Osteoarthritis can cause knee pain, but combatting that knee pain may be as easy as walking. The older we get, the more it seems our joints start to hurt. All the years of being active finally catch up with us, and pain starts to set in. In particular, it seems that our knees take the heaviest hit…
Before you know it, simply going up some stairs becomes a painful experience.
Maybe you take some form of anti-inflammatory or pain-reliever to ease the pain, but those can only last so long. Really, you want to take care of the source of your pain – not just put a Band-Aid solution on it. The best natural and effective means to ease knee osteoarthritis is walking. As new research shows, getting in a minimum of 6,000 steps a day is your key to increasing mobility.
Walking Reduces Risk of Functional Limitation in Knee Osteoarthritis (OA)
Research published in Journal Arthritis Care & Research concluded that walking just 6,000 or more steps daily – that’s about three miles – helps those with knee osteoarthritis pain with their general movements. Using pedometers, researchers tracked the daily steps of 1,788 participants between the ages of 50 and 79 for a total of seven days.
Two years later, they tested participants’ walking speed and collected self-reported data on participants’ ability to perform everyday tasks, such as getting out of a chair, climbing the stairs, and performing household duties. Those who walked 6,000 steps or more each day experienced fewer “functional limitations” than those who walked far less. And for each 1,000 daily steps participants walked, their limitations declined by as much as 18 percent.
Osteoarthritis Pain in Knees
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), osteoarthritis pain is a degenerative joint disease affecting roughly 27 million Americans. It happens whenever the cartilage that covers your joints breaks down, exposing bones and causing them to come into contact with each other, which results in severe pain.
This kind of joint degeneration may also cause the joint to become misshapen, bringing about a limited range of motion and even greater pain.
Benefits of Walking for Osteoarthritis
In the past, experts recommended that people with knee osteoarthritis pain take it easy to avoid placing further stress on their achy joints. But thanks to this latest study, it’s quite clear that movement, especially walking, is the best remedy for osteoarthritis pain. The best part about it is that you don’t need to go from zero steps to 6,000 to reap the benefits of walking.
In fact, if you have mild to moderate knee pain, start with just 3,000 steps every day. Make an effort to do it on those days when you have little or no pain, gradually increasing your steps from there and trying activities like yoga, swimming, and strength training. They’re also effective at getting your heart rate up without putting more strain on your joints.
Of course, regardless of these steps, people who make the same motions repeatedly while working and playing sports have a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis pain. So, even if you’re not a construction worker, professional athlete, or ballet dancer, try to regularly switch up your routine, varying your movements as much as possible while still practicing proper form.
Although factors like age, gender, and genetics can determine whether or not you develop osteoarthritis pain, you can still make simple changes to your diet and exercise routine to lower your risk.
You might experience a little bit of pain at first. But if you keep up with the walking, that will help alleviate your pain in the long run.
Osteoarthritis Knee Pain Relief Exercises
All you need for this exercise is a sturdy chair for balance. Start by standing behind the chair and place your hands on the back. Slightly bend your right leg. Step back with your left leg and slowly straighten it behind you, pressing your left heel towards the floor. You should feel the stretch in your calf. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Keep the chair out from your last exercise to help with balance for your mini squat. Stand shoulder-width apart behind the chair and hold on for balance. Slowly bend knees to lower body a few inches. Keep feet flat, and don’t let knees go beyond your toes. Hold for 6 seconds. Slightly tighten buttocks as you straighten back up to a standing position.
Stand up straight, holding on to the back of a chair. Take a step backward with one foot, keeping knees bent and feet flat. Tuck buttocks slightly under your hips until you feel a slight stretch in the thigh and hip of the back leg. Hold the pose for ten seconds, then step back into place. Repeat with another leg.
Sit on the edge of a chair. Straighten one leg outwards with the heel on the ground and toes pointing up. Keep the other foot flat on the floor. Keep your back straight while gently leaning forward from the hips. You should feel a stretch in the back of the outstretched leg. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat with the other leg.
As simple as the name makes it sound. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent. Place a pillow between knees and squeeze knees squishing the pillow between them. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax. Do these squeezes in 2 sets of 10 repetitions. You can also do this excise while seated for an easier alternative.
Sit on the floor with both sets stretched outward. Stabilize yourself with your hands placed on the floor on either side of you. Slowly bend one leg until it feels stretched. Be careful not to overstretch. Stop if you feel any pain. Hold the leg in the bent position for 5 seconds, lower it, and repeat with the other leg.