If you suffer from knee osteoarthritis, sometimes the last thing you want to do is try to exercise. However, studies repeatedly show that physical activity decreases pain overall and slows the progression of the disease. People who exercise regularly have better physical functioning, a greater range of motion and a higher quality of life.
Today let’s look at some of the specific exercises that can help knee pain due to osteoarthritis.
Just one foot in front of another
The simple act of walking offers so many benefits. Researchers report that walking does all of the following:
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Prevents or manages conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure
- Improves mood
- Improves balance and coordination
- Strengthens bones and muscles 
In regards to knee pain specifically, a recent study looked at the effects of walking either for 45 minutes at a time or in shorter 15 minute intervals . Researchers found that it’s actually better to break up walking exercise into 15 minutes. The participants in the study reported increased pain when walking longer than 30 minutes, but no increase in pain after 15 minutes. Breaking up exercise in manageable chunks offers comparable benefits with little pain!
If you are starting a walking routine, aim to walk for a total of 30-45 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week. The study participants walked on treadmills, but a walk around the neighborhood works, too. It can be as simple as a brief walk during your lunch break or even with a friend!
Break a sweat?
More strenuous exercise has also been considered. Weightlifting under the direct supervision of a doctor or physical therapist is one option.
Just this year, a more gentle exercise routine for knee osteoarthritis was studied. They prescribed an “isometric contraction exercise protocol” . In layman terms, they prescribed a series of leg lifts. While lying down, the participants raised and lowered one leg to exercise the quadriceps. They also raised and lowered a leg while lying on their side.
Knee Strength-Four Way Leg Lifts
From these simple movements, participants reported great benefits. After three months, the exercisers had better knee joint function than those who did not perform these exercises. They also reported less pain after three months whereas the people who did not exercise did not improve. For people suffering from pain and lack of mobility, this is great news.
If any of these programs sound good to you, be sure to get the ok from your physician first. A meeting with a physical therapist can also help. They can prescribe specific exercises and watch your form before you try it at home. For combined support, relief, and exercise please check out our Osteoarthritis Care Kit.
Managing knee osteoarthritis requires some work on your part, but the benefits are real. With the proper care you can enjoy more pain-free days and a better quality of life! Get moving!