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Posted on: September 30, 2021
According to the American Physical Therapy Association, approximately 14 million people in the United States have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA). Over time, the cartilage on the bones that form our knees begins to wear away, causing inflammation which we refer to as osteoarthritis. As the disease progresses, it can affect surrounding muscle, tendon, and ligaments, therefore, contributing to significant pain and dysfunction. 1
The diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis is based on two primary findings to include radiographic evidence of changes in bone health and an individual’s symptoms. This condition can affect both men and women. OA is more prevalent in men under the age of 45 but after that, it’s more common in women. 2.
“For people with hip and knee osteoarthritis, many high-quality research studies show that exercise is very helpful in decreasing pain and improving joint motion. If you have hip and knee OA, you might not be getting enough physical activity and exercise throughout the day to stay healthy,” says the National Institute of Aging.3
This research stands to support that physical therapy may be the missing key to joint preservation.
Although exercise should be tailored to your needs, five simple yet effective exercises are listed below to assist in improving knee strength, range of motion, and stability. Also, if exercise on land is too painful, aquatic therapy may be an option as well.
Gently loop a strap around your ankle and lie on your back. With your knees comfortably bent, gently pull on the strap to slide your target heel toward your buttock enough that you feel a stretch in the front of your knee. Return to your original position and repeat. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 repetitions on each leg.
While lying on your back or sitting upright with your knees straight, tighten your top thigh muscle to press the back of your knee downward. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 15 times.
While lying on your back with one knee bent, perform a quad set and raise up your target leg with a straight knee. Tip: Only raise your leg as high as the bent knee. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10-15 times on each leg.
While lying on your back with one knee bent, raise up your target leg and use your hands to hold the back of your knee. Pull the leg upwards toward your face until a stretch is felt behind the leg. Hold for 20-30 seconds, relax, and repeat two more times on each leg.
While standing on a step and holding onto a railing, lower your heel down off the edge of the step until a gentle stretch is felt in your calf. Focus on keeping your knee straight and hold for 20-30 seconds, relax, and repeat two more times on each leg.
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