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Exercises with Knee Pain


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I was just diagnosed with severe arthritis in my knees and was told that eventually both will have to be replaced. My doctor suggested strengthening my legs to take some pressure off my knees so I'm wondering if anyone has any knee friendly leg exercises. Thank you in advance. 

Edited by Bo the Golfer
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@Bo the Golfer, I'm not sure how you can strengthen your legs without using your knees to some extent.  You pretty much have to activate your knees to use your legs.  That said, I think doing deadlifts with a hex bar would be good for you.  Using the hex bar allows you to displace the weight more in your feet and not so much in your lower back.  It's sort of like the squat but without the weight being on top of your back, which can create extra knee stress.  Use your glutes and push with your feet, and I think you can get a good workout with them.  If you don't have access to a hex bar, you could use dumbbells or kettlebells as well.  You'll have to bend your knees, but I feel like more pressure is in your feet (which is good for those of us with back and knee issues).

Edited by ncates00
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2 minutes ago, ncates00 said:

@Bo the Golfer, I'm not sure how you can strengthen your legs without using your knees to some extent.  You pretty much have to activate your knees to use your legs.  That said, I think doing deadlifts with a hex bar would be good for you.  Using the hex bar allows you to displace the weight more in your feet and not so much in your lower back.  It's sort of like the squat but without the weight being on top of your back, which can create extra knee stress.  Use your glutes and push with your feet, and I think you can get a good workout with them.  If you don't have access to a hex bar, you could use dumbbells or kettlebells as well.  You'll have to bend your knees, but I feel like more pressure is in your feet (which is good for those of us with back and knee issues).

Thanks for the reply. I don't think our gym here has a hex bar but I can try with dumbbells or kettlebells for sure. 

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16 hours ago, Bo the Golfer said:

I was just diagnosed with severe arthritis in my knees and was told that eventually both will have to be replaced. My doctor suggested strengthening my legs to take some pressure off my knees so I'm wondering if anyone has any knee friendly leg exercises. Thank you in advance. 

 

I’ve had knee surgery and have OA ((chondromalacia) in both knee caps. I’ve also had PT many times for my knees. I would recommend going to a PT to learn the exercises with proper form. They most likely will recommend exercises that strengthen the muscle around the knee without causing pain or more damage. Check with your doctor or PT to see if these exercises are okay for you first.

Examples:

  1. Straight leg lifts with you sitting or lying on the floor. Starting with no weight, then increase weight to up to 5 pounds with ankle weights. One leg at a time with the other knee bent. Do 20 reps each leg. You can also do theses on your side with abductor and adductor motions (inside and outside leg).
  2. resistance band sideways stepping. Place an elastic band around your ankles or knees and step sideways for 10 steps. Don’t bring the feet back together as you step, but come halfway. Go both directions for three reps. You will feel this in your outer thighs.
  3. step ups. These seem boring but really help. Find a stair that is 4 to 8 inches. One leg at a time, step up then back down the same way all the way back to the floor. Keep your body upright and don’t slouch. Do each leg for 20 reps. Start low on a 4 inch step then move up to 8 inch when 4 is too easy.
  4. step downs. Same idea but starting on the step. Don’t do these fast. Slower is better for building strength.
  5. Lunges. Start from standing and step forward keeping your torso upright. Bend the lead leg no more than 90 degrees on the bottom side. Do each leg 10 reps 3 times. Do the in a slow, measured pace to start.
  6. Side lunges: same ideas. Remember no not bend too far. It doesn’t help build strength going past 90.
  7. When you get stronger, single leg squats. Find a chair or bench or even stair with a wall or rails next to it. Standing with the back to the bench, place one leg back on the bench and squat down to no more than 90 degrees. It is important that your knee be behind your toes by and inch or two. Never past your toes. Do these slowly like a 3 count to start. 3 down, 3 up.
  8. Balance board or mat squats. Most gyms have one or the other. The squishy inflated mats or board. The idea is to do a standing squat on a surface that’s moving so other muscle have to engage to keep your balance. I prefer the round inflated disks that go under each foot or a board that only rotates side to side. Do 2 sets of 10. As above, do them slowly.

If you do these correctly and not too fast, it will be about a 30 minute workout. If you do them slow and measured, you will get stronger. If you zip through them, they won’t work as well.

Always ice the knees after the workout for 10 to 15 minutes. I use those freezer gel packs. I also iced my knees after playing too. That really helps.

Its been years since my last surgery, but I still do some of these exercises with every workout.

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2 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

I’ve had knee surgery and have OA ((chondromalacia) in both knee caps. I’ve also had PT many times for my knees. I would recommend going to a PT to learn the exercises with proper form. They most likely will recommend exercises that strengthen the muscle around the knee without causing pain or more damage. Check with your doctor or PT to see if these exercises are okay for you first.

Examples:

  1. Straight leg lifts with you sitting or lying on the floor. Starting with no weight, then increase weight to up to 5 pounds with ankle weights. One leg at a time with the other knee bent. Do 20 reps each leg. You can also do theses on your side with abductor and adductor motions (inside and outside leg).
  2. resistance band sideways stepping. Place an elastic band around your ankles or knees and step sideways for 10 steps. Don’t bring the feet back together as you step, but come halfway. Go both directions for three reps. You will feel this in your outer thighs.
  3. step ups. These seem boring but really help. Find a stair that is 4 to 8 inches. One leg at a time, step up then back down the same way all the way back to the floor. Keep your body upright and don’t slouch. Do each leg for 20 reps. Start low on a 4 inch step then move up to 8 inch when 4 is too easy.
  4. step downs. Same idea but starting on the step. Don’t do these fast. Slower is better for building strength.
  5. Lunges. Start from standing and step forward keeping your torso upright. Bend the lead leg no more than 90 degrees on the bottom side. Do each leg 10 reps 3 times. Do the in a slow, measured pace to start.
  6. Side lunges: same ideas. Remember no not bend too far. It doesn’t help build strength going past 90.
  7. When you get stronger, single leg squats. Find a chair or bench or even stair with a wall or rails next to it. Standing with the back to the bench, place one leg back on the bench and squat down to no more than 90 degrees. It is important that your knee be behind your toes by and inch or two. Never past your toes. Do these slowly like a 3 count to start. 3 down, 3 up.
  8. Balance board or mat squats. Most gyms have one or the other. The squishy inflated mats or board. The idea is to do a standing squat on a surface that’s moving so other muscle have to engage to keep your balance. I prefer the round inflated disks that go under each foot or a board that only rotates side to side. Do 2 sets of 10. As above, do them slowly.

If you do these correctly and not too fast, it will be about a 30 minute workout. If you do them slow and measured, you will get stronger. If you zip through them, they won’t work as well.

Always ice the knees after the workout for 10 to 15 minutes. I use those freezer gel packs. I also iced my knees after playing too. That really helps.

Its been years since my last surgery, but I still do some of these exercises with every workout.

Thanks so much. I'll certainly take your advice on running everything by my doctor. For some reason he felt PT wouldn't be a helpful option. I'll make sure to do these exercises as prescribed. 

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4 minutes ago, Bo the Golfer said:

Thanks so much. I'll certainly take your advice on running everything by my doctor. For some reason he felt PT wouldn't be a helpful option. I'll make sure to do these exercises as prescribed. 

If you have a good PT in the area, they will show you how to do the exercises properly, which is important. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been to PT.😀 They will talk to your doctor then give you a routine to work on at home. A couple of sessions may be all you need to learn the exercises. They will also know what things not to do to further cause issues.

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11 hours ago, boogielicious said:

I would recommend going to a PT to learn the exercises with proper form. They most likely will recommend exercises that strengthen the muscle around the knee without causing pain or more damage.

All true and good advice, based on my own experiences. Your doctor will prescribe PT. I have OA and RA. Had knee replacement March 2. I do the pre- and post-surgery PT hamstring stretch exercises every day. Plus my recumbent exercise bike. It's all good for you!  Best. -Marv

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