Arthritis is a common condition that affects about 70 million Americans. Waking up with achy, stiff joints can be debilitating, especially when those symptoms are accompanied by jolts of intense pain.
Fortunately, there are several therapeutic treatment options available to those with osteoarthritis. Exercising every day can help reduce the strain put on joints, though it may seem counterintuitive.
But stronger bones and muscles tend to pull their weight more easily and place less pressure on the knees, hips, and ankles. Let’s explore some of the most effective knee strengthening exercises for osteoarthritis.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and most often affects obese, heavily injured, or elderly individuals. Osteoarthritis tends to occur within the hands, wrists, knees, spine, and hips.
There are several potential causes of osteoarthritis, but some of the most common causes include:
- Deformations in bone tissue
- Athletic injuries
- Repetitious stress
- Age and gender
Older individuals are more prone to developing osteoarthritis, as are women. Jobs that require repetitious physicals actions that incorporate the hands, wrists, spine, knees, or hips may also lead to osteoarthritis.
In general, arthritis occurs when the soft cartilage between joints wears away or the joint fluid supplied by the joint membrane begins to decrease. This naturally happens as we age, though constant usage can also cause premature deterioration.
Fortunately, there are quite a few treatments and therapy options available that can help affected individuals manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
There are several treatment and therapy options available to those with osteoarthritis. Stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee is becoming more popular, though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve it.
Over-the-counter pain relievers are still a go-to treatment option, but regular consumption of aspirin or acetaminophen can cause kidney and liver damage. Many people with arthritis struggle to find an affordable and effective solution to their pain.
However, regular knee-strengthening exercises, a nutrient-rich diet, and plenty of self-care could be a drug-free alternative worth trying.
Related: Top Tips To A Healthy Body
9 Effective Knee Strengthening Exercises for Osteoarthritis
While exercise alone may not be enough to lessen osteoarthritis pain and stiffness, it can help strengthen the muscles and bones, resulting in better joint function. Eating a nutritious diet and getting plenty of rest is also crucial.
Exercise could help reduce the severity of osteoarthritis symptoms, and the following exercises are some of the best and most effective knee-strengthening options for those with osteoarthritis in the knees.
1. Chair Mini Squats
A set of chair mini squats could be just the thing to help you strengthen your knees, glutes, lower back, and legs. To perform this exercise, you’ll need a chair with a high back. Position yourself behind the chair and place your arms atop the back.
Step backward until your arms are fully extended but comfortably resting on the chair. Then, straighten your back and slowly bend your knees. Do not bend past your toes or feet, as this may become painful and physically dangerous.
Hold your slight-squat for ten seconds, then come back up into standing position. You can repeat this exercise as desired.
2. Gentle Walking
Going for a gentle walk can be one of the best things for osteoarthritis of the knee. It may be challenging to walk more than a few dozen feet during your first few outings, especially if you’re dealing with long-term osteoarthritis of the knees.
However, the more often you challenge yourself to complete these little walks, the longer and less painful they may become. Of course, you can always opt for water aerobics.
3. Water Aerobics
Water aerobic is a broad term that refers to stretches and gentle exercises performed in a large body of water, such as a swimming pool. These types of exercises can be beneficial for individuals with joint pain and stiffness.
That’s because semi-submerged bodies experience less pressure and pull. The water helps to support individuals engaged in water aerobics, allowing them to move more freely and comfortably than ever before.
4. Lying Hamstring Stretch
You’ll need a resistance band or long piece of cloth for this exercise. An old scarf or set of sheets can do the trick if you’re in a bind. Once you have your tool, lie down on a comfortable and supportive surface.
Stretch your legs out before you. Place your band or cloth on the sole of one foot, being sure to grab the sides closest to you. Lift the leg with the banded foot without stretching your knee.
Push against the band with your foot while pulling with your hands. Hold the straightened, raised leg aloft for several seconds before letting it lower.
5. Lying Straight Leg Raise
The lying straight leg raise is very similar to the hamstring stretch, but you can perform this exercise without any added equipment. While lying down, straighten your legs and lift one up into the air without bending your knee.
Hold your leg in the air for several seconds before slowly lowering it back to the ground. Repeat with the other leg as necessary.
6. Calf Stretch
A good calf stretch can help you feel more energized and physically capable. To perform a calf stretch, place your hands against a wall. Then take a step back with one foot, allowing the leg to straighten at a diagonal angle. Repeat with the other leg.
7. Chair Leg Dip
As with the mini squats, you’ll need a chair for this exercise. Place one hand on the back of a stable, heavy chair. Then, raise one foot into the air. You can lift your foot several inches or only slightly, depending on your preferences.
With one foot slightly raised, dip down toward the floor. Be sure to bend the knee belonging to the foot that is still firmly settled. Rise back up after several seconds and repeat!
8. Seated Leg Stretch
The seated leg stretch can be an excellent exercise for those with low aerobic endurance. To perform this exercise, you’ll simply need to sit down and stretch your legs out before.
While in this position, allow yourself to stretch your toes out, almost as if you are trying to reach something. Feel the stretch in your legs, feet, and toes. Then, relax your muscles for a moment.
When you’re ready, bring one foot up so that it is firmly against the floor. Your knee should bend as you do this. Take your time, as this exercise should not be painful. Once your foot is firmly against the floor, gently extend it outward again.
Repeat for the other leg as well. This exercise can be done in a swimming pool to help reduce the amount of joint pressure an individual experiences.
9. Lying Quadriceps Stretch
This final exercise can also be performed while lying on your back. It is also one of the easiest knee-strengthening exercises to do. You’ll simply need a comfortable, flat surface and a rolled-up towel or hard-sided water bottle.
Place your rounded object beneath one of your knees, allowing the upper leg to lift slightly as you do so. Then, return to your original supine position with your arms by your sides and your hands either resting on your belly or by your hips.
Concentrate on tightening the quadriceps muscles of your upper leg. Count to ten, then gently relax your muscles. Repeat several times then switch to the other leg.
Fight Back Against Osteoarthritis
There are tons of knee strengthening exercises for osteoarthritis that are appropriate for individuals of all ages and body types. Fighting back against osteoarthritis often starts with learning more about arthritis and why it happens.
However, overcoming stiff knees and achy joints requires a consistent effort. The exercises listed above could help lead the way to stronger muscles and bones, helping you feel and look better while dealing with osteoarthritis.
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