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Exercises for Knee Osteoarthritis - The exercises that worked for my dad at 73

As we get older, it is more important than ever, to continue or, to even start an active lifestyle, no matter what age. Regular exercise helps people age more slowly and live healthier, more vigorous lives. Often though, we also get more aches and pains and a lot of people develop osteoarthritis in the joints. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time (most commonly the knees, hips, spine and hands). The damage to the joints can’t be reversed but the symptoms can usually be managed. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying active might slow the progression and help decrease the pain.


Since I create exercise videos for seniors, I thought it was a good opportunity to bring my dad into the studio to show you exercises that have worked well for him. After my dad walked with pain for over a year, he realized the pain wasn't going to go away so he decided to see his family doctor. He was given an appointment to get his knee

x-rayed to determine what was causing the pain and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in his right knee. The doctor prescribed a cream (which did nothing) and was told he could get cortisone shots if he felt he needed them for the pain. Instead, he decided to go to a physiotherapist (smart decision!) who prescribed several exercises. Within four months, my dad was basically pain-free. He said he occasionally will have a little bit of pain if he overdoes it, or if he moves in a strange way but it is rare to feel pain now. He continues to do the exercises (almost daily) and currently walks over 10,000 steps a day without pain.


The key message is to continue the exercises, even after the pain stops.


It is important to continue building strength and to continue the stretching exercises, even after the pain is gone. I want to include that I am not an expert on knee osteoarthritis so if you have pain in your knees, I highly recommend you see your medical doctor or a physiotherapist. It is best to know what is causing the pain. For those who have been diagnosed, hopefully these exercises will work for you. Even if you don't have osteoarthritis, you can still do these exercises. The exercises will provide you with stretching and strengthening movements to become stronger and help you walk longer. My dad is 73 and he is proof that the exercises work. The great news is that he is walking more than ever!



1. Seated Hamstring Stretch


Purpose: To stretch the hamstring muscles


1. Sit on the end of a chair with one leg extended in front while the other leg is bent at 90 degrees.

2. Maintain a flat back and hinge forward at the hips.

3. As you hinge forward, you should feel the stretch in the back of your upper leg (hamstrings).

4. Start with holding for 30 seconds. Over time, gradually increase the length of time you hold the stretch (as long as two minutes or even longer if you wish). Repeat twice on each side.

5. Option: You can stretch both legs at the same time, if you wish.

Hamstring Stretch for Leg Flexibility
Hamstring Stretch Start Position
Hamstring Stretch for Leg Flexibility
Hamstring Stretch for Leg Flexibility

2. Knee Extensions


Purpose: To improve the range of motion and strength in your knees


1. Sit on a chair with your back against the backrest and knees bent at 90 degrees.

2. Raise one foot up until your leg is straight (or up as much as you can manage). Hold for 3-5 seconds.

3. Lower your foot.

4. Start with 10 repetitions and gradually move up to 15.

5. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Leg Extension for Leg Strength
Leg Extension Start Position
Leg Extension for Building Leg Strength
Leg Extension

3. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch


Purpose: To stretch the hip flexor in the front of the hip


1. Kneel on the affected knee and bend your other leg in front at 90 degrees.

2. Keep your back straight and slowly push your hip (of the affected knee) forward until you feel a good stretch in the front of the back leg and hip.

3. Start with holding for 30 seconds and work up to holding for longer periods.

4. Repeat twice.

Hip Flexor Stretch Position
Hip Flexor Stretch

Alternative Exercise for those who need a chair:

Seated Hip Flexor Stretch


1. Sit on a chair with just one hip on the chair with that same leg bent at 90 degrees.

2. With the other leg, bring the leg back until you feel a stretch in the front of your upper leg.

3. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and work up to 2 minutes.

4. Repeat on the other side.

Seated Hip Flexor Stretch
Seated Hip Flexor Stretch

4. Single-Leg Lying Cross-Over Stretch


Purpose: To stretch the hips, glutes and lower back


1. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor and shoulder width apart.

2. Place your arms straight out at your sides.

3. Place your left leg straight while your right leg crosses over the left leg until your foot touches the floor (always move slowly while going into the stretch).

4. Turn your head the opposite way and relax your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds and work up to 2 minutes over time.

5. Slowly come out of the stretch and repeat on the other side.


Lying Cross-Over Hip Stretch
Lying Cross-Over Hip Stretch

*Alternative way to stretch the hip: Follow steps 1 and 2 above then bring your ankle onto your opposite knee, have your knee gently fall to the floor until your foot is flat on the floor. Follow steps 4 and 5.


Bent Leg Cross-Over Hip Stretch
Lying Figure 4 Hip Stretch

Alternative Exercise for those who need a chair:

Seated Figure 4 Stretch


1. Sit in a chair with legs bent at 90 degrees.

2. Raise your right foot/ankle onto your left knee.

3. Maintain a flat back, hinge at the hips and bring your chest forward.

4. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to start and gradually move up to holding for 2 minutes.

Seated Figure 4 Stretch for Hip Stretch and Glute Stretch
Seated Figure 4 Stretch

5. Lying Glute Bridges


Purpose: To stretch hips, strengthen glutes and alleviate lower back pain


1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

2. Lift your hips off the floor until your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line.

3. Squeeze your glutes for 2 seconds then lower to the floor and repeat 10 times.


Glute Bridge Starting Position
Glute Bridge Starting Position
Glute Bridge Position
Glute Bridge

Alternative Exercise for those who need a chair:

Hip Abductors with Band (Glute Activation)


1. Sit on a chair with feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart.

2. Place a glute band (circular band) just above the knees (easiest) or below the knees (harder).

3. Sit up straight and concentrate on feeling the work in the glutes.

4. Bring your knees apart, hold for 2 seconds then come back to neutral position.

5. Repeat 10 times.

Seated Hip Abductors Exercise
Seated Hip Abductors Starting Position
Seated Hip Abductors Exercise
Hip Abductors Exercise

6. Squats


Purpose: An amazing strengthening exercise that works your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abdominals and lower back, too!


1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart with feet pointing forward.

2. Bend your knees, put your weight into your heels and sit back as if sitting in a chair.

3. Ensure your knees do not go past your toes.

4. Repeat 10 times if possible.

Squat Starting Position
Squat Starting Position
Squat Position
Squat Position

Alternative Exercise for those who need a chair:

Squats can also be done using a chair and are called ‘Sit to Stands’. Perform the same moves as the squats but use a chair for support. You can either put all your weight onto the chair or just touch the chair lightly as you come down into the squat motion and stand up again.

Sit to Stand Exercise

7. Lunges


Purpose: Another very effective strengthening exercise for your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abdominals and lower back. Lunges also help with balance and hip flexibility.


1. Stand straight then bring one foot forward by taking a big step.

2. Lower your hips until both of your legs are bent at 90 degrees.

3. Ensure the knee in the front does not go back the toes of the same leg.

4. Think of moving ‘down’ instead of ‘lunging forward’.

5. Repeat 10 times on one side then switch legs.

Lunge Starting Position
Lunge Starting Position
Proper Lunge Position
Lunge Position

A printable copy:

Knee Osteoarthritis Exercises
.docx
Download DOCX • 18KB




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