Do Knee Exercises

Strengthen Knees

When arthritis makes your knees hurt, you don't want to exercise. But moving, strengthening, and stretching your knees, legs, and hips can help ease knee pain. Do the exercises as advised and Note them in your Journal so you can see progress. 

Strengthening exercises should not hurt. Pain, especially in the knee joint, can be damaging and may cause muscles to shut down loosing benefit of exercise. Feeling a “mild burn” from lactic acid build-up in muscles worked is OK. Burn is an indicator of proper technique. However, too much may lead to secondary issues especially when just starting to strength train.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Fatigue, symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, symptoms worse in evening, knee pain

Triggers:

Treatments:

Categories: Exercise

Duration

30

Leg Curls

1. Lie on a mat on your stomach.

2. Bending one leg at the knee, gently move your ankle towards your buttocks. Be sure to keep your hips on the mat.

3. Lower your leg back down.

4. Repeat 12 times with each leg. Work up to doing 2 to 3 sets.

Prompt: Work your knees.

CTA: New kind of knee bend.  

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight, OA, RA

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Leg Raises

1. Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor.

2. Slowly straighten one leg out in front of you.

3. Lower your leg.

4. Repeat 12 times on each leg. Work up to doing 2 or 3 sets of this exercise.

If this hurts, limit how far you lift your foot off the floor, or find a comfortable position and hold for 30 seconds.

Prompt: Lift your knees.

CTA: Exercise to strengthen knees.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight,

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Hip Extension

1. Stand facing a wall. Place your hands against it for support.

2. Slowly lift one straight leg backward, away from the wall while keeping your back straight.

3. Lower your leg and repeat 12 times on each leg. Work up to doing 2 or 3 sets of 12 on each side.

You can also do this in a pool, holding on to the side.

If your hips are very tight, talk with your doctor or physical therapist before doing this exercise.

Prompt: Strengthen your hip muscles.

CTA: Lift your leg backward.  

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening, hip pain

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight,

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Side Leg Raise

1. Stand facing a wall and place your hands against it for support.

2. Gently raise your leg out to the side.

3. Repeat 12 times on each leg. Work up to doing 2 or 3 sets of 12 on each side.

You can also do this exercise in a pool, holding on to the edge for support.

Prompt: Work your hips.

CTA: Increase range of motion.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening, hip pain

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight, OA, RA

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Step-ups

1. Find a stable, short step and stand in front of it with both feet on the ground.

2. Step up with your left foot and then your right foot. Use a railing or wall for balance if you need to.

3. Then step backwards, placing your right foot down first, then left.

4. Repeat 10 times. Rest, then repeat another 10 times, starting with right leg first.

Prompt: Stairs difficult?

CTA: Exercise to strengthen legs.  

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening, hip pain

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight,

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

One-Leg Balance

1. Stand at your kitchen counter. With hands on the counter, shift your body weight to one leg without locking your knee.

2. Slowly raise the other foot off the ground, and balance on your standing leg.

3. Let go of the counter and hold for 20 seconds, or as long as you can.

4. Do 2 times, then switch legs.

Prompt: Off balance?

CTA: Try this to improve it.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Heel Raise

1. Stand at your kitchen counter with both feet flat on the ground. Hold onto the counter.

2. Gently lift your heels off the ground and stand on the balls and toes of both feet.

3. Hold for 5 seconds.

4. Slowly lower your heels to ground. Repeat 10 times.

5. Build up to doing another set of 10.

If this exercise is too hard, try it sitting in a chair instead or try it in a pool using the side of the pool for support.

Prompt: Strengthen your calves.

CTA: Exercise to strengthen lower legs

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Pillow Squeeze

1. Lie on your back, with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place a pillow between your knees.

2. Gently squeeze your knees together, holding the pillow tightly between them.

3. Hold this position for 5 seconds.

4. Relax and then repeat 10 times. Work up to doing another set of 10.

If this exercise is too hard, try it while seated instead.

Prompt: Squeeze tight.

CTA: Firm the insides of your legs.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight,

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest,  acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Seated Hip March

1. Sit in a chair. Move your left foot back a bit, but keep your toes on the floor.

2. Lift your right foot off the floor, with your knee bent. Hold this position for 5 seconds.

3. Slowly lower your foot. Repeat 10 times on each side.

4. Gradually build up to doing 2 sets on each side.

If this is too hard, try using your hands to lift your leg.

Prompt: Get strong hips.

CTA: Try the seated hip march.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening, hip pain

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight,

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Straight Leg Raise

1. Lie on your back and prop yourself up on your elbows.

2. Bend your left knee, with your foot on floor. Your right leg should stay straight, with toes pointed up.

3. Tighten the thigh muscles of your right leg. Then use your thigh muscles -- not your back -- to raise your leg about 5-7 inches from the ground. Hold for 5 seconds.

4. Keep your thigh tight while you slowly lower your leg to ground.

5. Repeat 10 times on both legs.

Prompt: Build leg strength.

CTA: Lift and strengthen your legs.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight.

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Quad Sets

This simple exercise may be perfect if you aren't able to do more advanced quadriceps strengthening exercises.

1. Lie on the floor, with both legs on the ground.

2. Tighten both thigh muscles and hold for 5 seconds.

3. Relax.

4. Repeat 10 times.

5. Work up to doing two sets of 10.

Prompt: Weak quads?

CTA: Tone your quads.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight,

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest,  acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Calf Stretch

1. Using your kitchen counter for balance, bend your right knee, keeping your right foot on the floor.

2. Step back with your left leg and slowly straighten your knee behind you.

3. Press your left heel toward the floor. You should feel the stretch in your left calf.

4. Hold for 10 seconds.

5. Do 3 times, then switch legs.

If you want more of a stretch, lean forward and bend the right knee a bit deeper.

Prompt: Stretch calves.

CTA: Try this calf stretch.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Hamstring Stretch

1. Lie on the floor and loop a belt, yoga strap, towel, or pillowcase around your right foot, holding both ends in your hands.

2. Use the strap to slowly pull your leg up off the ground as high as you comfortably can.

3. Hold for 10 seconds.

4. Repeat 3 times on both legs.

You can find inexpensive yoga straps at any sports store.

Prompt: Improve flexibility.

CTA: Stretch your hamstrings.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Inner Thigh Muscle Stretch

1. Sit on a mat with the soles of your feet pressed together.

2. Hold your ankles and gently pull your feet toward you. Pull only as far as you can.

3. Use your elbows to gently press your knees toward the floor. You should feel this stretch in your inner thighs.

4. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat 3 times.

Prompt: Tight thighs?

CTA: Stretch your inner thighs.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight,

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

Hip Rotation

1. Sit or lie with your back on the floor, legs straight, and your feet slightly apart.

2. Keeping legs straight, rotate your knees toward each other until your toes touch.

3. Hold for 10 seconds.

4. Repeat 3 times.

5. Turn the legs and knees out, and hold for 10 seconds.

Prompt: Rotate your hips.

CTA: Try this to stretch your hip muscles.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling, knee pain, symptoms worse in evening, hip pain

Triggers: difficulty sitting, sitting too long, moving joint, wearing high heels, obesity, overweight

Treatments: Brace, orthotics, exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, rest, acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tempra, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, naproxen, range-of-motion exercises, resistance training, strength training

Categories: Exercise

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Ross Brakeville, DPT on January 27, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Arthritis Foundation: "Aquatic Exercise and Tai Chi Effective Therapy for Osteoarthritis," "OA Basics. Who is at Risk?" "Fitness Exercises and Videos/Stretching," "All About Osteoarthritis – Exercise," "Rheumatoid Arthritis Resources."

Felson, D. Annals of Internal Medicine, 1992.

The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: "Yoga for People With Arthritis."

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "What are Knee Problems?"  "Living with Arthritis," "Rheumatoid Arthritis."

National Institutes of Health: "X-Plain Rheumatoid Arthritis."

American College of Rheumatology: "Rheumatoid Arthritis."

American Physical Therapy Association.

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