How Can Knee Arthritis Exercises Help?
Pain in your joints can put you down for the count, and knee arthritis is one reason that you might not be getting enough exercise. You don’t want to make the pain worse, so the only thing you exercise is caution.
Fortunately, there are some tried and true workout techniques that are beneficial if you suffer from arthritis of the knee.
Arthritis in the Knee and Exercise
Arthritis is inflammation of your joints, a disease that is common in the knee.
Types of arthritis that can affect your knee are osteoarthritis (wear and tear), rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease that damages cartilage), and posttraumatic arthritis (develops after injury).
The pain, swelling, and stiffness can make everyday activities difficult, but it doesn’t have to be a debilitating condition.
Some exercise can help reduce pain, support healthy joint function, increase range of motion, and allow you to stay active. Before you start a new fitness routine, be sure to consult with your physician regarding your specific needs and any challenges you may face with physical limitations.
If you feel any pain during knee exercises, stop immediately and schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Engaging in activity every day is beneficial for your overall health. Once your doctor has given you the green light, be sure to work out properly.
Arthritis Exercise Tips to Keep in Mind
Always make time to warm up; you may also want to apply heat to your sore joints before exercising to lessen the potential for injury. A ten-minute warmup prepares the muscles for activity and increases flexibility.
Make sure to stretch, as gentle stretching is a fundamental part of many arthritis treatments.
After your workout, be sure to cool down with more stretching or walking (if it is comfortable for you). You may need to apply an ice pack afterward to reduce swelling and minimize discomfort.
A few tips before getting started:
- Go slow to go fast. Take your time to reduce the likelihood of injury, especially when you are just starting out. While you may want to give it 100 percent right away, your body needs time to adjust to the workouts, so build your fitness regime gradually.
- Mix up your workouts. Repeating the same mechanical movements can put additional stress on your joints (not to mention the fact that the same workout gets boring after a while).
- Create an individualized workout. You are the one who lives in your body, and you know what works for you and what doesn’t. Workouts are not “one size fits all”, so consult with your doctor or physical therapist to find modifications that work for you.
5 Great Knee Arthritis Exercises Worth Trying
Here are five exercises that are beneficial to those with knee arthritis:
Squats are undesirable at the best of times, but you can’t argue with the results they offer. Doing proper squats targets your quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks.
Building strength in your leg muscles is beneficial because it increases the shock-absorbing ability of the muscles. Additionally, developing strength in these muscles increases stability in the knee joint which helps minimize the effect of knee arthritis.
With exercise, it’s important to do the movements with proper posture. If you have difficulty with traditional standing squats, you can squat against the wall, squat down to the seat of a chair, or use the back of a chair for balance.
If you've tried other treatment options for arthritis that haven't worked, then clinical trials for arthritis may be an option for you. Learn more here.
2. Stationary Biking
Biking is a great cardiovascular workout. It gets the heart going and is an exercise that excels in building strength in the hips and knees.
Unlike other cardio exercises, biking is less impactful on your joints. Stationary bikes can be adjusted for comfort, but depending on the state of your arthritis, a recumbent bike might be better suited for you.
Even though stationary bikes do not provide the outdoor element, they keep you away from traffic, obstacles, and they’re good for balance issues because there is no turning involved.
If you find yourself getting tired or sore during the workout, you can stop anytime without needing to figure out how to get yourself back to your starting point. Start with just a few minutes of cycling a day and add time slowly to build strength and tolerance.
3. Swimming or Water Aerobics
Water therapy offers those with knee arthritis the ability to get a low-impact aerobic workout.
A vast majority of your body weight is supported by the water, putting less stress on your body. The buoyancy of the water reduces pressure on knee joints, while the resistance it provides means your muscles need to work harder to move.
This workout helps tone your muscles without the stress that other fitness exercises have on your body.
Exercise in water is not just limited to swimming; aqua-jogging or aqua-aerobics classes are available so that you can change up your workouts. Classes are usually offered at your local recreation center.
While similar to yoga, Pilates focuses on the entire body with a concentration on your abdomen, lower back, buttocks, thighs, and knees. Pilates movements stimulate production of joint lubrication which prevents joint pain and increases range of motion.
Weight loss is an added benefit of Pilates, as the reduced body weight puts less pressure on the knees.
Pilates is another workout that can be modified to accommodate your limitations, and it’s a tough workout that will challenge you every time you do it.
5. Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a form of martial arts that is low-impact and great for the joints. This workout combines fluid, mindful movements which promote strength and improved flexibility.
Tai chi can help increase range of motion and even in pain reduction. Additional benefits of tai chi also include better balance, better circulation, and stress management.
There you have it. There is no need to hide indoors and miss out on exercising. The more frequently you (and mindfully) move your body, the stronger you will become, and the easier workouts will be. So grab your gym bag because your workout is calling.