The most common complain among elderly and those who lift heavy weights is tightness or stiffness of the knee. It is one of the classic symptoms associated with arthritis.

What is Knee stiffness?

Knee stiffness is basically the increased resistance developed in movement by the muscles and other soft tissues of the joint. It can happen in one or both knees. People with knee stiffness find it difficult to bend their knee.

Why does the Knee get stiff or tight?

It could occur due to poor flexibility of muscles, osteoarthritis (OA), injury to ligament, injury to cartilage, infection. In RA, the internal swelling causes knee stiffness and pain. Bone spurs and friction between bones is the reason for stiffness in OA patients. Visible swelling may or may not be there.

When does stiffness occur?

Stiffness usually develops after sitting or prolonged rest. Sedentary lifestyle such as lack of physical exercise or a desk-job may contribute to knee stiffness. It is also a very common complaint seen few days after heavy weight-lifting in the gym. It commonly loosens up in less than 30 minutes, and this is known as gelling. This short duration of stiffness is seen in the morning or is followed by periods of inactivity. But with disease progression stiffness may worsen over time including during rest or even at night.

Set of male and females weight lifters. Group of athletes lifting barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells. Sport concept. Vector illustration can be used for topics like weightlifting, gym, training

What can you do about stiff achy knees?

Once the level of stiffness is established an individual naturally looks for exercises or painkillers for managing it.

clock people doing exercise active break vector illustration

If you are at office or on your desk

  • Get up and stretch once every single hour
  • Adjust your chair
  • Stretch your legs while sitting
  • Try some straight leg lifts
  • Walk and talk

For severe cases, fitness walking, aerobic exercise, and strength training have all been reported to result in functional improvement of the knee. A 6 min walk distance has showed great improvement in knee stiffness.