Arthritis is a common condition causing pain, stiffness and inflammation to the joints. It affects more than 10 million people in the UK, almost nine million of which suffer from osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but most commonly affects the hands, spine, hips and knees. While there is no direct cure for arthritis, symptoms can be improved by getting regular exercise to strengthen and increase flexibility of the affected joints.
“It’s very important to be active and to keep your joints moving if you have osteoarthritis of the knee,” said Versus Arthritis.
Exercise not only helps keeps the muscles strong, which will reduce pain, stiffness and swelling, but also helps the knees to maintain a normal range of movement.
In addition, keeping active helps you to maintain a healthy weight, which places less pressure on the knees.
“You may worry that being active will make the pain in your knee or the arthritis itself worse. In fact, the right exercise for you will improve your symptoms and strengthen your knee,” said Versus Arthritis.
“Not doing enough physical activity will make your knees more painful and stiff.”
The following three types of exercise can help relieve symptoms of arthritis in the knee:
Swimming improves strength, stamina and flexibility. As the body is supported by water, this reduces strain on the joints.
Water aerobics is a good alternative to swimming, as is hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is a form of exercise in warm water under the supervision of a physiotherapist.
Cycling is a great exercise for strengthening leg muscles, which is important to support and protect the knees.
Start gently and gradually increase the amount of cycling you do. If your knees start to hurt, consider trying a different exercise first.
You could try using a cycling machine at the gym first to get used to it. Brisk walking is a good alternative to cycling.
Yoga and pilates
Yoga and pilates can be done at home, or at classes at the gym, and are great for knee arthritis.
You could also try doing simple exercises at home, such as step-ups on the bottom step of a staircase.
Another simple exercise to do at home could be standing up from a chair and sitting back down repeatedly, without using your arms.
Start with a number you can do easily, and do two or three sets a day. Try to increase the number you do every few days.