That’s why you walk, swim, dance, cycle, or otherwise focus on maintaining fluid motion in your knees every single day.
But did you know that there are exercises for arthritic knees that can target your joints and help keep them healthy?
Ideally, you should be combining your favorite aerobic, fluid motion exercises with strength and stretching exercises for your knee arthritis.
Understanding Exercise and Arthritic Knees
Even though your knees may be stiff, achy, and some days even painful, it’s still important to exercise because exercise helps maintain joint range of motion, strengthen the muscles that help support the joint, and help the joints absorb shock better.
The key is to get the right kind of exercise for arthritic knees.
Running, jumping, or stomping should be avoided. Those exercises are simply too jarring for arthritic knees. Instead, look to low-impact exercises that will keep your joints moving freely like walking, swimming, cycling, even golf or dancing.
These are the fluid motion exercises that help keep your knees from getting too stiff to enjoy life. Try to get thirty minutes of fluid motion exercise at least five days a week. You can even break it up into three 10-minute sessions if you prefer.
Then there are the strength and stretch exercises that are so good for arthritic knees. Start with one set of three to four repetitions, or reps, at a time. Work up to eight to ten reps. Once you’re comfortable there, increase the sets you do until you’re doing three sets of eight to ten reps a day.
The most important thing is to not overdo it. Listen to your body. You’re not in competition with anyone, not even yourself. Take your time and make sure the exercises for your arthritic knees are actually helping, not hurting.
Taking the Next Step Beyond Walking
So you’ve gotten your thirty minutes of walking or other fluid motion exercise. It’s time to add the strength and stretch exercises for your knee arthritis. These are the exercises that help build and maintain range of motion, flexibility, and strength so your knees are supported on every level!
1. Calf raise. This may not seem like a knee exercise, but the stronger the muscles in your legs, the better they can support your knee joints. Stand behind your chair and hold onto the back for balance. If you’ve got good balance, just rest your hands lightly on the back.
Beginners: raise up on your toes, hold for three beats, lower back down. That’s one. Repeat three to four times.
Intermediate: balance on one foot. Using only that foot, raise up onto your toes, hold for three beats, lower back down. Repeat three to four times. Switch feet.
Advanced: stand on a curb or bottom stair, so your heels drop down off the edge. Raise up onto your toes, hold for three beats, lower back down. Repeat three to four times.
2. Side leg raise. Stay behind your chair, holding on lightly for balance. Put your weight onto your left leg and keep your left knee soft. Slowly, raise your right leg up and out to the side. Hold for one second, then lower. Repeat three to four times. Switch legs.
3. Knee curl. While you’re behind your chair, stand on your left leg. Lift your right leg out behind you, but don’t point your toe. Bend your knee, so you’re bringing your heel up toward your butt. Hold for one second, then lower your foot to the floor. Repeat three to four times. Switch.
4. Quadriceps lift. You finally get to sit in your chair! Make sure that your back is straight and your feet are flat. Now, extend your right leg straight out in front of you, toes pointing to the ceiling. If you can lift your thigh off the chair just a little, that’s great. Hold for a second, then lower your foot flat to the floor. Repeat three to four times. Switch legs.
Now Give a Good Stretch
You’ve gotten the strength exercises for your arthritic knees out of the way, it’s time to move onto the stretch.
5. Hamstring stretch. Since you’re seated, we’ll start here. Move to the edge of your chair. Keep your left foot flat on the ground. Extend your right foot, so your heel is on the floor and your toes are pointing to the ceiling. Keep your back straight, and hinge forward from your hips, over your lap. Again, think about a hinge, not a bow. Keep your chest up and stay looking ahead of you in order to help maintain proper form. Hold for ten seconds, then relax. Repeat three to four times. Switch legs.
6. Calf stretch. And hamstring stretch…and quadriceps stretch. Because the truth is that if you do this stretch correctly, you can feel it throughout your leg. Stand behind you chair, resting your hands on the back. Slide one foot back, keeping the heel flat on the floor. Tuck your hips until you begin to feel the stretch…everywhere. Hold for ten seconds then release. Repeat three to four time. Switch legs.
7. Forward bend. Stand up, keeping both feet flat on the floor, about shoulder width apart. Slowly fold, reaching toward the ground. Don’t worry if you can touch your toes, or flatten your hands next to your feet, or anything like that right now. As you get more flexible, you can try to reach farther. For now, just fold, reach for the ground, and hang there while paying attention to the stretch down the back of your legs. Take five deep, slow breaths in and out. Curling your spine and rounding your back, slowly stand back up. Don’t let your shoulders hunch up around your ears. You can repeat this one, but you don’t have to.
And there you have it! Seven exercises for your arthritic knees. If you’re new to exercise, don’t be surprised if your muscles – or even your knees - are a little achy or sore. That’s to be expected until your body gets used to moving this way.
One way to help counter that ache is to apply heat to your knee twenty minutes before you start to exercise. When you’re done, finish up with ten to fifteen minutes of ice on your knee.
And, of course, another way is to have Arthritis Relief Cream or some other topical pain reliever at hand. Just a quick rub and your pain is gone almost immediately.
Aerobic, fluid motion exercise, combined with strength and stretch exercises for your arthritic knees - and a touch of Arthritis Relief Cream to keep the aches at bay – and stiff, achy knees can be a thing of the past!