Exercise and Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Recommendations to Get You Moving

Did you know that every extra pound of body weight adds 4 pounds of stress to your joints?  Achieving and maintaining your optimal weight by combining a healthy diet with an exercise program can help reduce the stress to your joints. 

Exercise is wonderful for joint health and overall health, but not all exercises are right for those with osteoarthritis of the knee.  If you're just starting a new gym routine or workout regimen, it's not uncommon to have some joint pain; however, if the pain lasts longer than 2 weeks, you should consult a physician.

I’ve compiled a short list of exercise recommendations here to get you moving!

Types of Exercises

In general, patients with osteoarthritis of the knee should employ lower-impact, aerobic type activities such as walking, cycling, yoga, elliptical training, or water-based exercises.  Of all the options, swimming and water aerobics are some of the best activities.

Walking is also good, but it may be too difficult for individuals with advanced osteoarthritis. Another thing to keep in mind is that walking or running on concrete or asphalt is a bad idea when you suffer from knee pain because these surfaces have no shock absorption.

Avoid high-impact activities. Basketball, tennis, racquetball, squash, soccer, and football are hard on the knees because they involve sudden starts, stops, and turns, as well as jumping. Zumba is a good cardio workout but may be high impact for knees.

Remember to Stretch

Stretching is often neglected in our workouts, but it’s really important. Here are 2 quick and easy stretches:

  1. Hamstring Stretch: place an extended leg on a slightly elevated surface (like a curb) and reach your opposite arm to your knee or ankle. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  2. Quadriceps Stretch: standing straight, bend your knee and grab the top of your foot behind you; gently pull your heel towards your buttocks. Keep your chest up the whole time. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Warm Up

The purpose of warming up is to get blood flowing to your muscles and to raise your body temperature. Warmed up muscles will behave more elastically and are less likely to be injured or strained. A warm-up can be simply 1-2 minutes of calisthenics like jumping jacks, running in place, or a brief ride on a stationary bike.

Practice Good Nutrition

And don’t forget to follow your exercise routine with a good diet, rich in antioxidants like freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juices (kale, spinach, ginger, lime, blueberries). Remember: you need a combination of good nutrition along withexercise to achieve your goals.

Enjoy your workout!