In the US alone, tens of millions of people have arthritis in their knees. Some go on to have knee replacement surgery. Can people with arthritis in the knee exercise safely, even when their knees hurt?
Turns out, there are plenty of options for exercising with knee pain. And some exercises will even help the person reduce the pain they feel. Don’t forget to stretch and warm up before trying any of these forms of exercising.
The first tip is to head to the pool. Water takes all the pressure of gravity off the joints, so a person with knee pain can experience much greater range of motion in water than on land. If swimming laps isn’t for you, look for a water aerobics class at your local health club or community pool. With summer coming, you might even find one that meets in the regular outdoor pool.
Low-impact walking can be done even by people with stiff joints. Just go slowly until your knee joints loosen up. A good goal is to walk 20 minutes a day. It’s something to shoot for, even if you can only walk a few minutes at a time. Your stamina will gradually increase if you take it slow.
Walking on the street isn’t ideal because concrete doesn’t have any give. Try to walk on grass or dirt paths. Even better is walking on a treadmill, which offers both shock absorption and a smooth surface.
If you are prepared to invest, get a recumbent stationary bike, which allows you to get an aerobic workout without putting stress on your knees. Elliptical machines are also worth trying, either at a gym or at home.
If you strengthen the muscles around your knees, you could get some natural pain relief. Try walking backwards, which will strengthen your hamstrings and doing straight leg raises, which will strengthen your quads.
Tai Chi, a gentle form of Chinese movement, is an excellent form of exercise for those with arthritis. There are tons of resources available online. Check out this video for starters.
Finally, stay away from high impact sports or exercises that involve jumping. Games such as basketball, football and tennis require participants to pivot, jump and suddenly stop moving. It’s also important to stay away from leg presses, lunges and deep squats, which put extra pressure on the knees. In general, avoid anything that requires bending your knee more than 90 degrees.