Knee Strengthening Study Sheds Light on Exercise for Knee Arthritis

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Exercise for knee arthritis

Exercise is one of those things that helps almost everything; your heart, your brain function, your mood, your musculoskeletal system, and your biomechanics.  Exercise has also been observed to decrease pain in patients with knee arthritis.  But why, what’s going on there?

Osteoarthritis is a disease which affects the cartilage and bone within the joint.  The cartilage is a slippery surface which allows the bones of a joint to glide smoothly past each other, and also provides shock absorption.  In osteoarthritis, the cartilage wears down and often holes and bone spurs form to attempt to correct the instability caused by the degeneration.

A new Study set out to study the effects of an exercise program on the pain level and outcome of patients with inside knee arthritis. Patients were assessed with various metrics which quantified how their legs and knee moved and which muscles were activated. Nineteen OA patients participated in group exercise sessions to treat their arthritis which included being taught a specific home exercise program

The results of studying exercise for knee arthritis were interesting. There was no significant change in the movement of the knee towards the outside when walking.  There was a significant change in how muscles on both sides of the knee contracted at the same time (co-contraction) while walking which corresponded to a significant decrease in pain. This suggested that the muscle co-contraction improvement could be what’s decreasing the pain with exercise.

The upshot?  While there are likely many things going on in the knee with exercise, the fact that more muscle co-contraction seems to be associated with less knee pain is likely one way the body attempts to stabilize the increasingly unstable, arthritic knee. Co-contraction of muscles on both sides of the knee will have the net affect of increased joint stabilization. In our experience, a more stable joint is a happier joint! So maybe some exercise for knee arthritis will help yours.

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9 thoughts on “Knee Strengthening Study Sheds Light on Exercise for Knee Arthritis

  1. Michael More

    Having gone through the stem cell therapy 3 months ago, I’m happy to say it was like a miracle. I can now walk for 4 miles with literally NO pain. Prior to the treatment, I could only walk for a block or two without pain.
    I’m at the club three times a week walking, biking and doing exercises for my knees. When I try to “push” it harder, the pain does come back. I’m backing off a bit more now.
    I still have an issue with steps, both up and down. Not at me knee, just below it. Do you have any suggestions for an exercise that can help me with steps?
    Thank you, Michael

    1. Regenexx Team

      Wonderful to hear of your progress! Our knee procedures can be 1 of 16 different injections, and any combination thereof, customized for your specific situation. Therefore only the doctor that examined and treated you can advise. Do you need assistance in contacting them?

      1. Michael More

        No, I’m seeing him in a month and will ask him at that time. Thank you for the prompt reply.

  2. jojo

    Did the study suggest specific types of exercise that were better for knee osteoarthritis pain, i.e. walking, cycling, aerobics, etc?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Jo jo,
      No, it didn’t. It simply said they were enrolled in a six-week group exercise programme integrated with self-management education. These two blogs give some suggestions for exercises for knee arthritis : and

  3. Helen Salem

    When can I begin to do medium-fast walking after Regenexx stem cell treatment in the knee?

    1. Regenexx Team

      To know what’s appropriate in your particular case, you’d need to discuss with your treating Doctor.

  4. Jordan

    I ride horseback (english saddle) 2x per week. That means I use my knees heavily when posting to trot. Yet, I usually experience an alleviation of pain both during & after riding :)

    1. Regenexx Team

      That’s great! It may have something to do with the motion and the posture…

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