Knee Arthritis Exercises for Seniors

Knee arthritis exercises can be helpful in managing the common problem of osteoarthritis of the knees. The pain from knee arthritis can interfere with your daily activities of living and make walking or stairs a challenge.

Arthritis is generally due to the wear-and-tear of life due to sports, job related activities, and injuries. It will develop slowly of several years and is mainly felt as swelling, pain, and stiffness in the knee.

  1. Knee extension stretching
  2. Knee to Chest stretching
  3. Seated Knee Extension
  4. Mini Squats
Watch my instructional video

To improve the range of motion in your knee start with the pressure on and off exercises for knee extension. This may also help with pain as you slowly stretch the knee out. The working the opposite direction with knee to chest exercises with bring more flexion motion to your knee. Moving on to strengthening the is nothing like a seated knee extension exercise. Make sure to squeeze your thigh at the end of the movement to fully engage the quad. Finally a gentle mini squat to finish strengthening the legs in a closed chair exercise to strengthen the quads fully.

Exercise 1

Knee extension stretch Begin in your chair and extend your leg fully with your heel resting on the floor. Place both hands just above your knee cap between your thumb web and first finger. Apply pressure to straighten your knee out as fully as comfortable, then relax and take the pressure off. Repeat this for 1 minute on each knee.

Exercise 2

Knee to Chest Begin this exercise in your chair with your bottom to the edge, leaning back like you are falling asleep. Extend your legs out in front. Slowly reach down and place your hands around one of your knee, then gently bring that knee toward your chest. If you have had a knee replacement, check with your doctor. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg. Remember to breathe during the exercise.

Exercise 3

Knee Extension.  Sit in your chair comfortably with your feet flat on the floor, and chest lifted. Begin by extending one knee until your leg is straight out. Squeeze your thigh muscle and point your toes to the ceiling to enhance your exercise. Hold briefly, then return your foot to the start position and repeat with the other leg.

Exercise 4

Mini Squats.  Begin by standing in back of your chair or holding on to a counter or sink. Lift your chest and chin. Start by bending your knees and level change downward, not too far. This is not a squat, it is a partial squat. Stop about half way down into your partial squat, pause, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Arthritis pain is generally worse after an activity that involves a lot of knee bending or squatting. Walking may be fine for knee pain because you are not bending that much during the normal gait cycle, but if you sit in a chair for an extended period, you may feel some pain and stiffness. This is due to the inflammation in the join lining called the synovium or could also be due to stretching the nerve endings especially if there are any bone spurs called osteophytes.

The diagnosis of arthritis can usually be made by a visit to your doctor and a simple history and exam. X-rays can also be helpful in your diagnosis and may be the only test you need to take in many cases. X-rays may not show arthritis when in the early stages and it may not be clear just where the pain is coming from.

Pain can also result from an injury including a torn meniscus or knee cap gliding problems. An MRI may be ordered to look at the knee more closely because it shows more than just the bones. It can show ligaments, articular cartilage, and the menisci as well.

Knee arthritis exercises for seniors can go a long way in helping reduce the pain and stiffness from arthritis and help restore the strength and range of motion you had previously. Start today with these simple exercises to begin your fitness journey to strengthen your knees.

Let me know if you have any questions or would like to see other exercises or senior fitness content. You can leave your comments and suggestions on my About Page. Need personal help? Check out my new Academy. Exercise is really your magic pill to feel better and live longer. Remember to stay active, stay strong, and stay connected!

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Doug Schrift

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.