Arthritis is very common painful joint condition across the globe. The commonest forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). Both types mostly cause knee pain. Although it may seem counterintuitive, exercising an arthritic knee regularly can actually decrease, and even relieve arthritic symptoms like pain, swelling and stiffness. It is important to know which exercises are good for arthritic knees.
6 Exercises That Are Good For Arthritic Knees
Exercising is important for arthritic knee as it helps in maintaining the full range of motion of the joint, and strengthening the muscles which help the joint to absorb shock and support the joint. One does not need to workout hard to derive these benefits. In fact, low-impact, gentle exercises are best for knee arthritis since they minimize stress on the joint while increasing its strength and flexibility.
Wondering which exercises are good for arthritic knees? Well, the ideal knee exercises are the ones which can be done at home or even during breaks at the office. They are effective, easy, and convenient, and do not require any special equipment. These exercises should be done slowly and the number of repetitions should be increased gradually as the muscles become stronger. Some light stretching exercises should be done at the end of the work out session in order to prevent tightening of the muscles. It is best to exercise the knees every other day for giving sore muscles a rest.
Some of the most effective exercises, which are good for arthritic knees include,
#1. Lying Leg Raise
This exercise helps to strengthen the quadriceps, which are the large muscles in front of the thighs that attach to the knee joints. This is one of the simplest and effective exercises good for arthritic knees. To perform a leg raise, one has to lie flat on their back on the floor or bed with their arms at their sides and toes up. They need to keep their leg straight and tighten their leg muscles while slowly lifting it up several inches. They should also tighten their stomach muscles to push their lower back down. This position should be held for 5 seconds before gently lowering the leg. The entire movement should be repeated 5 times before switching legs.
#2. Lying Hamstring Stretch
This exercise strengthens and stretches the hamstrings which are muscles on the back of the thigh that connect to the knees. For hamstring stretch, the performer needs to lie on the floor or bed with both their legs bent. They need to slowly lift one bent leg and bring the knee back towards the chest. Their hands should be linked behind their thigh, and not the knee, as the leg is gradually straightened upwards. The straight leg should be pulled back towards the head until the stretch is felt. This posture should be held for 30 to 60 seconds, and then the knee should be slowly bent and the leg lowered back to the floor. This stretch should be performed once on each leg. This too is a very good exercise for arthritic knees.
Half squat makes the muscles on the front and back of the thigh and the gluteus, strong. For half squats, one needs to stand with their feet shoulder-distance apart and stretch their arms out in front. They should then slowly bend their knees until they are in a half-sitting position. A chair can be held for balance, if required. While performing the exercise, the individual should keep their back straight and chest lifted and avoid leaning forward. With their feet on the floor, they should hold this posture for around 5 seconds and then gradually return to the standing position. Half squats are very effective to build strength of the muscles that support the knee and are surely one of the exercises considered good for arthritic knees. However, it should be performed carefully and only when there is no acute knee pain.
#4. One-leg dip
This exercise strengthens the muscles on the buttocks and the front and back of the thighs. One leg dip is performed while standing between two back-to back facing stable chairs. These chairs should be held gently for balance. Then one leg should be lifted to around 12 inches above the floor and held out in front. While keeping the back straight, the other leg should be slowly bent and the body lowered a few inches, as if sitting on a chair. It should be ensured that the lifted leg does not cross the level of the bent leg. This position should be held for 5 seconds before straightening up again. The entire move should be repeated with the other leg. Initially, one set of 4 leg dips for both legs should be done, and this should be slowly worked up to three sets. This too is one of the exercises good for arthritic knees and can be performed effectively with regular practice.
#5. Leg Stretch
Leg stretch helps to strengthen the quadriceps and is very good for arthritic knees. In leg stretch, one needs to sit on the floor with both legs extended out straight. The hands should be kept on either side of the hips for stability, with the back straight. Then one knee should be slowly bent until a stretch is felt, but should not cause pain. The leg should be held for 5 seconds in this position before slowly straightening it out as far as possible and holding it again for 5 seconds. This exercise should be repeated 10 times before switching legs.
#6. Some Other Knee Exercises
Walking is one of the exercises considered good for arthritic knees. This is a low-impact, weight-bearing exercise which helps to strengthen the muscles and build bone. One should start by walking slowly for a short distance if knees are painful and then gradually increase the pace and distance covered, if health permits. Walking is best done by wearing good, sturdy sports shoes. Water exercises or walking in the shallow side of a pool are also excellent for building muscle strength and increasing knee flexibility. Aqua exercises or movements are very good for arthritic knees. Since the body is buoyant in water, the impact is reduced to near zero while the individual is made to work a little harder to move.
Things to Remember
It is beneficial to put moist-heat pack on the arthritic knee for 20 minutes before starting the exercises. It is recommended that people with knee arthritis practice moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, for five days a week. They can even break it down into three 10-minute sessions per day, for deriving the same benefits. The mobility is sure to improve and pain lessened within 4 to 6 weeks.
Heat soothes the knee, brings the blood to the surface, reduces stiffness, and relieves pain. Pain medications, if required, should be taken around 45 minutes before exercising for greater pain control during workout. After exercising, ice pack should be applied on the sore knee for about 10 to 15 minutes. This helps to decrease the swelling caused by exercise, to soothe and relieve pain as well.
Regular exercises are good for arthritic knees and it is normal to experience mild discomfort during exercise and slight soreness the day after exercise. But if severe swelling, pain, or stiffness is experienced, it is advisable to stop exercising the affected joint and visit a doctor without delay.
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