• Knee and Hip Exercises for Osteoarthritis

    If you have osteoarthritis(OA) in your hips or knees, exercising may be the last thing you feel like doing. Symptoms like pain and stiffness in your joints can make it tough to work out.But moving is important for hip and knee OA. It causes your joints to compress and release, bringing blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen into the cartilage. Physical activity can also help you feel better. “Along with boosting your overall health, exercise can improve your OA symptoms” like pain, stiffness, fatigue, and even depression, says Leigh F. Callahan, PhD, associate director of the University of North Carolina Thurston Arthritis Research Center. One study found that people with knee OA who worked out regularly lowered their pain by 12% compared to those who didn’t.

    Ready to lace up your sneakers? No single workout is best. But some moves are better for hip and knee OA. Experts recommend doing a mix of the following three exercises. But first, remember to check in with your doctor before you start any new physical activity.

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  • l. Aerobic exercise

    This is the type that strengthens your heart and helps your lungs work better. “It also burns calories, which can help you lose or maintain a healthy weight,” Callahan says. That’s important, because extra pounds add stress onto your hip and knee joints.

    If you’re new to exercise, start with low-impact activities. They’re gentle on the joints. Good options for hip and knee OA include:

    • Walking
    • Swimming
    • Biking
    • Elliptical training
    • Cross-country skiing

    To ease the pain and lower your odds of an injury, don’t try to do too much at once. “Start with just 10 minutes,” says Arina Garg, MD, a rheumatology fellow at The Center for Excellence for Arthritis and Rheumatology at the Louisiana University Health Sciences Center. “Every few days, increase that time by 5 to 10 minutes.” Your goal is to work up to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 5 days a week

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  • ll. Flexibility (range-of-motion) exercises

    The first step is flexibility exercise to improve joint mobility, reduce stiffness, and help prevent tightening of the tissues around the joint.

    Flexibility exercises gently stretch and lengthen the muscles and move the joints through a range of motion that's comfortable — you should not feel pain — but produces a sensation of resistance. You should perform these exercises (see examples) when you are feeling the least pain and stiffness — for example, after a warm shower or at the end of the day. If you take a pain reliever, do your stretching when the drug is having its strongest effect. You can start with just one or two exercises a day, three times a week, but try to work up to performing several, at least once a day.

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  • Inner leg stretch

    Sit with your knees bent and the soles of your feet together. Draw your heels close to your body. Holding the shins or ankles with your hands, slowly bend your upper body forward and gently press your knees down with your elbows. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

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  • Hip and lower back stretch

    Lie flat on your back with legs extended. Keep your neck on the floor but look down toward your chest. Bend both knees and clasp them with your hands, pulling your knees toward your shoulders as far as they will comfortably go. Breathe in deeply and exhale, bringing the knees closer as you breathe out. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds while breathing normally.

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  • Double hip rotation

    Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your shoulders on the floor, gently lower your knees to one side and turn your head to the opposite side. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Bring your knees back to the centre and repeat on the other side.

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  • lll. Strength (resistance) training

    By strengthening muscles, you protect and support affected joints and improve overall function. Inactivity due to osteoarthritis, as well as aging in general, can reduce muscle mass, contributing to frailty and weakness.

    Strength training involves contracting the muscles against resistance. The resistance can be from your own body or from hand or ankle weights or resistance bands. Your clinician will recommend specific exercises based on the condition of your joints and your level of pain. Muscles should not be exercised to the point of fatigue. Start with four to six repetitions rather than the eight to 12 normally associated with resistance training. If you have joint pain that lasts more than an hour after you exercise, you're probably overdoing it. You should not do strength training more than two days per week.

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  • Chair stand

    Rest a chair against a wall. Sit at the front of the chair, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Lean back in a half-reclining position with your arms crossed and your hands on your shoulders. Keeping your head, neck, and back straight, bring your upper body forward, and then stand up slowly. Pause. Sit back down slowly and return to your original position. Repeat four to six times; build up gradually to eight to 12 repetitions.

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  • Hip extension

    Holding onto the back of a chair for balance, bend your trunk forward and slowly raise your right leg straight behind you. Lift it as high as you can without bending your knee or pitching forward. Pause. Slowly lower the leg, returning to the starting position. Do four to six repetitions. Repeat with the left leg. Build up gradually to eight to 12 repetitions. For added resistance, wear an ankle weight on the leg you are lifting.

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  • Bridge

    Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your palms flat on the floor next to your hips. Keep your back straight as you lift your buttocks as high as you can off the mat, using your hands for balance only. Pause. Lower your buttocks not quite to the floor, then lift again. Repeat four to six times; gradually build up to eight to 12 repetitions.

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    YOGA

    Yoga is known to ease arthritis pain. It also improves osteoarthritis associated symptoms. Yoga routine should be very gentle. It is advised to consult a doctor before starting any joint specific exercise.

    Benefits of yoga for Osteoarthritis

    Yoga is not only a fitness activity but it also relieves mild-moderate OA symptoms. Few studies have concluded the efficacy of yoga in proving relief from joint tenderness, pain and movement. If you have arthritis, you should avoid difficult yoga poses including Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga, and power yoga.

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  • Mountain Pose

    1. Simply stand with the sides of your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart
    2. Lift and spread your toes, and place them back down on the floor.
    3. Rock back and forth or side to side to get the right position. The goal is to have your weight balanced evenly on each foot. Stand tall with your back straight. Place your arms by your sides and palms facing outward.
    4. Hold this pose for 1 minute and remember to breathe deeply.
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  • Warrior II

    1. From a standing position, step your feet about 4 feet apart.
    2. Lift your arms to the front and back (not to the sides) until they are parallel with the floor, keeping your palms down.
    3. Keep your right foot straight and turn your left foot 90 degrees to the left, aligning your heels.
    4. Exhale and bend your left knee over your left ankle. Your shin should be perpendicular to the floor.
    5. Stretch your arms out straight, keeping them parallel to the floor.
    6. Turn your head left and look over your outstretched fingers.
    7. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute, then reverse your feet and repeat on the left side.
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  • Bound Angle

    1. Begin seated on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
    2. Bend your knees and pull your heels in toward your pelvis.
    3. Drop your knees to the sides, pressing the bottom of your feet together.
    4. Keep the outer edges of your feet on the floor to maintain the position.

     

    Pro tip: The goal of this Iyengar stretch is to bring your heels close to your pelvis without straining or becoming uncomfortable. Keep the outer edges of your feet on the floor to maintain the position. Don’t force your knees downward, stay relaxed. You can hold this pose for up to 5 minutes.

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  • Staff Pose

    Like Mountain Pose, this is a simple pose, but technique is important for best results.

    1. Sit on the floor with your legs together, and stretch them out in front of you (it can help to sit on a blanket to lift your pelvis).
    2. Check that you have proper alignment by sitting against a wall. Your shoulder blades should touch the wall, but your lower back and back of your head should not.
    3. Firm your thighs, pressing them down while rotating them toward each other.
    4. Flex your ankles while using your heels to press out.
    5. Hold the position for at least 1 minute.
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