Knee osteoarthritis (OA), or as it’s sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis, is a chronic condition of the knee joint. It’s caused when the cartilage between the joint breaks down leading to pain, stiffness and swelling.
The first exercises for knee osteoarthritis is a quad set. Straighten out your leg with your knee straight . You are going to try to push your knee down into the ground as hard as you can. To do this, you are activating your quad muscle. If you need a target for your knee, roll up a towel and place it under your knee. While you are squeezing your quad muscle to push the knee down, you can also pull your toes up towards you to activate the calf muscle. Try to told these for 3 – 5 seconds and do 10 of them.
The next exercise is a heel slide lying down. Prop up your good knee and put your surgery knee straight out. Still keeping your heel down when you slide, pull it towards your body as far as you can, and then slide back down. You can do about 10 of these. If you want to get a better stretch, then you can use a strap, dog leash, or belt to get some extra bend in the knee. Place the strap on your shin and make sure it won’t slide off. Then use the strap to pull your knee towards you while you are doing the heel slide.
After that you will do a bridge. Push your bottom up off the ground, but try to do this slowly, and do one segment of your back at a time curling upward. Then slowly go down the same way, one segment at a time.
Now you will do a straight leg raise lying on your back. For all of these you want to try to keep your leg straight by locking out your knee, and pull your toes towards your nose to activate the muscles in your leg. Slowly raise your leg to about the other side where the knee is bent, and then slowly come back down.
Then you will roll onto your stomach. Now you will do a hamstring curl. This time, keep your upper leg or thigh on the ground, and bend at your knee. Bring your foot towards your buttocks as far as you comfortably can, and then slowly come back down. Start off with 10, and work your way up to 20-25. If that becomes easy, then you can add light ankle weights.
Finally on the ground, take a ball or pillow folded in half, and put it between your knees. Squeeze into the ball and hold for 3 seconds, repeat 10 times.
The last exercise is standing up. This is on a tall step, but you should start off with something shorter like 2-3 inches. You can also use a step at home where there is a rail to hold onto. Go very slowly and controlled with the step up and step down. Count to three for both up and down with the movement.