Knee Arthritis Stretches & Exercises

Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. If you have a question, just ask. Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

These knee arthritis stretches and exercises are simple to do and should provide some relief from knee arthritis pain. They are also great for keeping your knees nice and fit.

The main muscles around your knee are your quad muscles, your hamstring muscles, and your calf muscles. So it’s important to stretch and exercise these muscle groups. Let’s start with stretching first.

The first stretch is for your calf muscles. Start off with your legs out in front of you. You can bend up the leg you aren’t using towards you in a comfortable position. Keep the leg you want to stretch out in front of you. Take a stretch strap, dog leash, belt, or towel and wrap it around the ball of your foot. Relax your foot, and pull the strap towards you stretching your calf muscle. You should feel the stretch under your leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and do three of them.

The next stretch is for the hamstrings. You can use a strap, but this one will be without one. Keep your leg that you want to stretch out in front of you. Try to keep your back straight and just bend at your hips. People often want to curl their back so they can touch their toes, but you are not getting the best hamstring stretch when doing this. Keep your leg straight and pull your toes towards you to get an extra stretch. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and repeat three times.

The last stretch is for your quad muscles. This time you will lie on your stomach to stretch. If you can’t lie on your stomach, you can lie on your side, but make sure your thigh stays in a straight line with your body and doesn’t come forward when stretching. Wrap the strap or dog leash around your ankle, and then lie on your stomach. Bring the strap up and around your shoulder so you are comfortable. Then pull the strap towards you bringing the lower leg towards your bottom. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds doing three of them.

Now we will move on to the exercises. The first exercise is going to be a quad set. Put your leg straight out in front of you again. Sometimes you won’t be able to get your knee completely on the ground. You can use a towel roll underneath your knee as a target. Activate your quad muscle by squeezing it and pull your toes toward you at the same time. This will push your knee into the ground. Try to hold this for 5-10 seconds and do 10 of them.

Next you will do a short arc quad (SAQ). For this, you will use a foam roll or a rolled up beach towel. You want something big so you have a good bend in your knee. Prop your leg over the roll with your knee on the roll. Try to keep your knee on the roll the whole time, and then lift your foot in the air until your leg is straight. If you pull your toes towards you at the end, this will help activate all the muscles in the leg. Try not to go fast because then you are only using momentum. Go slow and controlled with your movements. Start of with 10 of these. If you get to 20-25 and it is easy, then you can add ankle weights.

For the next exercise, you will sit in a chair. This one is called a long arc quad (LAQ). This is similar to the SAQ where you want to go slow and controlled, and then bring your leg up straight out in front of you. Slowly come back down. Start of with 10 of these. If you get to 20-25 and it is easy, then you can add ankle weights.

Now you are going to stand up for the last exercises. Use a chair or counter top for balance with these. For the hamstring exercise standing up, you want to keep the top part of your leg as straight as possible in line with your body. It might try to come forward if your muscles are tight, but try to keep it down. Slowly bring your foot back behind you, like you are trying to kick your bottom. Make sure you are going slow and controlled with these. Start of with 10 of these. If you get to 20-25 and it is easy, then you can add ankle weights.

The last one is for calf strengthening. With your feet about shoulder width apart, and holding onto something for balance if you need to, come up on your toes bringing your heels off the ground, and slowly come back down. If that becomes easy, you can do this one foot at a time. Start off with ten and work your way up to 20-25.


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