Exercises for Osteoarthritis

by | Feb 25, 2016 | Arthritis, Lower Body

When you have daily knee pain, it can make doing everything from walking to bending a chore. But did you know that water exercise is an effective treatment for the management of knee osteoarthritis and recommended by the Osteoarthritis Research Society International and by the American College of Rheumatology?

Flavia Yazigi, PhD and professor at the University of Lisbon has done extensive research in this area and says, “Aerobic, aquatic and resistance exercise have been shown to help interrupt the cycle of pain-physical activity reduction, control knee osteoarthritis symptoms and improve physical fitness.”

Findings of her research recommend that an exercise program includes a mix of cardio, lower body strength, flexibility as well as posture, balance and gait training.


WECOACH Functional Training Simplified


Our program gets to the source of your pain or weakness so you feel good as you exercise and perhaps, more importantly, move and feel better in all of your daily activities.

What’s our secret?  It’s simple. Exercises should move the body in all natural directions.  Most exercise programs focus only on front to back.  If you’ve experienced knee pain and sought exercise to help, you’ve probably tried leg extensions, leg curls or squats.  The question is, did they work?  These exercises all have one thing in common – they move the body in a front to back motion.

This is a great place to start, but bodies are not one-dimensional, and muscles are not flat, so if you stop here, your training is incomplete.  WECOACH maximizes efficiency by using exercises that move the body in all 6 natural directions solving problems and preventing injury in a huge way!


Aqua Aerobics is Easy on the Joints


Many people who experience joint pain find comfort in the water. An environment for total body training with less joint stress, where you can build better balance, improve heart health and strengthen the body while staying cool!  Read more about the benefits of water exercise.     

In order to help reduce pain and help the legs become stronger and more flexible, it’s easy to take familiar water exercises like jogging, jumping jacks and balance reaches and enhance the benefits.  All you need to do is move the joints in 6 directions.

Typically a jog is paired with alternating arm reaches in a front to back motion.

So let’s apply WECOACH thinking and MOVE the arms in 6 DIRECTIONS. If you’ve been following my blog, then you’ll recall the 6 directions are front, back, right, left, right rotation and left rotation.


Jogging with Punching Arms


  1. Right arm forward, then left arm forward
  2. Right arm forward, then left arm toward the floor on the left side
  3. Right arm forward, then left arm sweeps across the body to the front right corner

Let’s break down what’s happening in each of these arm actions:

  1. As you reach forward, the upper body experiences some rotation.
  2. In the second arm pattern, as you reach toward the floor, feel the body bend to the side.
  3. In the last option, feel how you not only have rotation of the upper body with the sweeping arm, but you should also notice some rotation at the hip on the grounded leg.

So now you have integrated rotation of the upper and lower body into jogging.

In this example, you can feel how the arm reaches extend beyond localized arm stretching and strengthening. It can actually be used to create body movement of the trunk, knees and hips.

water exercise for knee pain


Research Says…


Flavia’s findings report the following tendencies by those who experience knee osteoarthritis:

  • Poor flexibility of both the affected and unaffected leg
  • Need to improve lower leg strength, especially of the hip abductors and quadriceps
  • Because walking is a most important functionality, gait training should be considered
  • Evidence of trunk instability affects posture and ability to do everyday activities

Here are a few of the exercises that are in my Water Exercise for Knees and Hips audio workout and Movements for Knees & Hips DVD along with some information to help you better understand why WECOACH is not just another workout program – and why our exercises deliver results!


Single Leg Balance Reach


Standing on the right.  Left foot reaches.

Standing on the left.  Right foot reaches.

  • Front to back
  • Right to left
  • Rotation right and left

Why?  As you do this exercise, feel what is happening on the standing leg.  Yes, we are getting some stretching to the moving leg, but the real target is the standing leg as we address the important need to improve flexibility in all natural directions.  The reaching foot should move in a comfortable range below the waist to really focus on improving flexibility and strength of the ankle and better ankle range of motion, which means better gait!



Jumping Jacks with Arm Swings


Begin with a traditional jumping jack – arms and legs moving together out to the side and return.  Next try these 3 arm variations:

  • Right hand only reaching front to back
  • Left arm only side reaching
  • Put them together.  Right arm forward, while left reaches to the side.

Repeat all 3 options with the left hand reaching forward and the right to the side.

Why? Just like the jogging exercise, the arm reaches will help improve arm strength, but can you guess what we’re really after?  If you said hip and core flexibility and strength, you’re absolutely correct! The out and in leg movements naturally improves abductor strength (especially if you cue focused effort as the legs move out).  The arm reach across the body not only helps get more rotational flexibility in the hip (important for walking), but it also helps improve core stability. A win, win, win, exercise!



Lunge Stance with Arm Reaches


Stand in a lunge stance with the right leg forward.  Then reach the left hand in 6 directions:

  • Front to back
  • Right to left
  • Rotation right and left

Repeat with left leg forward reaching the right hand.

Why? Having the legs in the grounded position allows for even greater lateral shifting and rotation to happen at the hips (which is often lost as people age).  As you reach the arm to the side, try sliding your hips away from the reaching arm.  My students with knee pain from arthritis say this is one of their favorites!


WECOACH Workouts


WECOACH is different. By moving the body in all natural directions, our exercises help get to the source of your pain or weakness for better results.

Exercises for Knees and Hips audio workout is ideal for backyard training or for groups that do not have the benefit of a live instructor. Buy individual workouts, or become a member for the full experience.

Laurie Denomme

Laurie Denomme

an exercise coach dedicated to helping you move better and be your best everyday.

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