THE 5 BEST TIPS TO MANAGE KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS (OA)
1. STRENGTHEN YOUR QUADS & HIPS
Lots of research has been done in this area. To really strengthen your legs you need to work up to lifting heavier loads, as that will give you the best results. However, if that’s not your thing, don’t stress – any strength improvement will help you manage your knee OA. Focus a lot on the quads and glutes, but don’t leave out any other muscle groups! Your Physio or Exercise Physiologist can work with you to write a program for this.
2. DON’T AVOID WEIGHTBEARING ACTIVITY
Exercise actually helps LUBRICATE THE JOINT! Yes, lubricate it. The more you move it and use it, the more the brain sends it lovely joint juices to help maintain lubrication. So, if you have been avoiding a type of exercise due to fear of making your OA worse, there’s a good chance that if you reintroduce it slowly again, you won’t feel too bad at all!
3. EDUCATE YOURSELF
OA is a slowly progressing joint disease that results in the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones to break down. This causes the underlying bone to change, resulting in bone spurs, cysts, pain and stiffness. It’s important to know that exercise doesn’t ‘wear and tear’ the joint and that OA treatment should focus on improving function, reducing pain and reducing modifiable risk factors (e.g. obesity). NSAIDs (anti-inflams), various injections and supplements may help, as well as strength work and exercise – best to talk to your doc about the medications and your Physio or Exercise Physiologist about exercise.
4. DECREASE YOUR BODY MASS
A decrease of only 1kg of body mass reduces peak knee load by 2.2kg and compressive knee forces by 4kg. So it’s a no brainer! We don’t recommend starving yourself down to a stick man, but we do recommend reducing any excess body mass that you don’t need hanging around.
5. A FLARE UP DON’T MEAN GIVE UP
Flare ups – they will happen. Accept them, allow yourself time to figure out why it’s happened and then continue to manage once able. It’s just a fact of life, you will have good days and bad days with knee OA. But if you follow the above tips and you’ve really educated yourself then you will be able to manage and put off that knee replacement for a bit longer yet!
DID YOU KNOW?
Research has shown that Recreational Runners (RR) have a LOWER prevalence of OA symptoms than individuals who DON'T run! That's right! RR had a prevalence of 3.5% and Non-Runners had a prevalence of 10.2%. This suggests that running may actually be protective! (Alentorn-Geli et. al 2017)