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Easy On The Knees
By: Christine Bieber, CPT
A leading cause of disability in America is knee osteoarthritis.. Many people suffering from knee pain will start an exercise program but quit shortly after, due to the increase in pain. However, it is crucial to strengthen the muscles around your patella under the supervision of a physical therapist in order to improve range of motion, and daily functions. In several recent studies, there has been evidence supporting the claim that low-impact, aerobic exercises, strength training, and aqua fitness showed significant improvement in knee joint pain. These lower impact exercises were proven to improve knee pain from osteoarthritis more so than high impact exercises despite initial discomfort. Overall, exercise consistency is key for improving knee mobility and osteoarthritic pain.
According to Center of Disease Control, by the age of 85, half of adults will develop osteoarthritis knee pain. More than half of these statistics included men and women who are considered obese. Every pound you gain adds four pounds of pressure to your knees. With this being said, even losing 10 pounds would make a significant improvement on decreasing knee pain. Unfortunately, for many, it is less work and more time -efficient to have a knee replacement than to lose 10 pounds. However, it is still important to increase your knee strength and range of motion before surgery in order to have the best outcome during recovery.
For people with knee pain, the words squats, sprints, and lunges can sound like a nightmare. Fortunately, there are several exercises that can still be performed that will strengthen the muscles around your knee without causing pain or pressure to the area.
Three beneficial exercises to strengthen your patella are box squats, lying hamstring curls, and reverse lunges.
When performing box squats, adding a bench to your squat forces the body to go through the proper range of motion when hinging at the hip. Bend the hips back as you sit, and push up through the heels as you stand. Do not place too much body weight on the balls of your feet, or allow your knees to extend past your toes.
Lying Hamstring Curls:
When performing lying down hamstring curls, you will need gliders, paper plates, or two towels. Hamstring curls isolate and strengthen the glutes and hamstrings while also decreasing pressure on the knees while in a bridge position. Your legs should be parallel throughout the entire exercise. For assistance, try placing a resistance band above the knee joint to prevent the legs from winging out or coming inward.
Reverse lunges help your hamstrings and knees by keeping your front foot in a fixed position, which helps with stability and knee alignment. Perform 12-15 repetitions on each side for all three exercises mentioned to improve knee strength. Remember that low impact exercise consistency is key for reducing knee pain.