7am-7pm M-F 510-547-1630
7am-7pm M-F 510-547-1630
Stiff knee after sitting

What it might mean if you have a stiff knee after sitting

Sitting for long periods of time can cause stiffness and discomfort throughout the body. We’ve all felt the need to “stretch our legs” after a long flight or car trip. While a small amount of stiffness in the knee is normal after sitting, this should not be a regular occurrence and it should not persist for longer than a few minutes. If you regularly have a stiff knee after sitting and it is starting to become debilitating and preventing you from carrying out regular activities, it’s recommended to seek out professional attention. 

Diagnosing knee problems can come with a lot of questions and anxiety, and it can be beneficial to have a better idea of what to expect. By reading this helpful guide to potential causes of knee stiffness, you can be more engaged as you seek relief and a return to normal function. 

Stiff knee after sitting — causes and contributors

Did you know that the knees are actually the largest joints in the body? They need to be in order to absorb the tremendous amount of pressure required from basic movements like walking and standing up, not to mention running and jumping. In addition to supporting and absorbing forces from the ground and our bodies, the knees also need to be extremely flexible to accomplish a wide range of motion. 

This combination of forces can contribute to a large number of injuries and conditions that can cause symptoms like aches, pains and stiffness in the knee. Specific conditions that may be the source of a stiff knee after sitting include: 

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bursitis 
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome
  • Chondromalacia, also known as “runner’s knee”
  • Sprains and tears to tendons and ligaments

In addition to these specific issues, there are a number of larger lifestyle factors that can contribute to a stiff knee after sitting. For example, poor posture can cause uneven weight distribution, while being overweight or obese puts increased stress on the knees. Both of these can speed up the breakdown of protective knee cartilage and increase the likelihood of knee stiffness. It’s also important to eat a healthy diet and stay as active as possible. 

Physical therapy for improved knee mobility

No matter what the cause of your stiff knee after sitting, physical therapy can help. At SOL Physical Therapy, our highly skilled and experienced team of therapists can help you develop a personalized treatment plan to strengthen your knee and increase range of motion. We’re committed to helping you achieve your unique treatment goals and get back to the people and activities you love. 

To learn more about your treatment options, contact us today. We’ll be happy to help you schedule your initial appointment. 

About the author

Sports + Orthopedic Leaders Physical Therapy & Performance Training serves the communities of Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Orinda, San Francisco and beyond. SOLPT’s award winning team of Physical Therapists, Performance Coaches and movement experts has helped thousands reach their rehabilitation and performance goals to move beyond pain. We're committed to helping anyone of any fitness level move effectively and more powerfully for a lifetime. We offer rehabilitation and performance services to all populations, with specialties in Sports Rehabilitation, Active Release Techniques, and Manual Therapy Techniques plus Personal and Small Group Training, Sport Clinics and Wellness Services.