Sore Knee From Exercise

Your knee is a complex joint of bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments that all must work in time to move your lower body during exercise. If you engage in regular exercise and experience knee soreness, redness or stiffness after your exercise session, you can treat the symptoms and take preventive steps to keep muscle soreness from developing into a more severe injury. While not all muscle soreness indicates a serious condition, knowing when your symptoms indicate the need to see a physician can help you stay healthy.



Knee soreness after exercise can be due to a number of causes. The first is muscle soreness. If you lifted weights that focused on the leg, particularly the thighs, hamstrings and calf muscles, this can result in muscle soreness from overuse. This occurrence tends to be less severe than other potential causes, which include ligament or tendon inflammation in the knee. Runners, skiers and cyclists tend to develop this type of knee soreness, which typically is painful on the side of the knee. Soreness also can be related to joint degeneration, such as from osteoarthritis in which your cartilage begins to wear away over time. This can be aggravated with exercise because the bones rub against each other and cause soreness.


When you experience knee soreness, there are some initial steps you can take to reduce pain and inflammation. These include applying ice to the knee for 15 minutes, then leaving the ice off for 15 minutes and repeating to reduce swelling. Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication also can help. Elevating the knee with pillows and wearing a compressive bandage also can help to stabilize the knee while you are working to reduce muscle soreness.

Physical Therapy Exercises

If you experience a sore knee after exercising, you can engage in strengthening exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee. By having stronger muscles, your knee is more stable and better able to support normal wear and tear. Examples of strengthening exercises include the foot-rotation exercise, which involves lifting the leg in the air at a 45-degree angle and turning the foot to the left and holding this position for 10 seconds, then turning the foot back toward the right and holding the position for 10 seconds. Lower the leg and repeat on the opposite side. Additional exercises to strengthen the knee include lunges, squats and calf raises.


If your soreness does not subside after three days or you cannot bear weight on the knee, seek a physician’s evaluation. Experiencing clicking, locking or buckling of the knee also can be problematic. Your physician will ask you more about the activities you perform and examine your knee.


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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or