How Do I Strengthen My Arthritic Knees?

Nov 2, 2018 | Arthritis

Arthritis hurts. No matter which one of the 100 different diagnoses you might have, it attacks your major joints, causing significant pain during what used to be everyday activities. But few things feel more debilitating than arthritic knees. Not only does it hurt to move, but you also feel frustrated by your inability to move.

So, what can you do to strengthen your arthritic knees in a way that decreases your pain and increases your mobility? Exercise. Yes, the best way to help knees that suffer from arthritis pain is to engage in regular movement. We’re not talking about intense CrossFit regimens or training for an Ironman Triathlon. These are 7 regular exercises that get your knees moving.

#1 Calf Stretches

The perfect exercise for increasing the flexibility of your lower leg and ankle, which improves your balance when walking.

  • Face the wall.
  • Stand with the leg you want stretched behind you, placing the other leg in front.
  • Put your hands on the wall for support.
  • Keep both feet flat on the ground.
  • Lean forward and slowly bend the front knee.
  • Once you feel stretching in the calf, hold that pose for 30 seconds

Perform 3 sets once a day.

#2 Hamstring Stretches

There are two versions of this exercise: one with an elastic resistance band and one without.

  • Lie on your back.
  • With the strap:
  • Keep both legs straight.
  • Place the band around the toe of your shoe for the leg you want to stretch.
  • Hold one end of the band in each hand.
  • Without the strap:
  • Keep the leg to be stretched straight.
  • Bend the other leg to a 90-degree angle.
  • Lift your straight leg to the height of the bent leg.
  • Interlace your fingers behind the knee of the straight leg and gently pull to your chest
  • Lift your leg until you feel stretching behind your knee.
  • Hold that post for 30 seconds.

Perform 3 sets daily.

#3 Quadriceps Stretches

This exercise strengthens your quadricep, the muscle in the front of your thigh, as it’s crucial for providing balance to your knee.

  • Lie on your back
  • Keep the leg to be stretched straight.
  • Bend the other leg to a 90-degree angle.
  • Place a tightly rolled towel under the knee of the straight leg.
  • Tighten your quadricep, push the back of your knee into the towel, and hold that for 5 seconds.
  • Slowly release the pressure and wait 5 seconds between each effort.

Perform 3 sets of 10 once a day.

#4 Seated Knee Extension

Great for your knee and ankle, you will need a resistance band for this exercise.

  • Sit in a chair.
  • Tie the band around leg of the chair that corresponds to the leg you want to exercise.
  • Loop the band around the ankle of the leg you want to exercise.
  • Straighten your leg slowly until it’s 2/3 straight.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Lower slowly.

Perform 20 sets per leg once a day.

#5 Standing Leg Raises

This is another great exercise that requires a resistance band.

  • Stand beside a chair for balance, keeping the leg your lifting on the outside.
  • Tie the band to the chair leg.
  • Loop the band around the leg you will lift.
  • Keep your shoulders and head facing forward.
  • Lift your leg sideways, away from your body, until the band goes tight.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Lower slowly.

Perform 20 sets per leg once a day.

#6 Stair Stepping

As anyone with arthritis will tell you, going up and down stairs is more painful than walking down a sidewalk. This exercise practices that motion while also strengthening your ankles and knees.

  • Stand on the ground at the bottom of the stairs.
  • Grip the handrail.
  • Step up with the leg you want to strengthen.
  • Hold yourself up for 3 seconds. You can make this longer as your knee gets stronger.
  • Step up completely.
  • Step down slowly and turn around to begin again.

Make 20 steps per leg once a day.

#7 Chair Squats

This exercise helps your arthritic knees and overall balance.

  • Stand behind a chair, gripping the back with both hands.
  • Slowly kneel until you’re in a half-sitting position.
  • Keep your back as straight as possible without leaning forward.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Slowly stand back up.

Perform 20 sets once a day.

Experts also recommend incorporating a regimen of walking and/or swimming, as long as you don’t push your body harder than it needs to go. The point of these exercises is to strengthen your arthritic knees so you feel better and stave off the worst effects of your diagnosis.

Just be sure that you consult directly with your physician before you begin any exercises of this nature.

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