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10 Best Knee Arthritis Exercises for Pain Relief – Ask Doctor Jo

hey everybody it’s Doctor Jo and miss Kali, and today we’re going to show you the 10 best knee arthritis exercises. so let’s get started. You like my shirt? the folks at MD sent me their moisture-wicking t-shirt, and if you’re interested in purchasing it make sure and click on the link up there. so the first exercise I really like especially with knee arthritis. if you’re already having a lot of pain, you want to start off with just some gentle stuff, so quad sets are one of my favorites because you’re starting to activate the muscle, but you’re not really getting a whole lot of movement that’s painful.

For quad sets, I usually like taking a little towel and rolling it up or you can use something just like a pool noodle just to give yourself a target. you don’t have to use that, but I feel like you can get a better activation of your quad muscle if you’re pushing down into something, but you can definitely just do it without anything. so all you’re doing is just pushing that knee down into the roll the towel or the floor to contract that quad muscle. you’re activating that muscle. you want to keep the heel down. sometimes people say well you know I’m squeezing it down like that, but then their heel comes up.

For this one you really want to try and keep the heel down. you’re just squeezing everything you should be able to see your muscle contract a little bit, and you want to hold it for about 3 to 5 seconds and then relax. so with this one if you have a lot of knee pain that arthritis pain, you might not see a big contraction like that, or it might hurt a little bit when you’re pushing really hard.

So just start off with maybe 50 percent of what you can push and just squeeze it down, hold it, relax, do about 5 or 10. and you can do these a couple times a day. so this is just a great way to start getting that muscle activated and working. so another one of my favorites is a bridge. bridging does a great job of working the muscles around the knee, around the hips, and the low back. and a lot of times when you have arthritis in the knee or anywhere, the the pain is going to be a level above and a level below. so working your hips and lower back as well it’s going to help because if you’re having pain in your knee, you’re gonna change your walking pattern which a lot of times will cause other things to hurt. so with the bridging, you’re just going to bring your knees up and get them maybe about hip-width apart, and then just bring your hips up while you’re driving your knees forward.

So it’s not just whipping the hips up, but kind of coming up one segment at a time as you’re driving those knees forward. so you’re coming up this way to about level. sometimes you might not be able to get that high to start off with, that’s fine, and then just nice and slow, one segment at a time, coming back down. so you don’t have to stop, but each segment, you don’t have to go you know like that, you can make it smooth, but really try and roll up and down pushing those knees forward. that’s gonna help activate the glutes and the hamstrings that have a lot to do with the knee. so again if you just come up that much to start off with because maybe it hurts a little bit or it’s hard to do, that’s okay.

Just work your way to getting all the way up to here and slowly coming back down. sometimes people do cramp up and the hamstrings a little bit when they do these, so again start off slow. don’t just go right into it because you might get a little bit of cramping back there. again start off with maybe ten, you can do two sets of ten a couple times a day.

So then you’re gonna go into hip abduction. you can do this with a band. I like the loop ones just because they’re easy to get on, but just put it right above your knees. and so this time still with your knees propped up, you’re just gonna kind of roll them out. you don’t have to go all the way out. you just go to your comfort level, but the key is to slowly control it coming back in.

So you’re not just going out and then like that. but really control that coming in. and that’s gonna work those outer muscles around the knee. and so again sometimes you might feel a little pain out there. with knee on arthritis you’re gonna have a little bit of pain in the beginning, and that’s okay as long as it’s not sharp really hard pain. maybe a little bit of achy pain, that’s pretty normal. that arthritis is gonna hurt a little bit, but the more you do, the better it should get. so really nice and controlled with the movement. nothing fast because if you’re going fast you’re just using momentum. so just start up again maybe about ten of them, do a couple sets.

You can do these a couple of times a day. so after you do the abduction, now you’re gonna do ad adduction. so you can use a pillow, you can use a ball, but you want to have something that’s a little bit bigger so your knees aren’t so close together. that they’re still about hip width apart. and so this time you’re gonna squeeze in. so just squeezing into that ball holding it for about three to five seconds and then relaxing. this time it’s working those inner muscles. a lot of times people feel it in the groin area or the inside of the knee, and again that’s okay if you’re feeling a little bit of pain. maybe achy pain or fatigue pain, but if you’re getting sharp pain somewhere, either you’re pushing too hard or maybe you’re not quite ready for this yet.

So again squeezing in, holding it for about three to five seconds, doing that about ten times. so then you’re gonna go into a straight leg raise. a lot of times people see these a lot with knee pain, hip pain, sometimes a little back pain. with the straight leg raise is kind of like it sounds, you’re putting your legs straight out. I like pulling up my toes because that just kind of helps lock out everything and activate all the muscles. again you want to go slow with this. you don’t want to go super fast, but you’re just coming up to about the height of the other knee and then slowly coming down. so you’re not coming all the way up like that because in most of time you’re using momentum to do it. really control that movement, get about to there, and then slowly come back down. some people do ask can I put the other leg down. you can, but a lot of times that puts a little bit of stress on your low back.

So if it’s if it’s comfortable to do this propped up, really prop it up because it also gives you a target about how high you should take it up. so again ten times, you know two to three sets, a couple times a day. if this becomes easy and then you get up to 20-25 it’s really easy, you can put a little ankle weight around your ankle. so then we’re gonna go into clam shells. clam shells are ones that look really easy, but they’re if you do them correctly, they’re pretty hard. I’m gonna prop up on my elbow. you don’t have to prop up on your elbow, make sure you’re comfortable, make sure you’re not hurting something else while you’re doing it. so if you want to lie all the way down that’s fine. I just find it easier to talk to you with my elbow propped up.

But make sure if you prop up on your elbow that your elbows pretty in alignment with your shoulder so you don’t end up hurting your shoulder. the key to this is your hips should be perpendicular to the floor. so if you’re lifting your leg and you’re rolling back like that, you’re not getting the work that you really want to do. so this you’ll probably feel more in your gluteus medius and those glutes muscles, but these have a lot to do with the knee.

So if you’re getting these stronger, your knees gonna feel better. keep your feet together. you don’t want to lift up your your foot, but you’re just lifting up your top knee without rolling back. so you’re just coming up. again you don’t have to come very high, and then nice and control back down. so if I’m doing this and my hips are rolling back, that’s not quite right because then you’re not really working those muscles.

So it doesn’t, you don’t have to lift it high, you just have to get it controlled and keep those hips perpendicular. so again just starting off with ten, two sets of ten, if you can get up to fifteen twenty to twenty five, and it’s easy, then you can wrap one of those loop bands for resistive bands around and then give yourself a little bit resistance. if both knees hurt make sure you’re doing both sides for all of these. so now we’re going to do some stuff sitting in a chair. so now that I’m sitting in a chair, I’m gonna do a hip flexion exercise. with a hip flexion, it’s kind of just bringing your leg up this way, but really just trying to take that knee up towards the ceiling. again this is hip flexion but it’s really working the knee for arthritis, too because all these muscles are either connected to each joint, or they help work that joint. so when you’re coming up this way, if you’ve got some arthritis in there, sometimes it’s a little painful.

So you can bring your leg out a little bit if you have a hard time bending, but this will help something with that bending as well. if this gets really easy for you, you’re doing the 10 and 2 sets, and you get to 20-25, you can add on with the ankle weights. I would start off with really really light if you’ve got a bunch of different sets, but again you’re still just bringing that knee up.

And sometimes if you’ve got that arthritis in the knee, the ankle weights feel a little bit better because it’s giving a little bit of traction on that leg to give that space and the knee opening up that space a little bit. so sometimes people say that the ankle weights feel a little bit better. so if you’ve got some, you can work up to those as well. and then the next one is knee extension, or we call them long arc quads. so this time you’re just taking your leg and going straight out. I like pulling up my toes at the end to really get that squeeze or contraction of the quad muscle. you don’t have to.

Some people asked if you have to or not. you can just come up this way because sometimes that pull at the end because it’s stretching your calf muscle and tightening up that quad muscles so sometimes it feels a little uncomfortable for that pull, but to get the most benefit out of this exercise I really think pulling out those toes at the end is good. you can use an ankle weight with these. sometimes it’s not as much of a favorite of mine because it’s an open chain when you have X more weights on the end, sometimes it does put a little stress on that knee joint, so just try it if you want to, but if it’s a little bit painful, I’d go ahead and hold off on doing the weights for that one.

So the last two exercises are going to be standing up. so in standing, now you’re gonna do heel toe raises. with heel toe raises I like having my feet about shoulder width apart just because that kind of opens up the space a little bit. it gives you a little bit better balance, but when you’re starting off, make sure and hold on to something. it doesn’t really take away from the exercise but eventually if you want to not hold on. you do get a little bit of a better workout. so when you’re doing the heel toe raises, make sure you’re going slow and controlled. I like to put them together, but you can just do heel raises and then toe raises, but I kind of like the rocking back. so you’re just gonna come up lifting up the heels and then slowly come down and then lift your toes up.

But try not to stick your bottom back to pull up your toes. some people do that, but then you’re kind of using your bottom to get those toes up, so even if your toes just come up a little bit, that’s okay. really try and work them coming up that way. but just a nice kind of slow rock back and forth. so again this is for the progression if you get to 20-25 and it’s easy, you can try without holding on which does make it a little bit harder because then there’s a balance component into it. or if you want to get make it a little harder, then you can just do one foot at a time. which again makes it a little bit harder working on it. so the last exercise is going to be a mini squat. when you have knee arthritis, squats are actually good once you can get the pain minimize because it’s working all those muscles around that joint, but in the beginning they might be painful.

So that’s why I always say start off with mini squats. so really mini squats the technique is the same for a regular squat, but you’re just not going to go down as far. so you want your feet about shoulder width apart. you want to keep weight equally on your heels and your toes. so not leaning back on your heels, not coming up on your toes, but you want your feet to be pretty equalized out. and you want to stick your booty back. a lot of times people want to come down like this, but then all that pressure is on your knee joint, and that’s what makes it painful. if you can’t see your toes when you bend down, then you’re going too far in front and you’re putting too much pressure on your knee joint.

so stick your booty out. see I can see my toes that way, I can’t see my toes that way. so stick the booty out. and this is a mini squat. that’s all you have to go. you don’t have to go any further than that. just until you kind of feel some tightness in there. maybe a little bit of pain, and then come back up. and then you can slowly work down until that full squat, but make sure that you’re keeping those knees behind the toes. so start off with just a little bit. if it becomes easier, then you can go a little bit lower. so those are your ten best knee arthritis exercises. if you’re interested in purchasing the MD moisture-wicking t-shirt, make sure and click on the link up there, and don’t forget to subscribe by clicking down there. and remember be safe (right? yeah!), have fun, and I hope you feel better soon..

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