Exercises for Knock Knees

If your legs spread outward from your knees to the point where your ankles are far apart from each other and your knees are touching then you are considered knock kneed. This condition (also known as genu valgum) is common in small children but should outgrow it by the time they reach adulthood. The exercises for knock knees listed below can help correct this deformity by making certain muscles and knee joints stronger.

Why Knock Knees Exercises Can Work

Weakened lower body posterior chain muscles are usually linked to knock knees. By strengthening the posterior chain muscles (especially the glutes such as the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus) it will help the genu valgum straighten out.

Pretty much your gluteus maximus (glutes), calves, lower back, and hamstrings make up your posterior chain muscles.

These muscles in the posterior chain are responsible for stabilizing the hip as well as hip abduction. This is vital because if these muscles are weak the hip will fall out and the knee will knee turn inward, and the ankle won’t properly stabilize itself – which describes knock knees in a nutshell.

With all that being said utilizing exercises that focus on making the hip stronger is necessary for knocked kneed correction. Here’s a great picture below to give you a visual of these muscles in the posterior chain and hip abductors:

knock knees exercises


Exercises for Knock Knees

exercises for knock knees

Keep in mind that knock knees exercises are usually only helpful for those with mild genu valgum. If you are dealing with a severe case of knock knees then performing these exercises can help slightly, but won’t fully correct the bone deformity.

When doing these corrective exercises (especially for knock knees in adults) the key is to stay consistent in order for your knees to realign correctly and stabilize. Also, the cause of your knocked knee will play a huge role in how effective these exercises are at knock knee correction.

Side Lying Leg Raises

exercises to correct knock knees

  1. Begin this exercise by laying down on your left or right side.
  2. Make sure your legs are fully extended (one leg should be on top of the other) and your hand closest to the ground should be extended straight. Your opposite arm should be bent while your hand is placed on your hip.
  3. Now start one rep by elevating your leg that’s on top slowly as high as you possibly can manage.
  4. Now return your leg back down slowly and rest it on top of the other leg like you had it in the starting position.
  5. Do at least 10 reps of these to make one set.

These side lying leg raises are simple but for very effective for making the muscles like the gluteus medius stronger and helping to stabilize your hip, which is exactly what you want in order to fix knock knees.


  1. Begin this exercise to correct knock knees by laying down on your side with your legs on top of one another and bend your knees to a 45 degree angle.
  2. Keep your head on your the arm closest to the floor and place your arm that’s furthest from the floor (on the top) to keep your body steady.
  3. Now raise your upper knee as high as possible while keeping your ankles together. Your hips and pelvis should remain as steady as possible while doing this motion. Also, make sure your lower leg doesn’t get lifted off the ground.
  4. When your upper knee has reached as high as possible pause and keep it there for a second before returning it to the starting position.
  5. Perform 10 reps of this exercise to complete 1 set.

The clamshell is a great knock knee treatment because it strengthens your hip and really targets your glutes (gluteus maxium, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius) and other important muscles in your posterior. Definitely include this effective hip and leg strengthening exercise in your routine.

Lateral Walks with Band on Ankles

exercises for knock knees in adults

Begin this exercise by placing a mini band around your ankles and stand up straight.

  1. Keep your knees bent a little while performing this exercise and try not to lock them out.
  2. Keep your feet apart and begin stepping to the right and then follow with your left foot. Make sure you feel some resistance from the band around your ankles as you take each step.
  3. Repeat the steps towards the right and then repeat the steps towards the left.

The lateral band walk is another one of the great exercises for knock knees because it builds more strength and stability in the hip abductors, glutes, and knees. Another variation of this exercise is called the “Penguin Walk”, which is also effective for correcting knock knees naturally. Check out the video below:

Hip Extensions

exercises for knock knees in children

  1. Begin this knock knees exercise by placing an ankle weight around your ankles. Make sure you start with a light weight and complete one rep before choosing heavier weights.
  2. Now get on your hands on knees and then bend one of your knees with the ankle weight to a 90 degree angle.
  3. You’ll then slowly lift up the leg that’s bent to a 90 degree angle along a straight line all the way up towards the ceiling.
  4. Repeat this motion for 10 reps and then switch to your other leg making sure it has ankle weights on it too.

This is one of the most effective exercises for knock knees because it works your glutes and helps stabilize your hips. If you don’t feel comfortable (or if you just don’t have any) using ankle weights then don’t use them and perform this exercise without them.

Eventually as you build up strength in your posterior muscles and hips try wearing the weights to help you build even more strength. Check out the video below:

Another way to perform this exercise is to stand up and extend your hips.

  1. Begin by standing behind a chair or a table.
  2. Hold onto the table or chair so you can have some support.
  3. Tighten up your core and extend your legs outward toward your back.
  4. Do at least 10 reps and then repeat this motion with your other leg.

Take a look at the video below that demonstrates how to properly perform a standing hip extension exercise:

Hip extensions whether standing or laying down are a great way to strengthen a weak hip and glutes, which as we explained earlier is usually associated with knocked knees.

Russian Hamstrings

how to fix my knock knees

  1. To start this exercise get on your knees and align your shoulders, torso, and hips so that your body forms a line that’s straight.
  2. If you have a weight bench (a weight bench would be ideal) place both feet under it. If you don’t have a weight bench no problem just have someone get behind you and hold your ankles down.
  3. Now bring your hands up to shoulder level by bending your arms at your elbows. You’ll know you’re doing this right when your upper arms at the sides of your body and your elbows are pointing downward.
  4. Make sure your back is as straight as possible and then tighten up your hamstrings and glutes while slowly lowering your body toward the ground.
  5. Make sure you don’t bend at your hips and avoid dropping your body to the ground. Try to fight gravity and keep your body in as straight a line as you can manage.
  6. Finally, when you can’t lower your body any more release the tension in your glutes and hamstrings and drop down to the ground making sure you use your hands to break your fall.
  7. Repeat.

This is one of the best exercises for knock knees because it will help build strength in your hamstrings and glutes. Additional it will help stabilize your hips which will help straighten out your knees. Check out the video below:

A few of exercises for knock knees listed above can be performed with a resistance band or weights to help work and strengthen your glutes, hips, and other muscles in your posterior chain even more. However, make sure you master the basic technique first before you begin adding weights, resistant bands, and stability balls with these exercises. By strengthening these specific muscles by using simple exercises it’s possible to correct the problem without knock knee surgery.

Knock Knee Surgery and Bow Leg Surgery

Believe it or not knock knees are a common problem that many people experience in their lifetime. I know me personally used to be so self conscious about my knocked knee problem that it would make me not want to be around other people. Knock knee surgery is an option but it should be your last option when nothing else will work.

A lot of people don’t even realize they have a problem until they reach an older age and notice that everyone else around them have straight aligned legs. This deformity causes your knees to touch and your ankles to remain separated.

Your legs will turn inward and it can cause pain and discomfort along with embarrassment. This condition is normal among children under the age of 2. However, genu valgum as it is called in the medical field can affect some people all the way up into their adult years.

Knock kneed adults have options available to treat this problem such as exercises, braces, and specially designed inverted shoes. However, most adults with this problem turn to surgical procedures to correct knock knees.

Knock knee surgery is only an option if other alternatives don’t work. Usually other knock knee correction methods will help if the deformity is a mild case. However, if too severe alternative knock knee treatments will only help improve the appearance of this lower leg deformity not correct them.

Knock Knee Surgery

knock knee surgery

When other treatments for knock knees or bow legs aren’t effective surgical procedures are recommended (usually for severe cases). The name of the surgery used the most to treat knock knees and bow legs is osteotomy, which realigns the bones in your leg to the proper angle of the knee by adding or removing a small section of bone.

To really get a good idea of what this form of surgery is about it’s a good idea to learn more about the anatomy of the knee.

The goal of osteotomy is to help prevent/reduce the pain of osteoarthritis, slow down the wear and tear of the knee due to them knocking together, and preventing a knee replacement surgery which is much more serious.

Femor  Osteotomy (reshaping of the thigh bone)

The surgical procedure for knocked knees most often carried out is called femoral osteotomy, while high tibial osteotomy is more commonly performed for bow legged patients.

Femoral osteotomy will involve the surgeon operating around the lateral part of the femur and the leg to help straighten/realign the knees. This surgical procedure helps knock kneed patients because it relieves the wear on the lateral (exterior part) of the knees that this leg deformity often causes.

High Tibial Osteotomy or HTO (reshaping of the shin bone)

In HTO the surgeon will focus on the medial (inside) area of your knee to shift weight towards the lateral (outer) position of the knee, which will cause your leg to shift inward a little.

It’s pretty much like realigning a knee that’s bow legged to a more knock knee position. This form of osteotomy is commonly performed on bow legged patients because of the amount of wear they develop on the medial (interior part) of their knees.

A high tibial osteotomy involves removing a piece of bone from the exterior part of your knee so that your leg will bend inward. To give you a better description it’s kind of like realigning a bowlegged knee to a position that’s knock kneed. After the surgery is complete your weight will be moved to the lateral or exterior part of your knee.

During this surgery the doctor will put you under local anesthesia and then they’ll determine the right size of the bone they’ll end up taking out. In order to determine this they’ll use an X-ray or CT scan before beginning the operation.

Once everything is ready an incision will be made along the exterior of your knee right beneath the kneecap. At the top of your tibia plateau guide wires will be drilled in and then the tibea plateaue will be lowered on the exterior. The top of your tibia plateau will then be attached using screws or staples by the surgeon.

On the day of the surgery you will most likely be told not to consume any food or beverage so that you won’t vomit while you’re under the anesthesia.

Difference Between Knee Replacement and Osteotomy

The main difference between these forms of surgery is that an osteotomy will maintain/preserve the natural tissue around the knee and all the bones and ligaments such as the femur, tibia, and patella.

If you still want to be able to do certain activities like running, climbing, squatting, or be able to play the sports you love then an osteotomy is best. Meanwhile, a full knee replacement will replace all your bones and ligaments with prosthetic that take a longer time to recover from and makes it harder to return to a full range of motion in the knee.

Moreover, when a full knee replacement is performed it will high impact sports or activities are usually not possible with a full knee replacement since the natural tissues and ligaments in the knee will be removed and replaced with a prosthetic knee joint, while a full knee replacement removes everything.

Moreover, the typical prosthetic components used during a knee replacement will last around fifteen years before it needs to be replaced, which means another surgery.

Before Surgery

Prior to the surgery doctors may ask you to keep your legs cleaned to reduce the risk of infection.

If the osteotomy requires for a piece of bone to be inserted rather than taken out then either a synthetic bone will be used or a bone from the body of another person. Sometimes the bone needed to be inserted to complete the surgery will be taken from the pelvic bone of the patient.

Before the surgery the surgeon will most likely recommend that you quit taking certain medications that could counteract with the procedure.

You’ll also most likely be told to stop smoking a couple weeks before the beginning of the surgery. The reason smoking is not allowed is because the nicotine can help cause complications during or after the surgery.

Determining What Kind of Osteotomy Should be Performed

To determine what form of osteotomy needs to be performed whether for knock knees or bow legs the surgeon will take measurements of the alignment of your legs. These measurements will help the surgeon determine wither the femur (thigh bone) or the tibia (shin bone) needs to be operated on.

How severe your bowed legs or knocked knees are will determine the size of the piece of bone that needs to be removed or added should be to achieve the proper correction/realignment in the legs.


Recovering from an osteotomy can be tough, which is why doctors will keep you in the hospital and monitor you for a few days after the surgery is over.

The typical time frame for a person to begin walking again after this surgery without any help is around 3 months. Some patients don’t recover post surgery until 6 to 12 months later.

It’s best to keep the incision on your knee as dry as possible to help the recovery. After a month your doctor will ask you to come back in so an X-ray examination can be performed to see how well your bones are healing.

During the first week or two after the osteotomy you will most likely feel some discomfort, swelling, and/or pain. This is normal but if you feel that your pain or discomfort is too much for you to handle you should contact your doctor immediately.

Preventing Infections

While in the hospital nurses and doctors will advise you on effective ways to keep the wound clean and free of infection so that you can heal properly. To help decrease the chance of your knee swelling post surgery doctors will advise you to keep your legs elevated as much as possible.

Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis

Ice packs and certain medical devices will be recommended to prevent severe swelling and other complications such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).


Ice is an important part of recovery as putting some on your knees for a half hour a couple to a few times daily can help with reducing the pain you’re experiencing. Try to keep your knee elevated as much as you can to help cope with pain you’re feeling, especially while you’re sleeping.


A machine called continuous passive motion is sometimes used while in the hospital to help with recovery.

This machine is used while you’re laying on your back to help your legs stay in the air and elevated, and to also move your leg from a straight to a bent position repeatedly.

This CPM machine helps with initializing range of motion in your knee and legs after the surgical procedure.

Pain Medications

Usually patients will be given pain medication to help with recovering from this surgical procedure. Doctors will tend to your knee by bandaging it and putting it on ice if necessary.

Encouraging Circulation

Doctors may also recommend that you move your feet around every now and then to help encourage circulation, which is a good thing.

Preventing Stiffness in the Knee

To help your joints in your knees from getting too stiff after the procedure you may be advised to do some simple motion exercises.


If you experience any feelings of fever don’t be scared because this is common after the procedure. Nurses will give you medications like acetaminophen to help you get through it.

Crutches, Braces, and Casts

A knee brace is sometimes used during the recovery of the surgery to help push your knee in the right position. In other cases the doctor may feel that putting your knee in a cast for a month or two is the best way to help it recover and realign the way it should.

Once the knee brace, cast, or crutches are no longer required (usually 2 to 6 weeks) you’ll then be advised to begin exercises to help regain your normal motion in your legs.


Some of these exercises include stretching, aerobic, and weight training exercises. All of these exercises main goal is to help your knee recover it’s strength and realign the way it should.

The goal of these exercises is to build up a little range of motion until you regain full movement in your legs, which can take up to 4 weeks.

Once you have progressed properly with the simple motion, stretching, and strength training exercises you’ll then start doing more intense exercises such as walking or running.

Working out the legs on an exercise bike or other exercises that will help make the legs stronger will be recommended.


Like with any surgical procedure there are some risks associated. Some of these risks include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Problems with breathing
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infections
  • Bones don’t heal properly
  • Blood clot inside the leg
  • Blood vessel or nerve gets damaged
  • Inflammation
  • Bones don’t align properly

These risks are some of the main reasons why people with this leg deformity want to know how to correct knock knees without surgery. However, surgical procedures may be your only option if your knock knees or bow legs are too severe.

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