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6 Exercises That Can Help You Manage Knee Osteoarthritis

It might sound counterintuitive, but if you have knee osteoarthritis, you should make exercise a priority. Here are knee stretches and strengthening exercises to try.

If you’re one of the 14 million Americans who have knee osteoarthritis, you might think that moving the joint will do more harm than good. But the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) says just the opposite: that, in fact, exercising is one of the best ways to manage your knee pain.

How Knee Exercises Provide Pain Relief

Exercise can help relieve the pain from knee osteoarthritis by strengthening the muscles around the joint. Stronger muscles ease the stress placed on the knee joint and act as shock absorbers, deflecting some of the day-to-day strain caused by walking and other activities. The AAOS guidelines emphasize that a wide range of exercises can improve knee pain, including weight-bearing, low-impact, and water-based activities.

Most non-impact exercises are good for knee health. In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE in 2015, women with osteoarthritis who did yoga movements three times a week experienced a reduction in knee pain after 12 weeks. Another study published in Pain Research and Management in 2015 found that people with osteoarthritis who walked for at least 150 minutes a week reported less pain than their more-sedentary peers.

6 Ways to Build Strength and Stretch Your Knees

Regularly performing some of these recommended exercises for knee osteoarthritis may help improve your function and mobility:

Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your exercise routine, and consider consulting with a physical therapist about which movements to do and when. Once you begin exercising, be sure to take it slow and easy. And remember: Activity, not inactivity, will bring the best results.

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