6 Exercises for Knee Arthritis

By Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

How Does Knee Arthritis Affect Us?

Knee arthritis can be a nuisance.  It can also be life-changing.  The problem with arthritis in the knee is that it tends to worsen with overuse and underuse.  Most of the time, knee arthritis causes pain while squatting, climbing stairs, or rising from a chair.  As arthritis worsens, the knee can become stiff and even deformed.  But, these exercises can help with the pain of knee arthritis.

Top 6 Exercises for Knee Arthritis

  1. Quad Sets: Tighten the front of the thigh with the leg straight and resting on a surface. Hold the contraction for 10 seconds as hard as you can and repeat 10 times (the knee should be completely straight if possible).
    Quad Sets

    Quad Sets

  2. Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back and raise one leg toward the ceiling.  Lock your hands behind your thigh and extend the knee until you feel a stretch behind your knee.  Repeat 3 X for 30 seconds.
    Man on his back performing a 9090 hamstring stretch

    90 90 hamstring stretch

  3. Straight Leg Raise. Perform the quad set, but this time lift the leg about 12 inches off the surface while maintaining the contraction. Repeat 10 times.
    Man doing SLR or straight leg raise on his back

    Man doing SLR on his back

  4. Side leg raise. Lie on your side, keep the top leg straight and lift it about 12 inches. Repeat 10 times.  (be careful not to roll backward)  This exercise works on hip strength which is vital to control the knee with daily activity.
    Man in R sidelying raising the Left leg with a straight leg raise

    Man in R sidelying raising the Left leg with a straight leg raise

  5. Squats. Only do squats if there is no pain.  Gently bend the hips and knees in standing.  Stick your butt back and keep the knees behind your toes.  Do not go too low or cause pain.  Also, do not let the knees come together while squatting.  Repeat 10 times.
    Man doing a squat from the side view

    Man doing a squat from the side view

  6. Cycling. Riding a stationary bike is a great way to get cardiovascular exercise without placing excessive forces on the knee. Start slow and gradually increase resistance and duration.  Make sure that your physician clears you for cardiovascular exercise.
    man riding a stationary bike in the therapy gym

    man riding a stationary bike in the therapy gym

Exercise is vital to control the pain of knee arthritis.  Proper hip and knee muscle balance, control, and flexibility can slow the progression of knee arthritis and decrease pain.

Click to learn about Running with Knee Arthritis.

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If you have knee pain or arthritis, the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute can help! To schedule an appointment, call (904)JOI-2000 schedule online, or click the link below. To schedule a physical therapy appointment at one of our 12 Rehab offices, call (904)858-7045.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician

Book An Appointment with a JOI Knee Physician.

Ehren Allen, PT, COMT

Image of Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT – Content Writer

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