Heal Knee Pain

Wall Sitting

Wall sitting is one of those great exercises that brings multiples benefits. Wall sitting is primary prescribed as a homework exercise for people who need to strengthen their legs, yet cannot exercise much because of knee pain. This might be a chronic issue, like an arthritis, or it can be from an injury. Wall sitting can help strengthen, heal and align the ankles and hip joints as well.

The Main Benefits of Wall Sitting Include

  • Strengthening the legs, especially the thighs (the quadriceps muscles
  • Aligning your skeleton
  • Relaxing your shoulders.
  • Reliving pressure on the knees

How to Wall Sit

Lean your back against a smooth wall. Position your feet about hip-width. Inch your feet forward 12 or 15 inches. This distance will depend upon how long your legs are and how low you can comfortably sit. The longer the legs, the longer the distance you slide your feet forward. The more knee discomfort, the less distance. You might place a pillow or rubber ball between your knees. This is to stabilize the knees. You do not want your knees to bend inward. Slide your back down the wall.

Wall Sitting

Wall Sitting

Bend Knees Only Slightly to Begin

Fitness authorities usually recommend that you slide so far down that your knees are bent 90 degrees. In other words, the tops of your thighs are horizontal and you are in a full sitting posture, as if you were on an invisible chair. Actually this amount of squat is too much knee bending for many people. The goal is to safely strengthen the legs, not to achieve an athlete’s level of performance.

How Do You Determine How Far Down to Squat?

Come to a position that is comfortable, and does not cause extra pain in your knees. Pain will create tension in your body, and undo the gain of the exercise.

Feel the Pump, Not the Pain

Just be able to feel the pump in the quadriceps, then you can build muscle and strength. The secrets to the results of wall sitting are that it does not reinjure your knees through repetitive strain; and the longer you sit, the more your leg muscles respond and grow. If you can’t bend very far, you may want to try and hold the pose for a longer period to get the quadriceps pump. One person I taught this to called it the ski burn. I recommend 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Over several weeks or months of building up with this exercise, your legs will get noticeably stronger and knee pain should decrease.

You will deepen how low you go in your squat as your legs get stronger. But always avoid knee pain. Never go too deep.

Three Repetitions

After sitting for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, get up and walk around for a minute or two, then perform another rep of the same length of time. Again rest and walk around; then do the third and final Wall sitting rep.

Relax Your Shoulders

As you let your legs take all of the weight of the body from the pelvis up, the shoulders no longer act as if they have to hold you up. The muscles of the neck and  shoulders begin to let go and sink down.

Common Problems

Knees in front of toes. Could lead to pain in the kneecap. Don’t bend the knees so far forward that, if you look down, you can’t see your toes. The lower legs should be vertical, not angled forward.

Don't Bend Knees too far

Don't Bend Knees too far

Feet too wide or not wide enough. Keep the four pairs of joints lined up.

Knees bending inward or outward. Knees bending inward can injure the medial knee, while knees bending outward, cowboy style, can injure the lateral knee. When I was first learning Qigong standing practices I was taught what I now consider to be a too-wide knee posture. My knees ached, on and off, for years until I corrected my training.

Feet not pointing straight ahead. Make sure your toes are not angled outward or turned inward. Keep the toes exactly forward. This will help with a natural, normalizing process of balancing your major pairs of joints. The ankles should be perfectly aligned under the knees, which are aligned under the hip joints.

Don't angle the the toes out

Don't angle the toes out

Putting weight onto the front of the legs. Try to sink your weight into the big muscles of your thighs.

Bending forward at the waist. People sometimes do this to take some of the stress off the leg muscles–the beneficial burn. This will put the stress of your weight on lower back and not help your leg strength, knee health, or alignement. Lean back into the wall to maintain a vertical posture.

Don't lean forward

Don't lean forward

Wall Sitting as a Qigong exercise

Wall sitting strengthens the legs, helps rickety-stickety knees heal, aligns your skeleton, and improves your posture. But there is yet more to wall sitting.

Wall sitting is an internal self-regulation exercise also, a Qigong (chi kung.) Wall sitting can increase vitality. This is done through regulating the breath, opening all of the joints, aligning the bones, feeling the vitality of the body, and calming the heart and mind.

Relax as much as possible, have an upright posture and keep all the joints open. You also want to pay attention to the flow of energy through the body as you sit. Feel and visualize your joints opening up and out. Imagine subtle rivers of energy running up and down your body, connecting your bones. Breathe deeply but as easily as you can. Keep the breath low in the body if you are able.


  1. Yadi Supreme said,

    May 20, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

    Great!!! Wall sitting QiGong! Good conditioning as well as wall squats and Zhuan Zhong

  2. Annie said,

    May 26, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

    I had suffered knee pain for the last 2 years. It has got worst by the day. I have been doing physio exercises including the wall sitting with pillow in between thighs for the last 6 months but I dont see any improvements.

    The pain on my knees are like sharp instrument sitting on my knees. The pain is more aggresive when I take shower. Its like the bone is sitting on a knife and I feel I cant control my knees. I am considering surgery. Your help is needed.


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