Stretching for arthritic knees is important for many reasons such as to maintain health, decrease pain, and strengthen the knee.
Benefits of Stretching for Arthritic Knees
The major benefit of stretching your arthritic knees is to prevent arthritis from worsening. It does seem painful to get up and move when your body hurts and seems to be saying "rest", but that's not true. The less you move, the more your muscles and ligaments tighten and your joints bend even less. You also burn fewer calories, and the weight you pack on as a result puts more strain on your joints.
The Arthritis Foundation reports that regular stretching and exercise can also help increase range of motion, reduce fatigue, provide arthritis pain relief, and help you to relax and feel better overall.
Safely Stretching Arthritic Knees
Stretching for arthritic knees is very important, but be careful. The American College of Rheumatology offers some tips about safely stretching arthritic knees.
- Always check with your doctor before choosing stretches or exercises.
- If you aren't used to much movement, ask your doctor about first participating in a therapeutic exercise program. This is the best first step. After the program, you should be able to do more exercises on your own.
- If you have the most stiffness in the morning, try a gentle stretching routine first. Save a more active fitness class for later in the day, when your body is more warmed up.
- If fatigue is a barrier for you, try stretching and exercising into shorter bursts throughout the day, such as 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, and another 10 minutes before dinner.
For people experiencing osteoarthritis in the knee or elsewhere, research indicates that basic stretching is likely not enough. The best programs involve a combination of stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercise to reduce symptoms, ease pain, and increase overall knee health. Consult with your doctor for programs that will help.
Where to Find Great Arthritic Knee Stretches
Here are some of the best resources for more ideas about stretching for arthritic knees.
- WebMD has a helpful article about stretching for arthritis that offers some whole body stretching techniques. The methods are simple to understand and the stretches are safe and doctor-recommended.
- The Knee Society is a wonderful source of information for anyone with any sort of knee issues, including arthritic knees.
- The Stretch Doctor offers a useful DVD, Stretching For Arthritis of the Knee.
- Move beyond Pain features videos and audio tapes recommended for arthritis sufferers that use all sorts of methods to relieve pain such as stretching, exercise, and guided imagery.
- The Arthritis Society offers free exercise routines on its website, with step-by-step instructions and animated demonstrations.
- Many exercise programs now incorporate healthy stretching and some tailor themselves to individuals with arthritis. You can ask your doctor to recommend a yoga or Pilates class. Also check into a fitness center to learn more about opportunities for these types of classes.
- Learn more about the benefits of stretching with these LoveToKnow articles: Stretch Exercises for Seniors and Tai Chi for Seniors.