Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that usually occurs when the connective tissues in the knees break down from excessive movement and the bones rub on each other. In some cases, the bones in the knee joints may develop hard growths that rub on each other and cause similar symptoms.
Osteoarthritis most notably causes pain and stiffness in the joint, which can eventually make it difficult to walk, climb stairs or perform many other activities. Thankfully, an osteoarthritis exercise program using stretching, flexibility, strength and mobility exercises can help decrease certain symptoms and improve one’s quality of life.
Water exercises are particularly good because they strengthen the joints through the added weight of the water while the water also reduces overall impact. Water is notably easy on joints, being highly favored by many doctors over more common exercises, such as walking or aerobics.
The simplest water exercise is water walking, which is simply walking across the bottom of a pool. This can be done on one’s own in a shallow pool. To increase intensity, individuals can try water-based interval training or can work on lifting their knees higher. There are also many other organized water aerobic classes popping up across the country these days.
Aerobic and Easy Cardio Exercises
Aerobics and cardio exercises are not only good for the joints but are also great for the heart and lungs when done safely. Those who have only mild symptoms may still be able to take part in the following exercises if done gently.
However, there are certain knee arthritis exercises to avoid to prevent further injury. In general, anything that produces moderate to major impact on the knees should be avoided. For example, knee arthritis and cycling may not fit together well if cycling is done daily, on difficult terrain or with the knees bending more than 90 degrees. Other exercises that may need to be avoided include the following:
- Stair climbing
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and pilates are known for creating long, lean muscles and improving flexibility. Plus, they are gentle on the joints and are low impact. Therefore, they work well as stretching exercises for knee arthritis. Both of these types of exercise reduce soreness in one’s joints while also improving circulation through gentle movements. By focusing on the mental aspect of breath and body control, one may also be able to decrease the sensation of pain.
Knee Exercises at Home
Individuals do not have to rely only on physiotherapy exercises for knee osteoarthritis. There are many at-home exercises that individuals can do daily to decrease pain, improve flexibility in the knees and increase mobility
- Lying leg lifts strengthen the knees.
- Hamstring stretches mobilize the area.
- Knee squats strengthen the quadriceps, which stabilize the knees.
- Sit and stands improve leg strength.
- Leg crosses increase flexibility throughout the legs and stretch out the ligaments around the knees.