It is often believed that you should rest your knee when you feel pain; however, for those who experience knee osteoarthritis, exercise should be made a priority. For the 14 million Americans who have knee osteoarthritis, staying active is key to keeping knee pain at bay. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), exercising is one of the best ways to manage knee pain.
But how exactly do knee exercises provide pain relief? Exercise can help relieve pain in the knee by strengthening the muscles around the joints. The stronger the muscles become, the easier it is to ease the stress placed on the knee joint caused by walking or other activities, as the muscles act as shock absorbers. AAOS guidelines specify that a wide range of exercises such as weight-bearing, low-impact, and water-based activities can improve knee pain.
In a 2015 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, women with osteoarthritis who practiced yoga three times a week saw a reduction in knee pain after 12 weeks. A separate study published in Pain Research Management in 2015 found that people who experienced osteoarthritis that walked for 150 minutes a week reported less pain than their sedentary peers.
Here are six exercises you should regularly perform to help stretch and strengthen your knees.
8. Straight Leg Raises
This move can be done either sitting or lying down and fully stretching your legs. Roy Altman, MD, a professor of rheumatology in the department of medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles, regularly teaches his patients how to do straight leg raises, which strengthen the quadriceps.
For this move, you will need to sit back in a firm chair and keep your back straight. Then straighten one leg out in front of you. Count to 10 and slowly lower it to the floor. Repeat the move 10 to 20 times on each leg.