Arthritis: Three simple exercises to improve knee arthritis pain and strengthen the joints

Arthritis affects around 10 million people in the UK. The most common type is osteoarthritis, followed by rheumatoid arthritis. Both types of arthritis cause pain, stiffness and inflammation of the joints, which can make it hard to complete daily activities. All joints can be affected by arthritis, but the most common joints are those in the hands, feet, hips and shoulders. There is no cure for arthritis, and the condition is lifelong, but symptoms can be improved by keeping active and exercising the affected joints.

If you have arthritis of the knee, you can improve the strength and flexibility of your knees by completing the following four exercises:

Knee squats

Hold on to the back of a chair or work surface and squat down until your knees are over your toes.

Straighten your legs and repeat the exercise 10 times, ensuring you don’t bend your knees beyond a right angle.

Try to squat a little further each time with practice as you improve.

Step ups

Step onto the bottom step of the stairs with the right foot. Bring the left foot up to join, then step down with the right foot, followed by the left foot.

Repeat with each leg until you get short of breath and hold on to the bannister for support if necessary.

With practice, try to increase the number of steps you can do in one minute, as well as increasing the height of the step.

Straight leg raise

Lie on your back with one leg flat on the floor and the other bent at the knee. Hold the flat leg straight and lift the foot upwards slightly.

Hold for a slow count of five, before lowering it back to the ground. Repeat five times with each leg.

Aim to do this exercise twice a day, in the morning and at night. You could do it while lying in bed.

“It’s very important to be active and to keep your joints moving if you have osteoarthritis of the knee,” said Versus Arthritis.

“Try to aim to do at least some physical activity every day. You could start off gently, and try to gradually increase what you do – both in terms of the length of time you exercise and the effort levels you feel able to put in.”

“This gradual increase will help your body get used to doing that little bit more, and should really help improve your health, fitness and symptoms.”


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