Exercise Program for Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Exercises for Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Photo of a young woman squatting at the gym.
Your PT can recommend exercises for your Osgood-Schlatter disease. Kevin Kozicki / Getty Images

If you child has pain in the front of one or both knees, he or she may be suffering from a condition called Osgood-Schlatter disease. Your child may benefit from a course of physical therapy to help improve flexibility, strength, and balance to lessen stress and strain on the knees and to get back to normal activity levels.

Exercise should be the main component of a PT program for Osgood-Schlatter disease of the knees. The exercise prescription from your physical therapist should be personalized to your child's specific needs and to the impairments that are found during the PT initial evaluation.

This step-by-step exercise program is similar to one that your physical therapist may prescribe for your child if he or she has knee pain due to Osgood-Schlatter disease. It is designed to help improve flexibility, strength and balance of the lower extremities to help take pressure off the tibial tubercles.

If your child has Osgood-Schlatter disease, you must check in with the pediatrician before starting this--or any other--exercise program.

Quadriceps Stretching for Osgood-Schlatter

Use a towel to stretch the quads on the front of the thigh.
A towel can be used to help stretch the quadriceps muscle. Brett Sears, PT, 2012

Research indicates that a loss of knee flexion range of motion--likely due to tight quadriceps--may be one cause of Osgood-Schlatter disease. Stretching the quads can help take pressure off the patellar tendon and tibial tubercle where Osgood-Schlater knee pain is felt.

An easy exercise for children to do is the towel quad stretch. To perform the stretch, lie on your stomach, and bend your knee up as far as possible. Loop a towel around your ankle, and grasp the towel to gently pull your knee up further. You should feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds, and then release slowly. Repeat 3 times.

Hamstring Stretches for Osgood-Schlatter

The standing hamstring stretch can be a safe and effective way to stretch your hamstring muscles.
The standing hamstring stretch is an easy way to stretch your hamstrings while on the go. Brett Sears, 2012

The hamstring muscles course along the back of your thighs from your hip to just behind your knees. Tightness here may create excessive tension in the knee when your child is straightening their knees out.

Stretching your hamstrings can be an important component to your Osgood-Schlatter exercise plan. Performing the towel hamstring stretch or a standing hamstring stretch are simple ways to improve ​flexibility of the hammys. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds and perform 3 times for each stretch.

Bonus: Step-by-Step Guide to Hamstring Stretches

Calf Stretches

Photo of a woman stretching her calf.
You can do the runner's stretch to improve hamstring and calf flexibility. Buff spandex / Getty Images

Tightness in your calf muscles may change the way your knee moves when walking and running, and this may place increased stress through your patella tendon, leading to Osgood-Schlatter disease.

Working on calf stretches can help improve the flexibility of your lower extremity, leading to a decrease in knee pain while running.

Stretches for your calf muscles may include:

Be sure to hold your stretches for about 15 seconds and repeat each one 3 times. Stretches should be done slowly and gently and should be stopped if pain is felt.

Strengthening Exercises for Osgood-Schlatter

Photo of trail runner with knee pain.
Keepin your legs strong may be a part of your Osgood-Schlatter exercise program. Yuir_Arcurs/Getty Images

Osgood-Schlatter disease is mainly thought to be a problem that comes with rapid growth in a child, and therefore a lack of muscle flexibility is considered the main cause of the knee pain that comes with the diagnosis. Does that mean that strengthening should be ignored? Not at all.

Keeping your lower extremity muscles strong can help keep stress and strain to a minimum at the painful areas in the front of your knees. Exercise should include:

Most people benefit from performing 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise a few times a week to maintain good muscle strength in the lower extremities.

Balance and Coordination for Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Photo of woman practicing yoga on the beach.
The T-Stance is a great exercise to build better balance. Zero Creatives/Getty Images

Some people with Osgood-Schlatter disease may exhibit impaired balance or proprioception, and this may place excessive strain on the knees, especially during high-level sports and activities. Keeping balance in tip-top shape may help lessen the pain that your child feels in his or her knees.

Balance exercises may include:

Working on proprioception exercises requires that you create situations where your balance may be compromised, so safety is a must at all times. Check in with your PT to find the best way to accomplish this task.

If your child has Osgood-Schlatter disease that causes knee pain, you should check in with his or her pediatrician to get an accurate diagnosis and to start on the right treatment. Physical therapy can and should be a part of that treatment. Your PT can teach your child exercises--like the ones in this program--that can help improve flexibility, strength, and balance. This can help relieve stress and strain of the knees and help your child get back to normal activities quickly and safely


Scaron;arčević, Z. Limited ankle dorsiflexion: a predisposing factor to Morbus Osgood Schlatter? Knee surgery, sports traumatology, arthroscopy. 16(726) August, 2008.
Tzalach, A, etal. The correlation between knee flexion lower range of motion and Osgood-Schlatter's syndrome among adolescent soccer players. BJMMR. 11(2), 2016.