You don't even need a gym or personal trainer!
Knee osteoarthritis is a condition that affects millions of Americans every day. This is a degenerative condition of the cartilage that presents itself in joints. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, a limited range of motion, and a decrease in overall functionality. If worsened, this condition can frequently lead to joint surgery down the road.
One of the biggest issues with knee OA is the poor understanding around the condition and exercise. Many health professionals encourage patients to cease physical activity, but we know now that this mindset is often harmful. While it’s key to be smart with exercise choices for one’s needs, the proper dose of movement will often improve the health of cartilage. Additionally, exercise will enhance the robust nature of surrounding joints/muscles.
We’ve had it backwards. Exercise is exactly what you need for your knee arthritis.
Your personal knee arthritis prevention program.
It should be mentioned that every single case of knee OA will be different. If you’ve had an injury history around the knees or are unsure what exercises you’re ready for, please reach out to your health professional. Most of the exercises below will be tailored more towards prevention for those who are healthy, and healing for those with a minor case. Those with severe cases may also benefit from exercise, but it will be on a case-by-case basis judged by a health professional. Oftentimes, the modification of volume/intensity of movements is encouraged for those worse off.
If you are ready to dive in, try this program 2–3 times per week. Take your time with each movement and focus on only accessing your pain-free range of motion. To assist in making this as comfortable as possible, take deep breaths!
1) Box / Chair Squat
Application: 2 x 10 reps
Cues: Keeping your heels on the floor, sit back into a chair before extending back up again. Focus on hinging at the hips and keeping the heels tracking over the toes. If you want an even greater challenge, simply tap your butt on the box/chair but keep the load through your legs. Make sure to squeeze your buttcheeks at the top to extend all the way up!
Progression: Transition to full squats or single-leg chair squats.
2) Lateral Step-Up
Application: 2 x 10–15 reps / side
Cues: Find a step or curb and stand parallel to it. Next, plant one leg on the surface and extend up fully. To complete a rep, descend slowly and plant your opposite foot on the floor before extending back up. Similar to the squat, if you want to elevate the intensity of this exercise, simply tap the opposite foot on the floor but keep the load through your planted leg.
Progression: Increase the height of each step. Add weight with dumbells.
3) Clock Walks
Application: 15–20 reps / side
Cues: Start by standing on one foot. Next, move your other leg to different positions on an invisible clock. All the while, keep your entire weight through the planted foot to challenge active stability. For the best results, do this in bare feet and keep the direction of movement completely random!
Progression: Increase reps or range of motion.
Knee osteoarthritis affects millions of Americans every day and is nothing to mess with. Unfortunately, many people avoid physical activity after receiving a diagnosis out of fear. The evidence now shows that a safe, proper dose of movement is exactly what your cartilage and overall joints need to maintain functional strength. Whether you have knee OA or not, this quick and easy home program can make a huge impact on your knee health for years to come.
Why not start today?
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