I Run Five Times A Week And These Two Physio-Approved Knee Exercises Are Now A Staple Of My Routine

A runner with knee pain sits on a bench holding her knee
(Image credit: Sergey Mironov / Getty Images)

Even if runners never experience knee pain during their running career, they will very much experience the fear of developing knee pain. There is a condition called runner’s knee, after all—even though when we asked an authority on the subject if running is bad for your knees they said, in short, no. Although they did also say that that relies on runners getting appropriate amounts of rest, strengthening their core, warming up and stretching, as well.

As I undertake my first marathon training plan, I am visited by the ghosts of knee injuries past. A faint niggle will appear, reminding me of the dislocated knee I suffered as a teenager. To stop a flare-up from occurring, I have been following a regimented lower-body routine, making sure to include knee-strengthening exercises.

Several weeks ago I came across this TikTok video of leg-strengthening exercises from physiotherapist Tash Gale. There are just two and all they require is a step, whether that’s an aerobic step at the gym or one of the stairs in your home.


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For the past four weeks, I have been adding these two movements to the end of my workouts. I do between 15 and 20 reps on each leg and I usually repeat this around three to four times. Generally I do this at the gym on a trusty Reebok step, but I have also done this on a stair at home as part of my run warm-up.

The moves are simple enough but after including them in my routine for several weeks, I can already feel increased strength and stability in the area around my knee.

For more ways to strengthen the muscles around your knee, try these runner’s knee exercises to improve your strength before injury strikes, or add this low-impact knee-strength workout to your routine. 

Be warned that you should use these exercises only if you’re not experiencing any knee pain. If you are, it’s essential to get an in-person diagnosis. As consultant orthopaedic surgeon Ian McDermott told us in Coach’s guide to runner’s knee prevention and treatment.

“You can’t really talk about treatment until you’ve got a clear and specific diagnosis,” says McDermott. “If you’re getting any significant symptoms in your knees, go and have a proper assessment from either a physio or a knee specialist.

“What’s often required is a period of relative rest combined with specific exercises to strengthen up your glutes, to stretch out your ITB and to build up the inner part of your quads [your VMO], combined with ensuring that your alignment, posture and running style is fully optimised.”

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness writer

Lois Mackenzie is a fitness writer working on news, features, reviews and buying guides for Coach and sister site Fit&Well. Lois is a hill walker and avid runner who has just completed her first marathon. Before joining Coach, Lois worked as a senior SEO reporter at Newsquest Media Group.