-protecting exercises from Senior Wellbeing Personal Trainer, Haydn Ward.

Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is one of the most common causes of hip and knee pain, leading to hip replacement or hip resurfacing, especially in older individuals. Common signs include soreness, swelling or aching within the joints during or after activity.

Whether you want to ease these symptoms, or reduce your risk of experiencing them in the future, strengthening your joints with stretches and gentle exercise can help.

As with all treatments, you should check with your healthcare professional before performing these exercises if you have been diagnosed or experience osteoarthritis symptoms.


Kneeling stretch

From kneeling, place one foot out in front, knee over ankle. From there, ‘tuck your tail’ to place a stretch on the kneeling leg and hold for 20 seconds. Sit back to take the stretch off, then repeat on the opposite leg. Repeat two to three times.

Figure 4 glute stretch

Lay on your back with your knees bent as if you were in a 'sit up' start position. With your feet flat on the floor, place one ankle across the other knee to stretch the glute. You can increase the stretch by pulling the supporting leg towards you. Hold for 20 seconds, then release and repeat on other side. Repeat two to three times.

Sitting stretch

In seated position, place the soles of your feet together (making a diamond shape with your legs). Hold on to the toes and aim to work your feet towards your groin as close as you can. Hold for 20 seconds, then release. Repeat two to three times.


Banded walks

Place a resistance band loop around just below or above the knees. Starting with your feet hip/shoulder width apart, take a controlled step to one side. Once the foot places down, control the other foot pulling it back to hip/shoulder width apart. Take five steps in that direction, then immediately five steps back to your start position. Rest for one minute, and then repeat two to three times.

Hip raises

Laying in the 'sit up' position with your knees and feet together, press through your feet and raise your hips off the floor as high as you can. Hold for five seconds, then return to the floor. Repeat five times, then rest for one minute, then repeat the set again. If this is too easy, you can make it harder: Once the hips are raised, maintaining the knee pinch extend one leg out straight and hold for three to five seconds. Return to floor and repeat with other leg.

Leg lift/tuck

Laying flat on the floor (you may wish to make a diamond shape with your hands, and place this is the arch in your back) and keeping knees and feet together, lift the legs off the floor. Aim to slowly and with control lift from the floor to a 45 degree angle, before returning them to the floor, under control. Aim to complete between five to ten reps, rest for one minute, and then repeat. If keeping the legs straight is too strenuous, you can bend the knees and aim to tuck your knees up to your chest, keeping knees and feet together.

Extra tips

Take a class

Depending on the level of your hip or knee pain, classes offered at Nuffield Health Gyms such as aqua aerobics, yoga or pilates can be beneficial. Not only are you supervised, they can also be altered to your fitness and experience level, as well as being a fun group activity.

Prevention is the best form treatment

Always ensure that you warm up prior to every exercise session and limit any unnecessary or excessive impact or weight-bearing exercises. If you are unsure of what stretches or exercises you should be doing, ask to book a review with one of the wellbeing advisors within your gym. If you are experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms of osteoarthritis, book to see a physiotherapist or ask to see a specialist at your nearest hospital.

Last updated Wednesday 10 April 2019