Knee Bursitis Stretches & Exercises – Ask Doctor Jo

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Knee Bursitis Stretches & Exercises: These stretches and exerciseshelp with suprapatellar, prepatellar, and infrapatellar knee bursitis. For more physical therapy videos or to Ask Doctor Jo a question, visit

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I often hear patients tell me they have that bursa. Well everyone has bursas throughout their bodies. A bursa is basically a small fluid filled sac that protects our tendons from rubbing on the bones. When the bursa becomes inflamed, it swells up, and can become very painful. This is called bursitis. The most common spots for this are the hips, knees, and shoulders. Today I am going to show you some simple stretches and exercises to help with knee bursitis.

The main muscles around the knee are the calf muscles, the quad muscles, and the hamstring muscles. The first stretch is going to be a calf stretch. You can use a long towel like a beach towel and roll it up to help with the stretch. Make sure you put it just at the ball of your foot. Not too low and not too high. Keep your leg nice and straight (don’t bend the knee), and pull the towel towards you until you feel a stretch. This shouldn’t be painful, just tension. Hold for 30 seconds and do it 3 times.

The next stretch is going to be for the hamstrings. You can get a combination stretch with this for your hamstrings and your calf muscles. Keep the towel at the ball of your foot, and lie down on the ground. Keeping your leg straight without bending your knee, pull your leg straight upward and pull your toes towards you to get the calf as well. Hold for 30 seconds and do this 3 times.

Now you are going to stretch your quad muscle. You can do this a few different ways. If you don’t have a belt or strap close by, you can lie on your side and grab your ankle behind you. Gently pull your foot/ankle towards your bottom. If your thigh is coming forward past your hips, then you are not going to get a good stretch. Try to keep your thigh in alignment with your hips or even slightly behind you. Hold for 30 seconds and do it 3 times. You can use a towel or belt to wrap around your ankle if you are really tight and can’t grab your ankle with your hand.

It’s time for some strengthening exercises now. The first strengthening exercise is a quad set. I like to use a towel or roll as a target, but you don’t have to use anything. Take the towel, roll it up, and place it just under your knee. Push your knee downward into the roll like you are trying to straighten your knee as much as you can. Pulling your toes up towards you helps straighten your knee. Hold this for 3-5 seconds and do 10-15 of them, and do 2-3 sets.

Next is a straight leg raise (SLR). Lie down on your back, and bend one knee up. Straighten out the leg you want to exercise. Pull your toes toward you to help lock out the knee. Just lift your leg to the height of your bended knee. There is no need to kick your leg way up in the air, and it actually takes away from the exercise. Make sure you are slow and controlled with this exercise. Going fast and using momentum will not be effective. If you get to 20-25 and it is easy, then you can add weights if you have them.

Finally, you are going to turn onto your side. This is to strengthen your hip abductors. The leg you want to work is going to be on top, and the bottom leg can be slightly bent for comfort. You want to use the same technique where you keep your leg straight, and you pull your toes toward you to lock out the knee. Try to keep your leg in a straight line with your body keeping your hip up and perpendicular with the ground. Again, use controlled movements, and you don’t have to kick your leg way up in the air. If you get to 20-25 and it is easy, then you can add weights if you have them.

DISCLAIMER: This video and any related comments are not medical advice. Doctor Jo is a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy; however, she is not YOUR Physical Therapist and can’t possibly diagnose you through the Internet. So don’t use this information to avoid going to your own healthcare professional or to replace the advice they have given you. This information is only intended to show you the correct technique for physical therapy exercises and should not be used to self-diagnose or self-treat any medical condition. If you are not properly diagnosed, this information won’t help, and it could make things worse. So seriously, check with your healthcare professional before doing these techniques. If you experience any pain or difficulty while doing these exercises, stop immediately and see your healthcare professional.


AskDoctorJo says:

Buy a printable worksheet with the Knee Bursitis Stretches & Exercises in this video here:
Don't forget to hit the πŸ”΄ SUBSCRIBE πŸ”΄ button above! Find all of my videos at

scruffz says:

I've been struggling with knee bursitis for over a week. My doctor suggested doing some physio to strengthen my leg, but because of Covid I'm a bit reluctant to visit an office.

I literally came across this video this morning, did the routine, and I feel so much relief. I'm going to make sure I start my day off with these exercises as much as possible. Thank you!

David Cutbirth says:

Great stretches and exercises, really helped!

kshitij kumar says:

Is it beneficial for pes anserine bersisits also? Please replay me

Ramesh Angala says:

Thank you for your support πŸ™‚

Love says:

I want my guitar back πŸ˜› nice 🎸 do we get to see you play something

Cindy Hitchcock says:

Thank you fellow Gamecock for posting these helpful stretches and exercises!

Kyle Hicks says:

Hi there,
Are there any modifications you would make to this program for prepatellar bursitis specifically? I had it diagnosed today from an MRI, but it's been stubborn for a couple months now so I'm wondering what I could be doing wrong. Thanks!

Babulal Modi says:

Happy New year dr jo mam

L F says:

Is it ok to start doing these exercises when you get the squishy sound around the knee Cap when you are fully extending knee. I’m not sure if I would be harming it cause it sounds bad, it doesn’t hurt really just tight at the point it makes the squishy sound.

Ian Howard says:

Jo,woke up this morning with a swollen knee for absolutely no reason at all.worked today with Velcro knee brace.plz help any advice much appreciated meanwhile do I just grit my teeth and get on with it ?!! πŸŽ…πŸ˜·πŸ’‰πŸ’‰πŸ’‰

AB J says:

Hope you're all better now, mine has flared up will do these exercises now. Thank you Dr hope your well.

Raisa Moroz says:

Thank you very much for exercises. I tried all of them despite i have carpal tunnel syndrome. It was hard to pull the string but they helped me to get rid of burning pain in my knee. It is good that the last two did not involve the pulling. Thanks again!

Marius KH says:

So I got prepatellar bursitis since 2 weeks ago after working in the garden on my knees. First night was horrible and very painful, but I managed to calm it down with som NSAIDS. Since then I have had very little pain, but the bursa is still pretty swollen and gets warm from time to time. I am VERY careful with the knee, is it normal that it gets warm and swollen even now 2 weeks after? My GP told me anything from weeks to months when it comes to recovery πŸ™ Hopefully theese exercises will help me, but IΒ΄m afraid to flare it up to much by normal walking and exercising.

Kiran Sidhu says:

Does walking helps in knee bursa? because I have knee bursa without pain in my right knee

Racharina B. says:

Where did you buy your pants?

Magnum5160 says:

You are a saint, God bless you!

Kat says:

Hi, Doc! I might be too late but, hope you can still answer me. πŸ˜…

May I know if this works for someone who has infrapatellar (?) bursitis? Thanks a lot!

Jas V says:

Hi Doctor Jo. Thanks for your videos. Could you please advise on what exercises to do for suprapatellar bursitis? Would slow-moving squats help or worsen it? Why does this bursa slightly swell and redden after a long walk? No accompanying fever. Thanks so much! Jas

Ann Godfrey says:

Are there any particular exercises you'd recommend for a baker's cyst? (Also have torn meniscus and osteoarthritis)

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