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Best Exercises for Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

Experts have known for a long time that exercise can help relieve pain and improve function for people with knee osteoarthritis. Maybe you already go on gentle walks, swims and bike rides to help your health and improve your condition. Aerobic activity is a great part of any well-rounded exercise regimen.

However it’s important not to call it quits after you’re done with your aerobic activity. The best exercises for osteoarthritis knee pain include those that help you stay flexible and build your muscle strength. These might include practices like tai chi and yoga.

Woman knows a great exercise for osteoarthritis knee pain

Here are eight smart exercises to try if you have knee OA:

Strength Exercises for OA Knee Pain

Calf Raises

Find something to help your balance, like a table, chair or wall. Place your hands onto the object for support. Stand on your left leg and wrap your right leg around your left ankle. Gently rise up onto the ball of your left foot. Come down and repeat several raises. Make sure you are standing with good posture. It helps to keep your abdominal muscles and buttocks tight. When you have finished a few calf raises on the left foot, switch to the right and repeat.

Knee Curl

Stand with good posture and grab an object for balance, for example the back of a chair. Lift your left leg behind you. Make sure to keep it straight and not to point the toe. Bring your heel toward your behind as far as you can by bending only at the knee joint. Keep your standing leg gently bent and try not to move your hips. Hold the position for a second and then lower your left leg. Repeat 10-15 times, or whatever is comfortable for you. Repeat the movement with your right leg, then do the left leg, and then the right leg again.

Quadriceps Lift

Sit with good posture in a chair. Place your feet flat on the floor, straighten your back and tighten your abdomen. Extend your left leg with your toes pointing toward the ceiling. Raise your thigh a little bit off the chair. Lower and repeat with the right leg. Keep alternating and repeat as many times as feels right for your body.

Side Leg Lift

Find a chair or other sturdy object to grab for balance. Gently raise your left leg to the side. Your right knee should be slightly bent and your back straight. Hold your left leg up for a moment, then return it to the ground. Repeat 10-15 times. Do the same with your right leg. Switch back to the left and then to the right again.

Make sure you are only continuing with the exercise if it feels okay for your body. Also be sure to eat a good meal following your exercise routine.

Stretching Exercises for Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

Stretching exercise for osteoarthritis knee pain

Forward Bend

Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and bend your knees slightly. Bending forward at the waist, gently reach for your toes. There is no need to push yourself; simply go as far as feels comfortable. Let your arms dangle. Hold this position for five slow relaxing breaths. Then come up slowly. Try to unroll one vertebra at a time until you are upright again.

Quadriceps Stretch

Stand with good posture and place your right hand on a solid furniture piece or wall for support. Bend your left leg at the knee joint and grab it above the ankle with your left hand. Pull the ankle toward your buttocks, making sure to get a gentle stretch without hurting yourself. It helps to tighten your midsection and tuck your buttocks under. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then switch to the other leg.

Hamstring Stretch

This is another great stretch for someone hampered by osteoarthritis knee pain symptoms. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Sit down on the floor and stretch your legs on the floor in front of you
  2. Bend your left knee and put the bottom of your foot against the inside of the right leg
  3. Let your left knee drop toward the floor
  4. Bend forward gently at the hip and reach for the toes of your outstretched leg
  5. Only go as far as you find comfortable and try not to bend your upper back or neck
  6. Keep you chest as straight as possible
  7. Relax into the stretch and then come up slowly
  8. Repeat on the other leg

Chair Squat

If you have taken a yoga class before, you are likely familiar with the chair pose. Yoga has been shown to be a great exercise option for people living with osteoarthritis.

To do this stretch, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and face forward
  2. Raise your arms over your head and squat as if sitting down in a chair
  3. Simultaneously move your arms forward to help your balance
  4. Keep your knees over your ankles rather than letting them jut out past them
  5. Hold the position for a few moments and return to a normal standing position

You can also do this exercise with your arms by your sides or above your head. Just be sure to find the position that feels best for your body and osteoarthritis knee pain.

We hope that you find these strengthening and stretching exercises a great addition to your overall osteoarthritis treatment plan. It may seem counterintuitive but exercise has been proven to help osteoarthritis knee pain. Just be sure to discuss these exercises with your doctor first. With added strength and flexibility, your legs and knees will be feeling their best yet!

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