If you’ve got sore knees caused by osteoarthritis, you may be apprehensive about exercise.
Don’t be. Strengthening the muscles around the joints can ease pain and restore quality to your life.
New research has found that even short bouts of exercise can help to reduce knee pain from osteoarthritis and improve range of motion. Knee osteoarthritis, which is the wear-and-tear form of the disease, occurs when the cartilage between bones breaks down to cause pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Researchers compared the effects of high-dose and low-dose exercise on 189 people with knee osteoarthritis. Everyone exercised thrice per week for 12 weeks, including indoor cycling and various lower-body exercises like de-loaded squats and knee extensions.
De-loaded exercises use bands or pulleys to take the weight off the knee joint and minimize pain.
The high-dose exercise group performed 11 exercises in 60-90 minute sessions, and the low-dose group did five exercises in 20-30 minute sessions.
All the participants showed improvements on a standard scale measuring knee osteoarthritis pain and function at three, six, and 12 months. The high-dose group showed greater improvements during sports and recreation at six months, which indicates it may be better for athletes or those who like to get out and play on the weekend.
Researchers found that adherence to the exercise prescription was high, and that was likely because it was based on a minimal/no pain basis.
If you’ve got knee pain resulting from wear and tear over time, don’t stop moving. Instead, perform exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joint. A large body of research suggests exercise can relieve pain and improve other symptoms.
As this study and others have explored, the best exercises are low-impact exercises. Cycling, swimming, and de-loaded resistance training with bands and pulleys are the best options.