Exercising with knee pain may seem like an impossible feat, but it’s one of the most important treatments for knee arthritis.
When we encourage exercise for knee pain, we don’t expect you to take up jogging or join a step aerobics class. But we do encourage you to engage in activities that strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint, which reduces stress and pain.
At Interventional Pain Associates in Austin, Texas, our pain management specialist, Dr. Sarosh Saleemi, takes a holistic approach to care, using a combination of therapies to reduce discomfort and improve quality of life. Exercise is a key component of many of our treatment plans.
Here, we want to share some of the exercises we recommend for knee arthritis.
Low-impact aerobic activities
Your knees are large, weight-bearing joints that have the ability to endure a great deal of stress. When you walk, the force placed on your knee is 1.5 times your weight. So, if you weigh 180 pounds, it feels like 270 pounds to your knee. The force is even greater when you run or jump.
Having knee arthritis doesn’t mean you should skip aerobic exercise though. You just need to find activities that place less stress on your joints, such as swimming, riding a bike, or doing low-impact aerobics.
In general, adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic (brisk walk, bike ride) exercise a week, or 30 minutes a day five days a week. When starting a new exercise program, go slow. Aim for a 5-10 minute bike ride, gradually working your way up to your goal.
Aerobic exercise helps with weight management, and maintaining a healthy weight reduces the force placed on your knees, easing both stress and pain. Physical activity is also good for your heart, lungs, and bones.
Strengthening the leg muscles that support the knee takes some of the load off, helping redistribute the stress. Good strength-training exercises for knee arthritis include:
- Leg presses
- Body weight squats
- Leg extensions
- Stair climbing
We recommend creating a simple strength-training routine that you can do 2-3 times a week. When working out your muscles, you want to push yourself to the point that it feels hard to do, but not too far that it causes joint pain.
Stretches for knee arthritis
Knee arthritis makes the joint stiff, which can make your pain worse. Stretching keeps the joint flexible and the cartilage healthy. You want to stretch all the muscles that support your knee, including your quadriceps, hamstring, calf muscles, and hip flexors.
When it comes to exercising with knee arthritis, we don’t expect you to go about it all on your own. In fact, it’s always best to get help from the experts to reduce risk of injury. We refer our patients to physical therapists who create exercise plans that match individual needs and goals.
A regular exercise program is good for your knee arthritis, to help reduce pain and improve function. If you’re struggling to manage your knee pain, we can help. Call our office or click the “book online” button to make an appointment with our knee pain expert today.