Best Way to Stay Active Even When You Have Knee OA
You may be restricting your movements when you have knee osteoarthritis, but you can reduce joint pain and slow the progression of the condition by staying active through safe exercise, lifestyle changes, and physical therapy.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when the cartilage or cushion between the joints breaks down. This progressive joint failure may cause pain and lead to disability. OA happens in many different joints, but it’s most commonly found in the knees, hips, and hands.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Mild to severe joint pain, especially after overuse or long periods of inactivity such as sitting for long periods of time
- Creaking/grating joint sounds
- Swollen or stiff joint
- Limited joint movement
- Weak muscles surrounding a sore joint due to lack of use
- Joint deformity
What does it mean to live with Osteoarthritis?
OA can affect many different areas of your life. Pain at night can stop you from falling or staying asleep. During the day, OA may limit your mobility to do everyday chores, or interfere with work especially if you have a physically demanding job. Dealing with a long-term condition like OA can also be stressful and may lead to depression. You can minimize any problems OA is causing by developing a sleep routine, stress relief, and staying physically active.
Why is it important to stay active when you’re living with Osteoarthritis?
It’s important to stay active when you’re living with OA for three critically important reasons:
- Physical activity helps you control your weight. Lack of activity can lead to obesity, which can cause more medical conditions. Added weight also adds more pressure to your joints.
- Too much rest is counterproductive when you have OA because it de-conditions your muscles and joints. You want to be moving around to preserve your range of motion and increase your strength.
- Research has shown that physical exercise reduces OA symptoms.
What are the best ways to stay active when diagnosed with Osteoarthritis?
Always talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Beneficial physical activities when you have OA include:
- Low impact aerobics will help you control your weight. A loss of just a few pounds can make a major difference in reducing your pain level.
- Range of motion (ROM) exercises and stretching that includes gentle stretching and slow movements take joints through the normal amount they can be moved in certain directions. Doing these exercises regularly helps maintain and improve joint flexibility.
- Swimming is an excellent way to build your strength, improve endurance and boost overall health while allowing the water to absorb the strain of your movements.
- Cycling on a stationary bike is an excellent way to get a cardiovascular workout without stressing your weight-bearing knee joints.
Tips for exercising when you have OA
- Use a physical therapist who can help you begin a safe exercise program. A physical therapist knows the exercises that will benefit you and the ones to avoid, and can also show you how to do exercises correctly.
- Take exercise slowly and ease gradually into your workout program, increasing your workouts over time.
- Lose weight or maintain a lower weight because as little as 10 extra pounds puts about 40 extra pounds of stress on your knees with each step. Exercise to lose pounds or maintain a healthy weight.
If you’re living with OA, the first step in restoring your mobility and quality of life is scheduling a consultation with an experienced orthopedic knee specialist. Dr. Peter K. Sculco provides high quality care combined with first-rate orthopedic training. Call 212.606.1771 today or fill out the form on this page for an appointment.