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This video is for adults with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. It is not for people who have had joint replacement surgery.
The following exercises are commonly used by people with arthritis to keep their joints mobile and relieve symptoms. They include range of movement exercises, which take their joints through full range, and strengthening exercises. However, these exercises may not be suitable for everybody. It's important to talk to your GP or physiotherapist before you start any new exercise regime. If you've had surgery to the affected area, it also may not be suitable for you to do these exercises. When doing the exercises it's important to follow each one carefully to prevent any injuries, and if any of the exercises cause you dizziness, visual disturbance or sharp pain stop immediately.
With some types of arthritis you can get flare ups where your symptoms become much worse or are more painful. It's important during these times to remain active, although you can continue with your range of movement exercises, the more strenuous parts of your exercise regime can be left until your symptoms subside.
Range of movement exercises
Range of movement exercises put your joints through their full range of movements. This helps to keep them flexible and supple and is important in strengthening joints. Try to do these exercises every day twice a day. Start by repeating them three times and gradually build up to 10 repetitions as your joint get stronger.
Sitting on a firm surface either the floor or a firm bed with your legs straight out in front of you, bend each knee in turn up to your hip, then slowly lower it back down straight again.
Strengthening exercises help to strengthen the muscles which move, protect and support your joints. They also help to make your joints more stable. Try to do your strengthening exercises twice a day every day. Start by repeating them three times and then gradually build up to 10 repetitions as your joint gets stronger.
Lie on the floor or on a firm bed, with a pillow or a rolled towel under your knees. Straighten each knee at a time by raising your heel, slowly turning the leg out. That's it, hold for three seconds and then lower slowly, that's great.
Pull your toes towards you so they point up to the ceiling and tighten the muscles above your knee. Hold and then relax. It's this muscle here that's important to work. You can also do this exercise standing up.
Lying down or standing, place a pillow or a rolled up towel between your thighs and squeeze it, tightening your buttocks as you do it.
Push your knee flat into the floor or bed and raise your leg into the air to a comfortable height. Lower slowly, and then keep your legs straight throughout the exercise. This exercise may be more comfortable if your other knee is bent with your foot flat on the floor.
Standing with your back against a wall and your feet approximately 20 centimetres away from the wall, tighten your thigh muscles and slide a small way down the wall. Hold this position for three seconds and slide back up.
The following two exercises are also good if you have arthritis in your hips as well as your knees.
Lying on your stomach with a rolled up pillow or towel underneath your hips, draw back the lower stomach towards your spine first. Then squeeze the buttock muscle of the leg that you are raising, keeping the knee straight raise it just two to three inches off the bed. Hold for three seconds and down slowly. And again.
Lying on your side, cross your top leg over your lower leg putting your foot on the floor. Lift your lower leg up, hold and then lower.
This video is intended for general information only. It shows an example of one persons' experience. Your circumstances may be different so not everything may apply to you. It does not replace the need for personal advice from a medical practitioner.
This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. For more details on how we produce our content and its sources, visit the About our Health Information page.
Release date: January 2009
Bupa Knee Clinic
Injured your knee or have a long term knee problem? The Bupa knee clinic can help you find the information and support you need.