Do you wake up with painful or stiff knees in the morning? Are you finding
your daily walks or climbing stairs harder than usual?
It is not unusual to develop aches and pains as we age. Many factors
contribute. However, it is also not inevitable or irreversible.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and a common cause
of joint pain. This joint disease is characterised by a breakdown in the cartilage
(smooth cushioning) between the bones in joints. For some people this can
lead to painful, swollen joints and difficulty moving.
OA can affect any joint in the body, most commonly the knees. It is estimated
that the number of people affected by OA will increase by approximately 50%
over the next 20 years and one third of older adults will have evidence of knee
OA in X-ray scans. OA affects people of all ages and is very common in ages 50
and over. Did you know that OA affects women more than men? The good
news is there are many ways to manage OA to prevent or minimise pain and
What are signs and symptoms of knee osteoarthritis?
● Reduced strength
● Knee stiffness – particularly first thing in the morning or after sitting
for a long time
● Knee pain – especially with activities such as squatting, stair climbing
● Difficulty with movement
● Feeling like your knee might ‘give way’
The image below shows the changes in a knee joint with osteoarthritis.
Does exercise make OA worse?
The answer is NO! The latest international guidelines for OA strongly
recommend all forms of exercise for the management of knee OA. Research
shows that including strength training into your weekly routine (2-3 days a week) has significant benefits for your pain, strength and ability to carry out your usual daily activities.
We know that a structured progressive strengthening program will in most
cases help improve your function and reduce your pain. Like many things, it is
within your control to make a big change.
What if I think I need joint replacement surgery?
Even if joint replacement surgery has been recommended to you,
participating in a progressive strengthening program will improve the
strength and movement of your knees. You may find that you can delay your
surgery temporarily or permanently. When you do proceed to surgery, you
are likely to achieve better outcomes if your leg muscles are stronger and you
have better mobility.
Many of us who would be categorised as Gen X grew up believing that
strength training would lead to an undesirable body type and instead chose
to sweat away in the aerobics studio (for those who would like to revisit that
time watch Rose Byrne in Physical). We now know that strength training has
a myriad of benefits. One of them is reducing knee pain when exercises are
What is strength training and why should you be doing it?
● Strength or resistance training involves the use of body weight,
resistance bands, free weights or machine weights.
● There is strong recent evidence supporting strength training as an
effective way to strengthen the muscles which support your joints
and minimise cartilage breakdown. This can help with decreasing
your knee pain and stiffness, making everyday activities such as
walking and squatting much easier!
● These benefits can be a result of leg exercises or a combination of
upper and lower body exercise for general strengthening. Studies
show that hip and calf strengthening also helps support your knee
Did you know?
Physiotherapists are skilled in designing strength programs for patients with
knee OA. We take into consideration the severity of your condition as well as your pain levels. You can book an appointment for an assessment of your strength, knee range of motion and pain levels before starting your exercise program. Where you start will depend on your current function and we can
help guide you along your journey to living an active and pain-free life!
Healthy Knees Program
A progressive strengthening program for knee pain can make your current daily activities easier - and may mean you can return to or continue with activities that you thought were no longer an option.
The team at The Healthy Body Company, have created a 12 week progressive strengthening program to get you on track. The Healthy Knees Program has all the elements you need to make real changes in your function. All you need to do is to commit 30 minutes three times each week to follow the instructional videos and get it done. On joining the program you have access to our exclusive Facebook group where you get all the support you need. If you would like to learn more about the program, read more here.
CEO, The Healthy Body Company
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