Best Stretches for Arthritic Knees

Stretching can bring relief. According to the Missouri Arthritis Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (MAARTC), exercise keeps joints flexible, strengthens muscles, and improves overall fitness and your ability to do daily activities. Stretches also help alleviate joint inflammation during flare-ups. Here are the best ones to strengthen and soothe your knees.

Knee-to-Chest Curl
1. Lie on your back with your legs straight out and arms by your side.
2. Pull one knee up towards your chest. Use your hands to help pull your thigh close to your chest. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
3. Slowly lower your leg back to the floor. Repeat with your other leg. Do five to 10 repetitions.

Tip: Keep a rolled towel under your knees to reduce stress on your lower back.

Hamstring Stretch
1. Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched.
2. Slowly lower your torso by bending forward from your hips (not from your upper back or waist) and reach for your toes with your hands.
3. Stretch as far forward as is comfortable and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t bounce.
4. Return to a sitting position and relax for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Tip: Bending from your hips allows you to stretch further forward and helps prevent injury to your lower back.

Calf Stretch
1. Hold on to a chair or table for support.
2. Bend your left knee slightly. Stretch your right leg back behind you, keeping your heel on the ground. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
3. Bring your right leg forward and bend knee slightly. Repeat stretch with your left leg.  4. Bring left leg forward and relax for 5 seconds. Do 10 stretches for each leg.

Tip: If you feel pain in your lower back or tendon stop stretching.

Quad Stretch
1. Lie on your stomach with both legs outstretched and your arms down by your side.
2. Bend your right knee and slowly raise your leg back as far as possible. Grab your foot with your right hand. Hold stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
3. Lower your leg and repeat stretch with your left leg.
4. Relax for five seconds after each stretch. Do 10 reps for each leg.

Tip: You can also do this stretch standing beside a chair and holding it for support. Keep your tummy muscles tight during each stretch.

Inner Thigh Stretch
1. Sit on the floor with your legs apart at a comfortable distance.
2. Place your hands on the ground in front of you. Slowly walk your hands forward until you can feel your inner thigh muscles stretch. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
3. Slowly raise your torso back up. Relax. Repeat 10 times.

Stretching Basics
1. According to the Missouri Arthritis Rehabilitation Research and Training Center stretching and range of motion exercises performed at night reduce morning pain and stiffness.
2. Never stretch cold muscles. Warm up with a brief walk or bike ride, or apply heat.
3. Don’t bounce during stretches.
4. Remember to breathe when you’re stretching.