Are you living with knee arthritis? Have you chosen or been told by your surgeon to wait for knee replacement surgery, but still need to manage and treat the pain? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you are going to learn here how exercise can help as a treatment for your knee arthritis and improve your daily quality of life.
There are many treatments for knee arthritis including anti inflammatory medication, injections, supplements, nutrition, and exercise. If you had seen and heard the hundreds of positive reports for the benefits of exercise to decrease pain and stiffness and improve your overall quality of life with knee arthritis, you would be jumping, okay maybe stepping, in to your sneakers right now.
The Key is to Select the Type of Exercise that is Best for Knee Arthritis
Best Cardiovascular Exercise for Knee Arthritis
If you have knee osteoarthritis and want to know what the best cardiovascular exercise is to help relieve stiffness, it is stationary cycling or outdoor cycling depending on your ability and balance. A stationary bike is your best aerobic conditioning option for two important reasons:
1. It is a non weight bearing option which prevents pain and inflammation
2. It works your knee through a good range of motion which helps lubricate your joint
Walking outdoors or on the treadmill is still a good option, but often the volume you can do in distance or time is limited due to pain as well as your ability to challenge your aerobic capacity. Swimming or better yet aqua aerobics can be another good option as it is non weight bearing. If you select water aerobics just make sure you have someone show you good range of motion exercises you can do for your knee in the water.
The Most Important Strength Exercises for Knee Arthritis
In a healthy knee joint, the bones, ligaments, tendons, meniscus, and muscles help to stabilize the joint. In an arthritic knee joint the bones, ligaments, and meniscus may all be compromised and the muscle and tendon strength will be starting to deteriorate due to pain and lack of use. Therefore, maintaining or gaining strength in the muscles that support the knee is the one thing you can do to help support the stability of your knee joint. Just as with the cardiovascular options, you will also need to most likely focus on strength exercises that are non weight bearing. So what muscles are the most important to strengthen in order to stabilize your knee?
- VMO Vastus Medialis Obliques (this is your medial Quadricep muscle)
- Gluteus Medius
- Adductor Group (these are your inner thigh muscles)
Here is an example of a great strength exercise for your quadricep and VMO: Circle Foam Knee Extension
There are many other muscles including the hamstrings, calves, and gluteus maximus that play a role in your overall functioning, but the above four have been known to give the greatest benefit generally to everyone with knee osteoarthritis. When you strengthen these muscles, they can act as shock absorbers of joint stress when walking, climbing stairs and doing other daily activities. In addition, they give you strength and confidence to continue being active with your daily physical demands or hobbies. You can do a lot for yourself in managing your arthritis and being able to continually be physically active by doing a few strength exercises bi weekly.
Stretches and Range of motion exercises to Improve Flexibility for Knee Arthritis
One of the most noticeable impacts arthritis will have on your knee joint is how it will change your range of motion. Arthritis of the knee changes your range of motion in both knee extension and flexion. What happens with the deterioration of the joint and loss of cartilage is you will begin to have bone on bone which causes inflammation. This inflammation or swelling causes pain and also sends a signal to tighten surrounding muscles to protect; it is this trio of pain, swelling, and muscle tightening that then produces the change of range of motion at your knee joint. You may experience a loss of flexion or the ability to bend your knee and/or you could experience a decrease in your ability to extend or straighten your knee. Losing range of motion at your knee can change your functional ability to perform daily tasks and therefore is why implementing these type of exercises in to your exercise program are so important.
Best Stretches and Flexibility Exercises for Knee Arthritis to Improve Range of Motion
- Prone or Supine Knee Extension
- Supine or Seated Knee Flexion with Ball (ball work requires assistant)
- Hamstring Stretch for Knee Extension (Seated or Supine)
- Calf Stretch for Knee Extension (Standing)
- Quadricep Stretch (Supine, side lying, or seated)
- Illiotibial band stretch (Supine, side lying, or standing)
There are so many excellent flexibility and stretching exercises that will improve the range of motion at your knee. You can do these exercises more regularly, daily or five days a week, as they are not high intensity and they really help alleviate pain at the knee.
For more ideas and to learn about a complete exercise program for your knee arthritis that you can do at home, find a local personal trainer who specializes in arthritis or visit us here: