The Real Reason Why You Get Knee Pain When Sitting for Long Periods

If you’ve been experiencing stiffness in your knees when you stand or aching after you’ve been sitting for a while, you are not alone.

Many Americans suffer from knee pain and one of the most common reasons is they sit for too long throughout the day. Knee pain can arise from sitting for long periods, therefore is common in office workers and those that work from home at a desk.

Why does sitting cause knee pain?

Humans were not designed to spend most of the day sitting, so this puts significant strain on your buddy, especially your joints. Your knees are one of the most used joints in the action of sitting, so it stands to reason they would be greatly impacted by extended sitting.

To understand why sitting causes knee pain, you need to understand the factors that contribute to this sort of pain.

Factors that Contribute to Knee Pain

Sitting Position

If you are sitting on top of one of your legs, or top of both, this can be very harsh on your joints. These kinds of positions are detrimental to your kneecaps and other joints. If you will be sitting for extended periods, we recommend you familiarize yourself with ergonomic ways to sit.


The cause of your knee pain could be the chair you use at work. Not all office chairs are designed with ergonomics in mind so if your chair isn’t supporting your legs and back properly, this can manifest in knee pain.

The solution to this is to replace it with an ergonomic chair and ensure your keyboard and monitor are adjusted for maximum comfort and minimal bodily strain. If buying a new chair isn’t an option, the addition of an ergonomic seat cushion, lumbar pillow, or footrest can make a difference.

Length of Time Sitting

Sitting for extended periods harms your knees and general bodily comfort. It is recommended not to sit for more than 6-8 hours a day. If you have to sit for extended periods, you should get up and move around at least once an hour.

How to Prevent Knee Pain

The best way to prevent knee pain is to combat the contributing factors we have discussed.

  • Ensure you are using an ergonomic office chair that helps your joints rest comfortably. It is important to have furniture that will be kind to your body.
  • Look into ergonomic ways to sit if you have to sit for extended periods. If possible, try to move around at least once an hour throughout the day.
  • Make sure you are not sitting on top of your legs or in any other awkward position that could result in knee pain.
  • If you feel you don’t do any of these things, the pain may be the result of an underlying condition. We recommend seeing a doctor if the pain persists.

How to Cure Knee Pain

The best way to deal with knee pain from sitting for long periods is to prevent the pain from occurring. Following the advice above, you can avoid knee pain altogether.

However, if you are already suffering, medical professionals recommend utilizing the P.R.I.C.E. method, which means protection, rest, icing, compression, and elevation. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can help reduce the pain but don’t eliminate the source.


Knee pain can be indicative of more serious conditions. These health conditions associated with knee pain could be caused by extended or improper sitting, but the pain could also be your body trying to alert you to a worse problem. Keep these conditions in mind when assessing your knee pain.

Health conditions associated with knee pain include:

Sprained ligaments

A sprained ligament is when your ligament tears. It can be very painful and is usually caused by strenuous physical activity. This is not often caused by excessive sitting, but if the joint becomes stiff enough, a small but rapid movement could tear the ligament from the bone.

Strained ligaments

A strained ligament is similar to a sprained ligament, but the ligament is just over-stretched and not torn. This is just as painful as a sprain and more likely to occur in office workers that sit too much.

Cartilage tears

Cartilage tears are most common in the knee. This is when the cartilage tears away from the bone. In the knee, this cartilage is called the meniscus and can cause a lot of pain when it tears. Cartilage tears usually occur during physical activities like sports, but office workers can experience it in poor ergonomic situations.


Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon that causes a great deal of pain and soreness around the joint area. When this occurs in the knees it is extremely painful and can be difficult to stand up and sit down comfortably.


knee pain when sitting for long periods
Source: Shutterstock

If your knees are stiff after they haven’t been moved for a bit, this may be the beginning of osteoarthritis that weakens your joints. Arthritis is a ​​chronic joint inflammation that typically occurs in people over 50 but can show up in younger individuals.

Bottom Line

Knee pain is a common issue among office workers, but it doesn’t need to be. Follow these preventative tips to stop your knees from aching and make your workday easier. And remember, the best way to stop knee pain is to prevent it.


Can I have knee pain from standing all day?

Yes, you absolutely can experience knee pain from standing on your feet for too long. Just like sitting for too long, excessive standing can lead to serious bodily issues like back pain, leg pain, and, yes, knee pain.

To combat this try to move around often and sit whenever possible.

What else causes knee pain?

Any activity that requires you to sit for extended periods such as:

  • Long events like the theatre
  • Meals
  • Leisure time

None of these activities is inherently bad for you, but excessive sitting can cause knee pain and these are the most common situations in which people sit for a while.

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