Fitness

10 Knee Arthritis Exercises To Reduce Pain And Increase Mobility

by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
10 Knee Arthritis Exercises To Reduce Pain And Increase Mobility Hyderabd040-395603080 May 1, 2019

Knee arthritis is excruciatingly painful (1). Millions of Americans are affected by three types of knee arthritis – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout (2). To reduce knee pain and restore knee function, orthopedists and physiotherapists recommend therapeutic exercises along with medication (3), (4). Whether you have just been diagnosed with arthritis or are in the post-knee surgery rehabilitation phase, you MUST do low-impact knee mobility and strengthening exercises daily. Read on to know which exercises to do, how many times a day, and what to do if the pain increases. Scroll down.

In This Article, You Will Know…

How Will You Benefit From Knee Exercises?

People with arthritis get tremendous benefits by doing knee exercises regularly. These exercises help in the following ways:

  • May help strengthen your knee.
  • May help improve knee mobility and flexibility.
  • May make walking and climbing up the stairs easier for you.
  • You will be able to improve the quality of your life and not depend on someone to help you.
  • Help you live a stress-free and happy life.

To strengthen your knees, you must exercise the muscles that help in knee movement and flexibility. Check out which muscles they are in the following section.

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Which Muscles Should You Exercise To Improve Knee Strength And Flexibility?

The primary muscles you should target to increase knee strength, mobility, and flexibility are:

  • Quadriceps (muscles present at the front of your thighs)
  • Hamstrings (muscles present at the back of your thighs)
  • Calves (muscles present at the back of your lower leg)
  • Glutes (hip muscles)

Now that we have assimilated basic information, let’s get started with the exercises!

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Warm-Up

Warm-Up Pinit

Shutterstock

Before starting any exercise, you must warm up. Since you are dealing with arthritis, doing 50 jumping jacks or jogging on the spot for 5 minutes is out of the question! You may do any one of the following to warm up your muscles before doing knee strengthening exercises:

  • Use a warm towel to rub your knee in a circular motion slowly and gently.
  • Take a hot water shower.
  • Sit on your bed with your feet on the floor. Lift both your legs slowly and then get them back to the starting position.
  • Ask your physical therapist to massage the knee gently before exercising.

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10 Best Knee Arthritis Exercises

1. Sitting Heel Slide

Target – Hamstrings, quads, and calves

How To Do
  1. Sit on a chair. Move to the edge slightly, and place your arthritic leg at least one step ahead of the good leg (or the leg that you are not exercising right now).
  2. Now, keeping the foot flat on the floor, slide it back slowly and move past the other leg. Raise your heels slightly when your foot moves past the good leg.
  3. Get your foot back to the starting position and repeat.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 12 reps. Do this at least 5 times a day.

2. Quad Contractions

Target – Quads

How To Do
  1. Sit on a mat or the bed with both your legs extended forward. Place your hands behind you, palms flat on the mat/bed, and lean back slightly.
  2. Squeeze your quads. You will see your kneecaps move up.
  3. Hold this pose for 3 seconds.
  4. Release.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 12 reps. Do this 4-5 times a day.

3. Ankle Flexion And Extension

Target – Calves

How To Do
  1. Sit on a mat or bed with both your legs extended forward. Keep your hands behind you, palms flat on the mat, and back straight.
  2. Place a small rolled towel right where the shin bone ends, and the ankle starts.
  3. Flex your foot so that your toes point toward you. Hold this pose for 2 seconds.
  4. Extend your foot so that your toes point toward the floor. Hold this pose for 2 seconds.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 15 reps. Do this 5-6 times a day.

4. Short Arc Quadricep Exercise

Target – Quads and calves

How To Do
  1. Sit on a mat and place a rolled towel right below the arthritic knee. Make sure your heel touches the floor.
  2. Flex the other knee and place the sole of your foot against the towel. Place your palms behind you on the mat. This is your starting position.
  3. Flex your foot so that your toes point straight up at the ceiling. Raise your lower leg so that your shin bone and knee are at the same level.
  4. Hold this pose for a second. Lower your leg back to the starting position.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 8 reps. Do this 3-4 times a day.

5. Lying Hamstring Curls

Target – Hamstrings, quads, and glutes

How To Do
  1. Loop your ankle around one end of a resistance band and hold the other end of the band with both your hands.
  2. Lie down on your belly. Keep your elbows flexed and supporting your upper body, head up, and look straight ahead. This is your starting position.
  3. Bend your knee and bring your lower leg up so that it is perpendicular to the thigh.
  4. Pull the resistance band (as far and as long as you want without hurting your knee) and feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
  5. Hold it for 2 seconds and release.
  6. Lower your leg on the floor.
Sets And Reps

2 sets of 12 reps. Do this 3 times a day.

6. Resistance Band Calf Stretch

Target – Hamstrings, quads, and calves

How To Do
  1. Sit on a mat with the leg with the arthritic knee extended forward. Place the foot of the other leg against the inner thigh of the extended leg.
  2. Bend forward and place a resistance band against the ball of your foot.
  3. Sit straight, bend your elbows, and pull the resistance band so that the anterior (front) part of your foot points straight up toward the ceiling. Hold this pose for 3 seconds.
  4. Release. You will feel a stretch in your calves.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 8 reps. Do this 3-4 times a day.

7. Assisted Double Heel Raises

Target – Calves and hamstrings

How To Do
  1. Stand behind a chair and hold the back support of the chair with both hands.
  2. Raise both heels and hold the pose for a second.
  3. Lower your heels gently back to the ground.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 12 reps. Do this 4-5 times a day.

8. Towel Assisted Knee Flexion And Extension

Target – Hamstrings, quads, and calves

How To Do
  1. Grab the ends of a towel and sit on a mat with your legs extended forward, back straight, and shoulders relaxed. Look ahead.
  2. Bend your arthritic knee slightly. Place your foot on the towel with the ball and the hollow of your foot against the towel.
  3. Extend your leg slowly. You will feel a stretch in your calves. Make sure your back is straight, and you are not crouching forward. This is your starting position.
  4. Flex your knee, pull your hands close to your body, and bring your lower leg close to your glutes. Hold this pose for 2 seconds.
  5. Extend your legs forward and back to the starting position.
Sets And Reps

2 sets of 8 reps, 2-3 times a day.

9. Pool Walking

Target – Quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves

Pool Condition – Warm water pool

Remember – Up with your good leg, and down with your arthritic leg.

How To Do
  1. Stand close to the pool wall.
  2. Bend your knee, lift your leg, and place it in front of you.
  3. Bend the other knee, lift your leg, and place it in front of you.
  4. Walk 15 steps forward.
  5. Walk back to your original position.
Sets And Reps

Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps of forward and back steps each. Practice this once per day under the supervision of your physical therapist.

10. Pool Box Step Overs

Target – Quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves

Pool Condition – Warm water pool

Remember – Up with your good leg, and down with your arthritic leg.

How To Do
  1. Place a sinkable box at the bottom of the swimming pool, near the wall so that you get some support from the wall.
  2. Stand behind the box and place one hand on the wall to balance your body.
  3. Step on the box with your good leg first and then your arthritic leg.
  4. Step down in front of the box with your arthritic leg first and then your good leg.
  5. Take a back step on the box with your good leg first and then your arthritic leg.
  6. Step down behind the box with your arthritic leg first and then your good leg.
Sets And Reps

Initially, do 2 sets of 10 step ups and step downs. Take a break of 30 seconds (or more) between the two sets. Move on to doing more number of steps and reps as you progress. Do this once a day under the supervision of your physical therapist.

There you have it – 10 best and simple knee arthritis exercises that you may do at home throughout the day. But, be careful. Overdoing the exercises can deteriorate the condition of your knee. Find out in the next section how much exercise is good for you.

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How Much Exercise Is Good For You?

You must follow your doctor’s and physical therapist’s direction and advice. Initially, they will ask you to do less number of sets and reps. Follow that. Hastening the healing process will only push you two steps back. As you start developing strength and mobility, the physical therapist will advise you to increase the sets and reps. At all times, do not overdo the exercise sets and reps.

Now, what if you have followed the instructions properly and yet the pain seems to increase day by day? Find out in the next section.

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What To Do If The Pain Increases?

You must report to your therapist and doctor about the pain immediately. Stop doing the exercises and wait until your doctor gives you the green light to restart the therapy session. Also, take your medicines to prevent complications.

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What Else Can You Do To Reduce Knee Pain?

Apart from taking medicines and exercise therapy, you may do the following to reduce arthritic knee pain.

  • Reduce your weight if you have osteoarthritis.
  • Eat foods that do not cause inflammation in the body (like green veggies and fresh fruit juice).
  • Avoid smoking or consuming alcohol.
  • Take your medicines regularly.
  • Take hot water baths.
  • Do not travel to hill stations.
  • Use heating pads.

It is clear that you can try to reduce arthritis pain and improve the quality of your life. All you have to do is take your medicines on time, do the exercises, eat healthily, and change your lifestyle to get good results. With that in mind, start your therapy today. Take care!

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References

  1. Arthritis of the Knee” OrthoInfo.
  2. Arthritis By The Number” Arthritis Foundation.
  3. The pain-relieving qualities of exercise in knee osteoarthritis” Journal of Open Access Rheumatology: Research and Reviews, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Tips To Ease Pain Caused By Osteoarthritis Of The Knee” Knee Pain Relief.