What are the Best Knee Strengthening Exercises for Osteoarthritis?
5 Top Techniques for Relieving Knee Pain
Osteoarthritis is a very painful condition, one without any known cure. It’s especially terrible in your knees, as the swelling and tenderness can prevent you from living the active life you once had. Thankfully, you can find relief from that knee pain by engaging in these 5 knee-strengthening exercises. Because contrary to what you might assume, the best thing for arthritic knees is a regular exercise regimen.
#1 Leg Raises
This is a perfect exercise for strengthening your quadriceps – the large muscle group in the front of your thigh that connects to your knee joint.
- Lie down on your back, either on the floor or the bed, and keep your arms on your side.
- Keep your legs straight. As in, don’t bend your knees.
- Tighten your right leg muscles and slowly lift it.
- Tighten your stomach muscles to keep your lower back flat.
- Keep your right leg lifted for a slow count to 5 and then lower it.
- Repeat for the left leg.
Start with one set of 5 lifts for each leg. Gradually increase to a count of 10 and 10 lifts per leg.
#2 Half Squats
An excellent exercise for your thigh muscles, you shouldn’t feel pain when performing this exercise.
- Stand behind a chair with your feet shoulder-distance apart.
- Grab the chair and bend your knees slowly until you achieve a relative half-sitting position.
- Without leaning for support, your back should be straight, your head facing forward, and your feet flat on the floor.
- Hold the sitting position for 5 seconds before slowly standing back up.
Do this exercise 10 times. With progress, you can hold the sitting position for 10 seconds and do 20 sets.
#3 Calf Stretch
Designed to strengthen the calf muscles that connect to your knees, you will feel the effects of this stretch up and down the muscles of your lower leg.
- Stand behind a chair and grasp the back of it.
- Step forward with your right leg and keep it slightly bent.
- At the same time, keep your left leg completely straight.
- Slowly lean forward on your right leg while keeping your left heel pressed on the floor. Stop when you feel the stretch in your left calf.
- Hold this stance for 20 seconds.
- Return to a normal standing position slowly.
- Switch legs and hold for another 20 seconds.
Do 10 stretches on each leg.
For a deeper stretch, lean farther forward, but never let your knee go past the toes of your forward foot. You can also increase the intensity by doing 20 stretches on each leg.
#4 Leg Lifts with Resistance Band
Combining exercises #1 and #3, this one will be even more effective if you use a rubber resistance band around both your ankles.
- Sit in a straight-backed chair.
- Place your feet flat on the ground and loop the band around both ankles, leaving room for you to lift each leg.
- Lift your right leg until it’s parallel with the floor.
- Hold that pose for 10 seconds.
- Lower your leg to the ground.
- Switch legs and hold for another 10 seconds.
Do 10 leg lifts with each leg.
To deepen the workout, hold each leg for 20 seconds and do the exercise 20 times on each leg.
#5 Hamstring Stretches
A culmination of every exercise we’ve discussed so far, your knees will get maximum benefit from working all the muscles above and below your joint.
- Lie flat on your back, preferably on your bed.
- Loop a resistance band around your right foot.
- Keeping your legs straight, lift your right leg into the air while pulling on the resistance band.
- Holding your leg up for 20 seconds, you should feel gentle stretching in the muscles of your knee, thigh, and calf.
- Lower the leg slowly.
- Repeat with your left leg, holding for another 20 seconds.
Do 10 leg lifts with each leg.
Take the exercise to the next level by holding each leg up for 30 seconds and doing 20 lift with each leg.
We recommend either doing this full set of knee strengthening exercises every other day or doing half one day and half the next. Before you attempt any of these exercises, you should consult with your primary care physician and/or your specialist to determine what’s right for your specific condition.
Joints with osteoarthritis respond well to consistent movement, so doing these knee strengthening exercises on a regular basis is crucial for the long-term health of your knees.