How to Do a Knee-to-Chest Stretch: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a knee-to-chest stretch to improve hip and back mobility and flexibility, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

Published Date: Jul 17, 2023

Ever feel like your hips are tight and achy? Have a sore back after you stand up from a seated position? Aren’t sure how to stretch and strengthen your hips and back in your usual movement and exercise routine? Finding a few moments for gentle and targeted stretches can go a long way when it comes to how your mind and body feel. Enter the knee-to-chest stretch. This simple-yet-effective exercise helps improve hip and back mobility, reducing pain and stiffness. And you can do it just about anywhere — at your desk, on your couch, or sitting on an airplane. 

Here, we’ll discuss the benefits of incorporating the knee-to-chest stretch for your hip and back mobility and flexibility and how you can modify the stretch to meet your needs. 

Our Hinge Health Experts

Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

What Is the Knee-to-Chest Stretch?

The seated knee-to-chest stretch is a simple stretching exercise that helps loosen tight muscles in the hip and low back region. It involves bringing one knee toward your chest while in a seated position.

What Muscles Does the Knee-to-Chest Stretch Work? 

This gentle movement targets the hip flexors, glutes, lower back, and hamstring muscles. 

  • Hip flexors: These are a group of muscles located at the front of the hip joint, including the iliopsoas and the rectus femoris muscles. Hip flexors help flex the hip joint and help with activities like walking, sitting and standing from a chair, biking, and kicking a ball. 

  • Glutes: Located in the buttocks, the glutes are important for walking and running, climbing stairs, squatting, and maintaining balance. Strong glutes also help to stave off pain in the knees, hips, and lower back

  • Lower back muscles: Stretching and strengthening these muscles helps to reduce lower back pain. 

  • Hamstrings: The hamstrings are a group of muscles located at the back of the thigh. They are important for activities that involve walking, running, jumping, climbing, squatting, bending, and lifting. 

The knee-to-chest stretch also involves other secondary muscles, such as the adductors (inner thigh muscles) and abdominal muscles. 

Benefits of the Knee-to-Chest Stretch

The knee-to-chest stretch is a great way to relieve muscle tension in your low back and hips, often related to activities like going up and down the stairs or sitting for long periods of time. Other benefits include: 

  • Improving flexibility and range of motion in the hips, hamstrings, and glutes. This can aid in day-to-day activities, such as sitting up straight, going up and down stairs, walking, running, picking something up from the ground, and household tasks like vacuuming, mopping, gardening, and lifting objects. 

  • Promoting relaxation and stress relief by encouraging deep breathing and providing a short break from everyday stressors.

  • Supporting core strength by stretching the muscles around the lower back and pelvis and engaging your core muscles. 

Knee-to-Chest Stretch: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.





To do a knee-to-chest stretch: 

  • Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and place your hands under one of your thighs. 

  • Using your hands, pull your knee up toward your chest. 

  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds, keeping your head and chest upright as you do so. 

  • Slowly lower your thigh back to your starting position. 

You should feel a slight stretch in the back of your hip, back, and butt muscles with each repetition. 

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify the knee-to-chest stretch to meet your needs. 

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Knee-to-Chest Modifications

Knee-to-Chest Modifications

Knee-to-Chest Modifications

Knee-to-Chest Modifications

To make the knee-to-chest stretch easier:  

  • Limit how far you lift your knee toward your chest. 

To make the knee-to-chest stretch harder: 

  • Place your hands around the front of your knee and lift your knee as far toward your chest as you can to deepen the stretch. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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  • Single Knee to Chest Stretch. (n.d.). Physiopedia. Retrieved from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Single_Knee_to_Chest_Stretch

  • Hip Flexors. (n.d.). Physiopedia. Retrieved from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Hip_Flexors?utm_source=physiopedia&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=ongoing_internal

  • Gluteal Muscles. (n.d.). Physiopedia. Retrieved fromhttps://www.physio-pedia.com/Gluteal_Muscles?utm_source=physiopedia&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=ongoing_internal