If you have arthritis in the knee you have probably been told you can't do squats & lunges, which are traditional exercises to strengthen the quadriceps (muscles on front of thigh). Yet having strong quadricep muscles can help with the arthritis as stronger muscles provide better support to the joint. So what can you do?
- Sit or lie on a bed with the leg as straight as possible. Point the toes to the ceiling and then back towards you. Try and keep them in this position.
- Tense the front upper leg muscle and attempt to force the back of the knee downward to touch to surface behind it. Tense the muscle for 10 seconds before releasing. If you want you can put a rolled up towel behind the knee.
- Repeat this 10 times and then swap legs.
Straight leg Raise whilst sitting
- Sit in a chair tall with good posture, your thighs should be together and your knees bent with feet apart
- Straighten and raise one leg.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly lower your leg.
- Repeat this at least 10 times with each leg.
Straight Leg Raise whilst lying
- Lie flat on your back either on the bed or the floor with one leg bent and one leg flat
- Raise the leg lying flat about 6 inches from the bed/floor making sure the toes stay pointed towards you. When you do this exercise make sure you are engaging (by tensing) the muscle at the front of the leg and keep the leg straight.
- Hold for 5 seconds and then slowly lower your leg
- Repeat 10-20 times, start at 10 and work up.
- Stand against a wall with your back touching it. Your feet should be shoulder width apart.
- Begin by slowly sliding down the wall, maintaining contact, until you are in seated position. Your hips and knees should both be at 90-degrees, your back flat against the wall, and your heels are on the ground.
- Slowly push with the legs and slide up the wall to return to starting position.
- Start by doing this 3 times a day, to increase the difficulty of this exercise then when you are in the seated position hold for 5 seconds before sliding back up the wall.
Don't do this exercise if it is consistently painful or if you are hearing crunching or cracking in your knees
If you can add some aerobic work to your routine. Both biking (stationary or regular) and aqua aerobics will raise your heart rate - just be careful you don't use to much resistance or go up steep hills (for biking that is!).
Water makes exercise non-weight bearing and low impact and therefore will not cause pain to the knees when exercising. Aqua aerobics is a great choice for those with arthritis and most council leisure centres offer classes without you needing to be a member.
Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.
Image courtesy of Scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net