Exercise is an important part of a knee arthritis treatment plan, and your doctor will recommend it, whether you have osteoarthritis or an autoimmune, inflammatory form such as rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.
5 Stretches for Knee Arthritis Pain Relief
- Sit on the edge of a chair.
- Straighten one leg forward, with heel on the ground and toes pointed up. Keep the other foot flat on the floor.
- Keeping your back straight, gently lean forward from the hips until you feel a stretch in the back of the outstretched leg.
- Hold 10 seconds and release. Repeat with each leg.
Strengthens the front of your thigh.
- Lie on the floor with your elbows directly under your shoulders to support your upper body.
- Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.
- Place your leg with the affected knee straight in front of you, and bend the other leg so your foot is flat on the floor.
- Tighten the thigh muscle of the straight leg and slowly raise it 6 to 10 inches off the floor.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds and then relax and bring your leg to the floor. Repeat for three sets of 10.
Increases range of motion and strengthens back of thigh and buttocks
- Stand in front of a sturdy chair that won’t move, with a table in front of you for support, if needed.
- Stand with your feet planted on the floor about hip-distance apart.
- Press your buttocks and hips back first, then bend your knees and slowly lower yourself into a seated position. Bending your knee first puts a lot of pressure into the joint,” explains Shroyer. A cue you’re doing it wrong: if you notice your knees going over your toes as you sit back (instead of staying stable over your ankle and heel), or if you feel a sharp, stabbing pain in your knee joint.
- Hold on to the table, if needed, so you don’t fall back into the chair.
- Then tip forward from the hips, push through your feet and up with your legs to a standing position. Repeat.
This exercise also strengthens the quadriceps.
- Sit on the floor with both legs out straight. Stabilize yourself with your hands on either side of your hips, and keep your back straight.
- Slowly bend one knee until it feels stretched, but not until it becomes painful.
- Hold your leg in that position for 5 seconds, then slowly straighten your leg out as far as you can, again holding for 5 seconds.
- Exercise tip: Repeat and switch legs whenever one begins to tire, 10 times.
Standing Calf Stretch
This gentle calf stretch increases flexibility in your leg muscles and knee joints.
- Bring your right foot a few feet in front of your left foot. Bend your right leg, making sure your knee doesn’t go past your toes.
- Keeping your left leg straight, press your left heel toward the ground to stretch the calf of your back leg.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite leg.
- Do 3 times daily.
You can’t cure arthritis or make it go away, but if you strengthen the muscles that support and stabilize the knee, you can take some of the stress load of weight-bearing or walking off a joint that’s worn out and weakened from arthritis, and place it on the stronger muscle.