Ah yes, the knee. I have met very few people who haven’t experienced some level of knee pain at some point. When comparing the knee to hip and ankle, it’s a weak leak in the chain. Often, osteoarthritis in the knee occurs before osteoarthritis in the hip. We need strong knees for going up and down stairs, getting up and down from a chair or sofa, and for walking.
If you already have knee arthritis, don’t worry just yet! Having osteoarthritis doesn’t automatically mean you need a joint replacement. Here are a few exercises to get you going on a strengthening program. However, please note that these are educational suggestions. It is best if you call us today to schedule an appointment with a skilled physical therapist.
Terminal knee extension. While standing, bend your knee slightly, then straighten it again with a strong quadriceps contraction. Focus on squeezing your thigh muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Release, and then squeeze again. Repeat up to 15 times.
Bridges. I give this exercise for the hip too, but if you move your feet further away from your hips, you can target your hamstrings. Dig your heels into the floor and lift your hips up to the ceiling. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly lower down. Repeat up to 15 times. This may cause a hamstring cramp; this is common. Shake it out for a few seconds before trying again.
Curtsey lunges. I find these to be less irritating on the knee joint compared to a regular lunge. Step forward with one leg. Bring the opposite leg behind you into a curtsey position, but keep your static knee and toe facing forward. Bend both knees down about half-way, then stand up again. Repeat 10 to 12 on one side, and then switch sides. If you have pain with this, make it a smaller range of motion. A little pain is okay; severe pain is not. If this hurts too much, stop.
Walk. This is easy. Go for a walk; at least 30 minutes at a time. Motion is lotion.
Our main goal with these is to build muscle strength in both the hips and thigh, so they can offload the forces being placed on the knee joint. They may not take your pain away completely, but they will keep you functional and moving.
As we’ve said before, give us a call if you have trouble with arthritis and want to keep yourself strong!
By Laura Vroman