Workout routines for Arthritic Knees, From an 81-12 months-Outdated Coach

An arthritis analysis typically leads folks to chop again on train. Initially, that was the strategy Harry King took. Again when he was simply 50 years previous and dealing for an insurance coverage firm in South Carolina, a health care provider instructed him to not stroll an excessive amount of or take the steps due to his arthritic knees, suggesting he solely do aqua workouts within the water.

I attempted that for 2 years,” he says. However limiting himself simply did not really feel proper. So he obtained one other physician and tried a brand new technique. “I began exercising and doing the issues an individual who needs an lively way of life ought to do,” he says. 

A former kayaking coach and karate teacher, he started specializing in low-impact resistance workouts for his legs in order that his muscle mass may develop into sturdy sufficient to soak up the stress of actions like strolling and mountaineering, reasonably than letting that stress fall on his knee joints. Particularly, he zeroed in on his hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves.

Specialists In This Article

And it labored. Regardless of his cartilage solely being “as thick as a bank card,” as he places it, he constructed up sufficient power to help his knees by means of a hike throughout your entire state of South Carolina at age 75. Which will appear fairly formidable, however King, now 81 and a licensed private coach working at Planet Health, says that today, “my knees do not give me any issues in any respect.”

How train may help arthritis signs

Specialists again up King’s strategy. “Train helps to keep up mobility and may help with reducing additional joint stiffening,” household doctor Tamika Henry, MD, founding father of Limitless Well being Institute, as soon as instructed Nicely+Good about figuring out with arthritis. “Train additionally will increase blood stream to the realm, which might enhance muscle power and has been related to a lower in ache.” Particularly, analysis1 reveals resistance coaching might be particularly helpful, bettering joint perform, ache, stiffness, and power.

King’s high workouts for arthritic knees

So what had been the workouts that helped King get sturdy sufficient to hike a whole lot of miles on arthritic knees? These had been the 5 he says he targeted on most:

Leg extensions

This train zeroes in on the quadriceps on the highest of the thighs. That is useful as a result of when the quads are weak, the patellar tendon on the base of the kneecap “could have a tough time managing the a great deal of exercise,” bodily therapist Joseph Rayner IV, DPT, beforehand instructed Nicely+Good about exercising for knee ache.

The commonest method to do that train is on a devoted leg extension machine.

  1. Sit on the machine along with your shins beneath the pad. Choose a weight that is simply heavy sufficient for about 10 reps, with the final one or two reps feeling difficult to finish.
  2. Slowly straighten your legs (however do not lock your knees).
  3. Steadily carry them again to the beginning place with out letting the load drop.

If you do not have entry to a leg extension machine, you’ll find related advantages at residence by placing on ankle weights, or strapping a looped resistance band to the underside of a chair or sofa and sitting down, then extending one knee at a time in opposition to that resistance.

Hamstring curls

Many people have tight, weak hamstrings from sitting a lot. And when these muscle mass aren’t sturdy sufficient, different ones overcompensate, resulting in imbalances that might pressure our knees. Hamstring curls may help forestall this.

There are devoted hamstring curl machines on the fitness center you should use:

  1. Sitting on the machine, place your ankles on high of the pad. Choose a weight that is simply heavy sufficient for about 10 reps with the final one or two reps feeling difficult to finish.
  2. Slowly bend on the knee, bringing your ft towards your butt.
  3. Steadily return to the beginning place with out letting the load drop.

If you do not have entry to a machine, you are able to do standing hamstring curls utilizing simply your physique weight, slowly bringing one heel at a time towards your butt. Or you’ll be able to sit down, tie a looped resistance band to some extent in entrance of you, then do seated hamstring curls one foot at a time.

Leg presses

A leg press will work on each your quads and hamstrings, and in addition get your glutes concerned. And as Steve Stonehouse, CPT, vp of programming for Stride and Physique Match Coaching, as soon as instructed Nicely+Good, glute imbalances will not be solely tremendous frequent, however they will result in ache all the way in which down the kinetic chain of your legs—together with the knees.

The standard option to do these is to make use of a leg press machine.

  1. Begin with ft flat on the press, shoulder-width aside; it is best to have your knees bent at 90 levels to start.
  2. As soon as you have chosen an applicable weight to do 10 reps with the final one or two being difficult to finish, push by means of your heels to straighten your legs (however do not lock the knees).
  3. Slowly bend the knees to carry your physique again towards the press with out letting the load drop.

If you do not have entry to a machine, that is one other occasion the place resistance bands can turn out to be useful: Lie in your again, ft within the air with the band wrapped round them (and holding the opposite finish tight in your palms), then straighten and bend your legs in opposition to the band’s resistance.


Just like a leg press, the basic squat will work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, and might be simply achieved with no tools in any respect.

Standing along with your ft hip-width aside, bend your knees to carry your butt again after which down (as if you are about to sit down in a chair), then straighten again up.

To extend the problem, you’ll be able to attempt squat variations just like the goblet squat or entrance squat, each of which add weight.

Calf raises

“Calves are one of the vital under-trained muscle mass in your physique,” licensed private coach Lindsey Lauten as soon as instructed Nicely+Good. “In case you’ve ever felt knee ache after doing a number of burpees or operating on a treadmill, weak calves could possibly be behind it.” She says the answer is including calf raises to your weekly lineup: “Calf raises are a easy, however tremendous efficient and helpful, train.”

Here is do them:

  1. Stand tall, with legs hip-width aside and ft flat on the bottom.
  2. Push by means of the balls of your ft to carry your heels off the bottom.
  3. Decrease again down slowly and with management.

To extend the problem, you’ll be able to attempt doing one leg at a time (grabbing onto one thing steady just like the wall or countertop for steadiness), or holding weights when you full the transfer.

King’s takeaway at age 81

Along with coaching Planet Health members, King continues to work out often on his personal, lifting weights or working with TRX straps 4 days every week, and getting in cardio not less than as soon as every week. And he nonetheless does plenty of kayaking, which he says offers him a total-body exercise.

His motto? “We cannot surrender our lively way of life,” King says. “It is too vital to be lively at no matter stage you’ll be able to.”

Nicely+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, latest, sturdy research to again up the data we share. You may belief us alongside your wellness journey.

  1. Wen, Zhigang, and Yi Chai. “Effectiveness of resistance workouts within the remedy of rheumatoid arthritis: A meta-analysis.” Drugs vol. 100,13 (2021): e25019. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000025019

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