Three types of exercises that are recommended for patients with knee osteoarthritis: flexibility, resistance and cardiovascular flexibility exercises. All three are very good for easing stiff joints which will help patients with their ADLs. It is recommended that the stretches be done in the morning. It may be easiest to perform them in warm bath water which eases the joint stiffness.
Resistance exercises are important to build the muscles around the arthritic joints. By building muscle it helps to absorb the shock and protect the joint from further injury. There are 2 types of resistance exercises: isometric and isotonic. Isometric are typically the most easy resistance exercise for the OA patient. The strengthening occurs with contraction of the different leg muscles without moving the joint.
Cardiovascular exercise uses big groups of muscles. The best recommendation for cardio fitness in the arthritic knee patient is water aerobics or cycling. The National Arthritis Foundation is a great resource for exercise DVD’s. A referral to the local physical therapist can also be helpful. I find my patients like the personal instruction and the P.T. also helps to maintain their technique.