If you have some age related wear and tear in your knees one of your goals in preserving the quality of your knee joint for as long as possible (and putting off a knee replacement) is going to be maintaining good strength in your quadriceps (thigh) muscles. Follow these 5 great exercises to prolong the life of your knees. I’ve started with the hardest exercise and progressed to the easiest. Depending on how much degeneration your knee is suffering from will depend on what you can safely cope with. Hence it is recommended that you see your SquareOne Physio prior to starting a strength program so they can tailor the program to your individual needs:
1. Wall Squats- with your back against the wall, bend your knees and hold the squat position. Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart and your knees are tracking over your feet. 10 x 10 seconds is a good target and build up from there.
2. Step Ups- a great functional exercise that targets not only your quads but also your gluteal (buttock) muscles. Use a regular sized step in the house and lead with your bad side. Make sure your good leg isn’t doing all the work and aim for 3 sets of 15.
3. Cycling- probably one of the best exercises for an OA knee as there is significantly less force going through the knee joint than in the above two exercises. Cycling is great for developing quads strength, provides gentle range of motion and also activates the other muscles around the knee, namely the hamstrings. Most OA knee rehab programs should include some cycling.
4. Static Quads Contractions- if the above exercises are causing you some discomfort, if you have swelling around the knee or you are starting from a low strength base then static quads contractions are a good beginning point. Simply straighten your leg and tighten your quads. Pulling your foot back can also help get a better quads contraction. 3 x 15 one second holds is a good starting base.
5. Water Walking- if you are struggling to walk without significant discomfort then walking in the pool can be a great way to ensure you are maintaining some quads strength and also getting some all important cardio exercise to keep your body weight down.
What about Walking? Patients often ask if walking is good rehab for an OA knee. While walking is great cardio exercise and an excellent way to control your body weight which we know is an important aspect of managing an OA knee, it unfortunately isn’t specific enough to provide adequate stimulus to the quadriceps muscle to allow for a strength gain that the above exercises do. And if you have significant wear in your knee it could even be making it worse with the repeated loading.
If you have any queries regarding your OA knee please see your SquareOne Physio today.