How to adventure with arthritis

Learn how to adventure with arthritis because you don’t have to stop all of your adventures! Adventures look so different for everyone and we are here to help you keep them alive. Whether it’s hiking, skiing, biking, or just being there for your family or grandchildren we are here for you.

how to stop limping with arthritis

How to stop limping with arthritis: 3 key movements to master

Limping with arthritis can occur because your body is trying to spend as less time on your painful leg as possible. This is common when experiencing hip, knee and/or ankle osteoarthritis. When you begin to favor one side, your movement begins to change. This can actually lead to more arthritis pain, muscle tightness and other impairments secondary to changing the way you move. There is good news though! You can become more confident with simple movements. 

If you find yourself limping or favoring one side because of arthritis pain, it can actually lead to more arthritis pain. I know that if you’re reading this right now, more pain is not your goal.

There are ways that you can actually build more confidence on your painful side so you are able to walk and stand easier and with less pain. 

First, we’re gonna talk a little bit about why limping happens and why we start favoring one side, and then I want you to stay till the end, because we’re gonna go through some simple movements that you can do to help to address.

If we haven’t met before my name’s Alyssa, I’m a doctor of physical therapy and I have made it my mission to bring you hope and to show you the best tips and tricks on how to make adventure possible with osteoarthritis.

The goal of this article is to show you there is hope to improve your walking and to actually enjoy it again! 

limping with arthritis

Why limping happens

When we first talk about limping with arthritis, essentially what happens is your body starts to limp or starts to favor one side because it wants to protect your leg and spend as less time as possible on that side.

Limping with arthritis can begin to happen because of a few reasons: 

  • strength deficits are present
  • anticipation of pain
  • instability, meaning your body does not trust that leg

In order to reduce limping, it is important to build strength and stability in the hip, knee, and ankle.

Once you begin to feel more confident in putting weight through the painful side, your muscles, tendons, and ligaments are able to finally work together and support your joints how they are meant to. The idea is to move as symmetrically as possible as that is how your body was made to move.

Movements to prevent limping with arthritis

You can follow along in the video above to see visual demonstrations of these movements. 

The best place to start working on movements when limping is a problem, the kitchen counter is my favorite.

Using stable support can help to offload the leg and reduce fear of instability and/or falling, especially if you feel like your leg is going to give out or that you may lose your balance.

If you find yourself limping, it may be difficult to put your full weight on the leg you are experiencing difficulty with. The kitchen counter or another supportive surface can do wonders in helping you build confidence.

When setting up for these movements, it is important to have support either in front of you- holding on with both hands or opposite of the painful side like in these pictures below.

limping with arthritis

1. Multi-directional stepping

This is one of my favorites to help build confidence and reduce limping with arthritis. The ultimate goal is to build up stability on the leg that you don’t trust at this time. 

Putting all of your weight on one side can be hard to accomplish at first so choose one of the best supporting positions for you, as explained above. 

You will put all of your weight on one side and with the other side, you’ll step forward, sideways then backwards. 

I usually recommend starting using support then try to progress away from it as you’re able to.

 

Now, if you are trying this and you’re getting a lot of shoulder movement or you’re feeling pain on the side that you’re standing on, use the two handed set-up shown in the earlier picture in the article. 

Aim to complete 8-12 full repetitions on each side. One repetition= forward, sideways, and backwards.

2. Modified single leg balance

The next movement is starting to work towards balancing all of your weight on one side. 

It is common that if you experience limping, you may have difficulty putting all of your weight on one side. 

This specific balance exercise can help you to get your leg, particularly your hip used to accepting all of your weight and using your muscles appropriately for stability. 

Use a surface like a box, a step, or a cone like in this video. Lightly place your foot on the object and try to transfer most of your weight to your back foot. 

First try to stand stationary- using your back foot to keep you grounded. Feel the muscles in your hip fire to keep yourself upright. 

If you find you are having difficulty maintaining your balance, lightly touch a surface such as a chair or a kitchen counter for support. 

Only add head turns once you are able to master standing stationary without support for at least 15-20 seconds. 

3. Front foot elevated lunge

The next step once balance is mastered is to work on single leg strength. There are many different ways build this strength but this is an example many of my clients have liked. 

Traditional lunges can create some pressure in the knees so this variation can help to reduce that while challenging your hip and thigh strength. Here is a post about 9 other ways to build thigh strength. 

If you are limping with arthritis, there’s a chance there is a strength asymmetry somewhere. For example, if you typically favor your right side- you may notice that side becomes weakened. There are some instances though where the opposite side may show more weakness so we can’t always assume the side you are having pain on or favoring is the weaker side. Solution? Work each side evenly! 

Use support if needed and complete 6-12 reps on each side depending on your fitness level and how difficult the exercise feels.

How to be successful

With these movements above, the key is consistency in order to reduce limping with arthritis.  Completing these everyday or every other day is a great place to start depending on how your joints react. Make sure to listen to your body and take rest breaks when needed.

Consistency over the next 3-4 weeks may help you begin to notice a difference. Some people will notice it quicker than others so it’s important to stick with it! 

The key to reducing limping with arthritis is to build confidence and stability on the side you typically favor and make strength as symmetrical as possible.

My main mission with Keep the Adventure Alive is to show you how to adventure with osteoarthritis. That means how to get back to traveling, how to play with your grandkids, how to even just walk around the neighborhood with friends, walk longer, distances, run errands, whatever it.

I want to show you that you can actually do these things with osteoarthritis because it’s possible!

I have a free webclass that walks you through the exact steps you need to get started in order to make adventuring with osteoarthritis possible.

This webclass is called the “3 Secrets to Adventuring with Osteoarthritis” and so far has helped hundreds of people get started on a pain relief journey.  You will learn more about the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint- the signature online program that has helped hundreds of people accomplish things like squatting, being able to get up and down from the floor, and even to avoid surgery.  

limping with arthritis, walking
arthritis adventure blueprint

Learn more and sign up for the webclass below:

arthritis adventure blueprint

The Arthritis Adventure Blueprint

Dr. Alyssa Kuhn’s signature program to help you go from hopeless to hopeful with osteoarthritis. You will learn the secrets to arthritis pain relief that actually work- including exercise, diet, and other ways to control inflammation! Say goodbye to short term pain relief, it’s time to make it last.

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this post, video or site. Complete all exercises at your own risk.

how to sleep better with lower back pain and knee pain

How to sleep with lower back pain, knee pain, and other arthritic aches: 5 best strategies

Learning how to sleep with lower back pain, knee pain and osteoarthritis in other joints can be critical when it comes to finding pain relief. Poor quality sleep can actually increase your sensitivity to pain. But getting better sleep may feel easier said than done right now. Learn 5 strategies on how to sleep better with osteoarthritis in this article. 

This article contains affiliate links that provide us with a small compensation if purchases are made through our links at no extra cost to you.

Do you experience osteoarthritis pain or stiffness at night? Does joint pain wake you up or make it difficult to fall asleep?

If you’re wondering how to sleep with arthritis pain in the knee or even how to sleep with lower back pain- you are in the right place.

Sleep is incredibly important, especially when you have chronic joint pain related to osteoarthritis. Here are a few reasons why: 

  • Moreover, getting less than or more than optimal sleep duration of 7–8 h has been associated with increased levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) (Park et al 2019)
  • There is strong evidence that having short or disturbed sleep can cause hyperalgesia (i.e., an increased sensitivity to painful stimulation) and the development or exacerbation of spontaneous pain symptoms (e.g., muscle pain, headache) (Haack et al 2019)

You're not alone

I was talking with an Arthritis Adventure Blueprint member recently who was dealing with occasional knee pain at night. This pain would wake her up at night and make it difficult to fall back asleep.

One important thing I told her and frequently tell many others experiencing pain at night is to think about the day that you just had and maybe even the day prior. Did anything change?

Did you try a new activity? Did you move more or less than you usually do? Did you eat certain foods you don’t normally? 

When she got to thinking, earlier that day she realized she had significantly increased her activity. She had set an alarm to help her remember to get up every 20 minutes. This was significantly more movement than she typically does.

When it comes to movement, your joints need time to get used to more of it. Sudden increases in activity can be one way to irritate your joints, especially at night. 

There may not always be an obvious reason as to why you might be experiencing pain at night. When looking at how to sleep with lower back pain and other arthritis aches, it’s important to know what can lead to increased pain so you can work to prevent it. 

Let’s look into the 5 strategies on how to prevent arthritis pain when sleeping. You can also follow along with this video below: 

How to sleep with lower back pain and other arthritis aches: 5 strategies

There are ways to combat night pain and stiffness so you can get better sleep, even with arthritis! 

If you have been told you have degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis or have been dealing with chronic back pain these strategies can be very helpful. 

If you’re reading this and have knee osteoarthritis, hip osteoarthritis, or other joint aches/pains these strategies can work for you too! 

As a physical therapist, I have helped hundreds of people with osteoarthritis find pain relief both during the day and at night. I have found one common factor that typically leads to the highest success. That is…taking ACTION. 

Focus on one or two of these strategies below to get started with: 

1. Avoid Overdoing it

Just like in the example explained above, overactivity can be one of the leading causes of pain at night in my experience.

If you heard movement can actually be helpful for exercise, it may lead you to think that the more movement you do, the better you will feel.

This is not always the case. Taking the example above, if you are relatively sedentary- suddenly trying to increase your movement significantly, may actually leave you in more pain. 

You have to give your joints time to get used to moving more

What are some ways you can prevent overdoing it?

For the example discussed at the beginning of the article,  setting an alarm instead for every hour, may be much more manageable when starting out. It may also lead to less pain at night. 

Another example when looking at how to reduce lower back pain at night specifically could be- avoiding a sharp increase in activities that require bending over like gardening or those activities that require lifting- i.e packing up and moving boxes.

There are absolutely ways to help train your body to tolerate these activities to help reduce irritation. You can also consider activity pacing. Instead of weeding the whole garden in one day, you can split it into sections. 

Here is a video below discussing how to know if you are overdoing it and prevent it from happening. 

2. Make sure you're moving enough

I know it may seem contradictory to number one, but it’s all about balance. This can be one of the toughest aspects when dealing with pain from osteoarthritis. It’s important to be aware of how much activity is too much for your joints but also what is not enough.

Movement is crucial when it comes to finding pain relief, especially at night. How much you move during the day can dictate level and presence of some night pain. 

First it’s important to understand why movement is good for arthritic joints in the first place. Here is an article detailing the benefits. 

Secondly, finding movements that don’t flare up your pain is really important, for obvious reasons.You likely aren’t going to be jazzed about doing movements that increase pain nor will you likely be consistent. 

But I promise you, movement can be so powerful when you find the right ones. They don’t have to be complicated. 

Moving frequently can help to keep stiffness at bay and can help to reduce irritation significantly both during the day and at night.

how to sleep with knee pain
sleep better with arthritis

If you want to skip ahead and start making a change to your pain right now, the free 4 Day Arthritis Friendly Workout Challenge equips you with follow along workouts that are arthritis friendly as well as other helpful pain relieving strategies. Find out more below. 

A good rule of thumb to start with is making sure you are moving every 1-2 hours- whether that’s getting up and moving around or completing simple seated movements. 

If you spend a lot of time sitting throughout the day or on your feet in one position, this can increase your pain at night. Motion is lotion

3. Heat and/or ice

One of the common questions I get is “what is better, heat or ice, for arthritis pain?”

The answer, it depends largely on your personal preference. I do find anecdotally, most people have more luck with heat, especially with chronic pain. 

One study examined the benefits of heat on those with knee osteoarthritis in particular. Findings are detailed below. 

"It was found that heat application every other day decreased pain and disability of the patients with knee osteoarthritis. Also, heat application was found to improve the subdimensions of quality of life scores of physical function, pain and general health perception of patients"

Yildirim et al 2010

It is thought that heat can help to contribute to muscle relaxation while improving blood flow. When it comes to osteoarthritis, muscles can get tight as a response to pain and can become irritated, especially at night. 

In learning how to sleep with lower back pain and other arthritic aches, muscle relaxation can be very important. 

Ice on the other hand is thought to “numb the pain, decrease swelling, constrict blood vessels and block nerve impulses to the joint (Brosseau et al 2003).

Ice tends to feel better when dealing with significant levels of pain and/or swelling. 

Both can be effective in different ways, so ultimately it comes down to personal preference and what your body seems to respond best to. 

Using either right before bed can be helpful in reducing arthritis night pain. But, PLEASE don’t fall asleep with either on in order to avoid any burns or other reactions/injuries. 

4. Topical Ointments

Topical pain relieving ointments can be effective at reducing pain, especially at night. The good news is most of these topical ointments have significantly less side effects than most pain medications. 

There are many different brands and types of these but here are some common ones that can be helpful. Please remember everyone will respond differently to each one of these so you may need to try a couple before finding one that works for you.

These are just a few examples and other brands certainly exist. CBD creams are another avenue people typically have luck with too if they are available to you. 

It is important to check with your doctor to make sure the ingredients in these products won’t interact with medications you are taking or other medical conditions you have.

With a topical cream, there is always a risk for a reaction such as a rash so it is important to try the cream during the day to make sure you don’t have a reaction before trying at night. 

Most of these creams work if you rub on or near the joint(s) or muscles that are most painful but please use as the cream directs. 

5. Controlling your pain during the day

I know this one, you may be saying “well duh, that would be great if I could do that!” But hear me out. 

A lot of different people I talk to who are dealing with osteoarthritis pain, try to push through high levels of pain specifically during movement because they are told they “have to exercise” and it makes sense more is better. 

Sometimes, you may not have a choice in reducing movement, i.e if you have to stand or walk all day for work. Using one of two strategies to reduce pain severity and/or frequency can help to reduce night pain. 

Here are some articles that may help depending on what is flaring up your pain: 

  • Night pain after traveling? Try this to reduce stiffness on the plane or in the car.
  • Walking on concrete all day? Take a look at this article discussing the best shoes for the job. 
  • Lacking variety in your movement? Read this article for simple tips on how to include it.
  • Know your diet could use some cleaning up? Learn the best anti inflammatory foods here! 

Using the other strategies discussed and taking action when it comes to your pain can be one of the best ways to get better sleep. 

The progress may be slow and steady but monitoring pain levels to see if severity or frequency of pain is decreasing is a great way to show it. 

I’m by no means saying controlling pain is an easy feat but there are ways to help make it possible. Hope these suggestions can help you get on the right path! 

How to sleep with lower back pain, knee pain, and other arthritic aches

Following these five tips above can give you a great start towards reducing arthritis night pain. 

Each person is going to have a different experience with pain as well as different triggers. 

It’s important to try to identify what is flaring up your pain. It may not always be straightforward and there may be multiple things contributing. But understanding what can increase pain may be a good start. 

If you want more information on how to control osteoarthritis pain and lead an active life without surgery- listen to the free webclass below. You’ll learn the Three Secrets to Adventuring With Osteoarthritis! 

References:

Brosseau L, Yonge KA, Robinson V, Marchand S, Judd M, Wells G, Tugwell P. Thermotherapy for treatment of osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;2003(4):CD004522. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004522. PMID: 14584019; PMCID: PMC6669258.
 
Yildirim N, Filiz Ulusoy M, Bodur H. The effect of heat application on pain, stiffness, physical function and quality of life in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Clin Nurs. 2010;19(7-8):1113-1120. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2009.03070.x
 

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this post, video or site. Complete all exercises at your own risk.

arthritis adventure blueprint

The Arthritis Adventure Blueprint

Dr. Alyssa Kuhn’s signature program to help you go from hopeless to hopeful with osteoarthritis. You will learn the secrets to arthritis pain relief that actually work- including exercise, diet, and other ways to control inflammation! Say goodbye to short term pain relief, it’s time to make it last.

Follow me on social media here:

kneel down with knee arthritis

How to build strength to kneel down and get back up with knee ARTHRITIS: top 5 Movements

Yes, it is possible to kneel down and stand back up with knee arthritis! If you prepare your joints in the right way and get them used to kneeling on the floor, it can actually start to become easier while decreasing the associated pain. As a physical therapist, I have helped hundreds of people get started on the path to getting up and down from the floor. Now it’s your turn! 

This article contains affiliate links that provide us with a small compensation if purchases are made through the links at no extra cost to you.

It is possible

One woman I worked with avoided getting on the floor for years because she believed she wouldn’t be able to get up and she anticipated pain.

It was always such a pain when she dropped something and had a difficult time picking it up. She also wasn’t able to get on the floor with her grandchildren either. 

She was scared to kneel down because she was afraid her arthritic knees would become very painful and swollen. So she avoided it all together.

After working on her strength using movements her knees actually liked and becoming confident in her knees again- we tried kneeling. She was shocked at how easy it felt and when she stood up, she said, “wow that actually didn’t hurt!”

IMG_0638

What I want you to know is that it is POSSIBLE.

Before she was able to do this, she had a hard time with stairs and was limping when she was walking. 

She did the work and was consistent which opened doors to being able to kneel down with ease and without fear.

Research even shows that after a total knee replacement, “There is no biomechanical or clinical evidence contraindicating kneeling after TKA [total knee arthroplasty]”. 

Wait can I kneel down if i'm bone on bone?

I know you were thinking it…😏

It is very possible to learn how to kneel if you have been told you are bone on bone

Another woman I have been working with was originally told she was bone on bone in her right knee and surgery would be inevitable. She began her journey here because she knew there had to be another way. 

She has worked extremely hard and diligently through the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint and attends the weekly exercise classes (learn more here).

She started off with limited knee range of motion and pain putting her weight on her right side with her knee bent. 

Over the course of about 8 months, she has improved her knee tolerance, strength, and confidence to kneel down and get up from the floor even without support! Check out her progress below.

I want you to know it isn’t always a quick process but once you’re on the right track it can definitely be worth it. 

kneel down and stand up

Kneel down 101- What you need to master

In order to be able to kneel down and stand back up you need to master a few things: 

  1. Decreasing knee sensitivity
  2. Feeling strong on one leg 
  3. Knee bending range of motion 

Each of these are necessary before trying to kneel down as it may not feel very good with sensitive knees that aren’t as strong as they could be.

Let’s talk about what I mean by each one briefly.

Decreasing knee sensitivity

If your knee is very sensitive, meaning it has high levels of pain or is painful to the touch, kneeling and getting back up may not be feasible right now. 

Kneeling down of course requires pressure on the knees. This pressure isn’t inherently going to cause “more damage” nor is it going to harm the knee. 

But, it may in fact cause more pain which is not ideal. In order to get your knees ready for kneeling, you first have to understand that kneeling itself is not a dangerous activity. 

Then, using a variety of different strength movements, you can help your knee get used to the pressure. You can also try first kneeling on softer surfaces like a bed or a couch to get your body used to the movement. 

Other tools like compression sleeves can come in handy when decreasing knee sensitivity, more on those here.

Feeling strong on one leg

This is important for lowering yourself down and helping to get yourself up from the ground.

If you feel “uneven” or feeling stronger on one side compared to the other- this is critical to focus on. You want to work to get comfortable putting all of your weight on one side.

When getting up, most of your weight is put through one leg like in the small video above. Of course, you can use stable furniture to help get up but you will have to push up primarily with one leg. 

There are so many different movements to help you get stronger on one leg which we will discuss later in this article. 

Knee bending range of motion

If your knee does not bend to at least 90 degrees (a right angle) it is going to be hard to both kneel down and get back up.

Working to make sure you can at least bend your knee to 90 degrees will help you get more comfortable with kneeling to the ground and standing back up. 

You will see examples below on ways you can  increase your knee range of motion to allow you to bend the appropriate amount.

How to get better at kneeling down- where to start

Here are my top 5 movements to show you how to master getting on the floor and standing back up.

It will take consistency. It will take hard work. How much would it mean to you to finally be able to get on the floor without worrying about pain or if you will be able to get back up? 

I usually recommend trying for 3 consecutive months. That’s 3 times per week for the next 12 weeks in order to start to see longer lasting progress.

Choose 1-2 of these exercises below to focus on first. The movements you choose should make you feel good. 

Keep reading to find out the top exercises you can do to get started. 

1. Knee bending

Like discussed above, in order to kneel down, having the appropriate knee range of motion is important. 

This is one movement that can help to challenge both knee bending and knee straightening in a way that is typically nice to the knee.

Don’t force the range of motion. Start in a range that feels comfortable and you may start to notice it gets a little easier as you go on. 

Start with 5-8 reps of these on each side.

2. POWER BANDED SQUAT​

In order to get up from the ground, you have to be able to generate strength pretty quickly. This is one of the MAIN reasons why getting up from the ground is hard

Think about it, with osteoarthritis you are usually told to slow down and may have noticed you move with hesitancy. You may have a hard time walking fast and feel yourself really having to work hard to keep up with family or friends.

Activities like stairs, walking faster, running, and sports like tennis require you to generate strength quickly, also called muscular power. 

This power banded squat requires a small, loop resistance band. They are very inexpensive but can be so helpful! 

The goal is to stand up fast and sit down slower. This exercise challenges muscular power which can help you stand up from the floor. 

Keep repetitions lower when starting to make sure your knee will respond okay. Try for 1-2 sets of 5-8 reps.

If this is painful, please refer back to this post for more squat modifications. 

3. Lateral Step Up

A lateral step up challenges the leg muscles especially in the hips, differently than a forward step up does. 

Your hip muscles are especially important when it comes to lowering yourself to the ground but also when it comes to standing back up.

The lower the step you use, the easier it will be. I recommend using this step stool to start as it is lower than most traditional steps. Use support as needed. 

The goal is to complete 1-2 sets of 8-10 reps to start on each side and progress from there.

4. Reverse step up

This exercise works to get your knee used to a little more pressure but actually can feel pretty good! 

You will want to start with a very low step. Many times, typical stairs found in homes are too high to start with this exercise. I do recommend this step stool to use as it is adjustable. 

If you start too high, you may experience pain and discomfort. 

If this is painful, I would recommend trying a forward step up if you are able to, on a similar height step stool. 

5. Front foot elevated lunge

The lunge can have a bad reputation when it comes to knee pain but there are modifications that can make it feel good! 

Lunges are important to challenge all three variables listed above and are incredibly important in helping you kneel down. 

If you raise your front foot up onto a step and take a big step back with your other foot, you may be surprised how these feel.

The idea is to bend both knees like someone is pushing your head straight down instead of pushing your front knee forward. 

If this is painful, you can try a supported single leg squat to still help target the necessary muscles without flaring up your knee(s). 

In this video below, you will find more advanced exercises on how to continue to master kneeling down and getting up from the floor even with knee arthritis.

Conclusion

It is possible to kneel down and get up from the floor even if you have knee arthritis. The goal is to master these movements above that address knee bending, single leg strength and knee sensitivity. 

Start with 1-2 of these movements and progress as you are able to and as your knees allow. Pushing into significant pain is NOT recommended and the “no pain, no gain” mentality can actually prevent you from progressing. 

Remember, this takes time and not all progress may be perfect. There may be setbacks but just remember, it is possible! 

If you aren’t reaching the goals that you want to and/or you looking for other ways to stay active despite osteoarthritis  check out my free webclass: Secrets to Adventuring with Osteoarthritis

I created this webclass as I hear from so many that they are feeling overwhelmed about where to start and how to manage their osteoarthritis pain without surgery and pills. Sign up for free below to watch! 

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this post, video or site. Complete all exercises at your own risk.

arthritis adventure blueprint

The Arthritis Adventure Blueprint

Dr. Alyssa Kuhn’s signature program to help you go from hopeless to hopeful with osteoarthritis. You will learn the secrets to arthritis pain relief that actually work- including exercise, diet, and other ways to control inflammation! Say goodbye to short term pain relief, it’s time to make it last.

walk longer distances arthritis

Arthritis of the knee? 5 ways to walk longer distances so you can adventure

If you have arthritis of the knee, walking longer distances can become quite the challenge. If you have a trip coming up, want to return to neighborhood walks with your friends or  walk around Costco, this article is for you. As a physical therapist I often find people are commonly missing important movements in their training. To become better at walking, the answer is not just more walking. Let’s see why.

What walking requires

When you are walking, you are asking each of your legs to accept your full bodyweight over and over again. You also have to be able to bend your ankle and knee to push off to the next step. 

If you are unable to put all of your weight on one leg you may see why walking may be hard. 

If you have arthritis of the knee, that can impede the bending and straightening of the joint. Your leg may also have a heaviness feeling that makes it hard to lift.

If you have had a history of an ankle or foot injury or have osteoarthritis in either joint- it can also make walking hard. 

Walking longer distances also requires stamina. If your muscles fatigue too quickly and you get tired, you may be putting more stress on your joints causing irritation, thus pain. 

As you can see, walking does require different pieces in order for you to be successful. This also explains why simply more walking may not help if you are lacking range of motion, muscle strength, and/or stamina.

How to get better at walking with arthritis of the knee

Walking is something that is vital to most of our lives. If you are limited in the distance you can walk, you may notice it becomes harder to do a lot of things. For example, a simple trip to the grocery store is no longer “simple”. OR you may have to say no to going on a trip because of the walking it may include. 

In order to keep your freedom to roam around how you please, you have to do a few things to keep your joints happy. 

This video below will give you an introduction into how to get better at walking longer distances. 

There are certain things you have to keep in mind when trying to improve your ability to walk longer distances, with arthritis of the knee to boot. 

I do want to tell you it is possible to accomplish. You can get better at walking! See below for a powerful example:

how to treat knee arthritis

You can sign up for the free 4 day program she is talking about here

Once your joints are prepared in the right way, doors swing open to what you can accomplish. 

5 ways to walk longer distances with arthritis

Walking requires 5 things in particular that I will discuss in more detail below.

These are common things that most people miss and can actually hold you back from accomplishing your goals. 

1. Putting your weight on one leg

It is imperative for you to be able to stand with all of your weight on one leg if you’d like to get better at walking. 

Don’t worry though, if it is painful right now to stand on one leg, there are ways to build up to it! 

If you currently walk with a limp, one of the reasons could be that your body doesn’t trust you to be on one of your legs for a longer period of time. Instead, it tries very hard to keep you off that leg. 

Say if you are limping every time you take a step with your left leg. Your body wants to spend as less time on that leg as possible and more time on the right. That’s why it makes the step short and you have to then compensate with the right leg. 

In order to get better at this though, there are a few things you can try. 

For example, you can try this exercise below called multi-directional stepping. Feel free to use a chair or other stable support to offload bodyweight and for extra stability. Complete 5-8 total reps each side and practice a few times per week! 

2. Joint mobility

As I mentioned earlier, how your joints move can dictate how you walk. For example, commonly with arthritis of the knee- you may notice stiffness and/or pain limits range of motion. 

If you aren’t able to straighten one leg all the way- you may notice a limp or feel like you are “waddling”. This is because the leg that you aren’t able to straighten now is technically shorter than the other. The imbalance can then cause a limp. 

It is important to make sure your knee can bend and straighten to full range of motion if possible. If you don’t currently have full range of motion in straightening, here is an example of a movement that can help with that: 

Try to complete this exercise for 2-10 minutes depending on comfort level. It should not increase pain significantly.

The ankle joint was mentioned above as well. Your ankle and toes needs to bend enough that you are able to push off from your toes and propel yourself forward. See the two pictures below for reference.

arthritis of the knee

If your toes, primarily your big toe is stiff whether from a previous injury or surgery, you may notice your foot turns out a little bit with each step. This can impact the distance you are able to walk because it is not a normal loading pattern for the joint. 

If your ankle is stiff, you may feel like you are shuffling or aren’t able to clear your foot from the ground. If your foot slaps the ground and you feel as though you don’t have control over the lowering, you could have what’s called a drop foot.

In order to keep these joints moving as optimally as possible especially if having to walk up hills, here is one exercise below that can help. Please note this is meant to feel good. If any of these exercises cause significant pain- this might not be the exercise for you. 

3. appropriate balance

Balance is incredibly important when it comes to walking. This is because when you are balancing, all of your muscles are working together at once to support your joints and keep you upright. 

If you tend to lose your balance, you may have some muscles that aren’t working as optimally as they should. Find out more on balance here

If you have arthritis of the knee, you may notice that your balance isn’t as great as it once was. This is because pain can impact balance. 

But, the good news is it can be improved upon! 

Once you improve your balance, your muscles likely will be able to help support your joint like they should. 

You may also feel less instability and more confidence when walking longer distances.

Improving balance with arthritis of the knee is totally possible! Here are a few of my favorite balance movements in this video below.

4. Stamina

Think about how long you would like to walk for. Maybe it’s 10 minutes, maybe it’s an hour or more. 

In order to build up the stamina to do so, you have to make sure your joints can support you for that length of time

For example, I was recently talking with someone who was dealing with knee osteoarthritis and was trying to train for a trip she was taking in 2 months. At the time, she could only walk about 0.5 miles before her pain became limiting. 

She felt she had reached a plateau. She was doing some movement for exercise but wasn’t seeing much improvement in the distance she could walk. 

After further digging, her typical exercise routine lasted for about 10 minutes per day

Don’t get me wrong, moving consciously for 10 minutes per day is helpful but if you have aspirations of walking 30+ minutes, it is important to start working towards that goal! 

This is by no means stating you should just bump up from 10 to 30 minutes right away. It needs to be gradual so you don’t experience a flare up. Typically this is usually about a 10% increase but may vary person to person.

Here is one workout below that is about 30 minute but can start to push your stamina. Listen to your body and rest as needed. You can also split the video up into parts you complete on separate days if needed! 

5. Confidence

One of the biggest components of walking longer distances is building confidence, especially with arthritis of the knee. 

I know it may be easier said than done. But it is important to make sure you are on the right path. 

Research has actually shown that if you believe you have the ability to accomplish or perform a task, also known as self-efficacy, it can have a positive effect on both pain and physical activity levels. 

If you don’t believe you can do a certain task or that it is even possible, it can negatively impact your motivation and your confidence. 

One way to build confidence is to make sure you are taking the appropriate steps to accomplish your goals. This is why I have created a free webclass on the 3 Secrets to Adventuring with Osteoarthritis. You’ll learn how to control your pain and make adventure possible again. 

arthritis of the knee webclass

How to be successful

In order to reach your walking goals with arthritis of the knee, it is important you follow the explained steps above. 

It is imperative to know that you need to listen to your body to avoid overdoing certain activities. Pain is a way our bodies communicate with us. 

It is also important to challenge your body. The right amount of challenge can help you to unlock your goals and accomplish amazing things. 

I want you to know what is possible and how to get there. Cheers to your adventure! 

arthritis of the knee
hope for exercise with arthritis (2)

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this post, video or site. Complete all exercises at your own risk.

quad exercises for strength

9 Quad exercises for strength you need for healthy knees recommended by a physical therapist

You may have heard quad exercises for strength can be helpful for knee osteoarthritis relief but it can be hard to find the best exercises that don’t make your knees angry. Why is quad or thigh exercise strength so important? Why do you feel weaker if you have knee osteoarthritis. It’s time to find some answers to these questions! 

This article contains affiliate links that give us a small commision if you purchase through our links without any extra cost to you.

Through the research and likely from your own personal experience, you may have noticed that quadriceps (thigh muscle) weakness tends to coincide with knee osteoarthritis and the symptoms involved.

Your thigh muscles are responsible for straightening your leg. For example, when you are standing up from a chair, you are trying to straighten your legs- hence your quads are working hard every day!

Why is quad strength so important when discussing knee pain? Let’s take a look at the research.

"The significant association of quadriceps muscle strength with knee pain remained after adjustment for age, BMI, gender and knee OA...The quadriceps muscle is the principal dynamic stabilizer of the knee joint; thus, quadriceps muscle weakness leads to instability of the knee, which may be one of the reasons for knee pain"

Muraki et al, 2015

As you can see, quad muscle strength can actually be correlated with knee pain severity. On average, less muscle strength can be a contributor to higher pain levels in patients knee osteoarthritis.

The thought process then is, increase quad strength and decrease pain.

How to increase quad strength

There are a few ways you can increase the muscle strength of your thighs. 

Exercise is a clear first solution that can help you build strength and what this article is about. 

I did want to mention another way to increase muscle strength which is actually managing knee swelling. Swelling can make it harder for muscles to contract how they should. Here’s what the research says: 

"Swelling is known to trigger the spinal inhibitory mechanism of quadriceps motor neurons, and to reduce muscle activity, thereby decreasing proprioception"

Kim et al, 2018

This is basically a way of say that swelling can interfere with processes that are crucial for the muscle to contract how it needs to. 

Controlling swelling can be another way to help you make strength gains with knee osteoarthritis. One way to do that is with compression sleeves. I have a blog post on those here.

The best quad exercises for strength from a physical therapist

There are lots of exercises out there claiming they can help you build the strength of your thighs. Some of these though, may not bring you as much benefit as you think. 

So which quad exercises for strength should you focus on? Which are the best to get started with? 

As a physical therapist and osteoarthritis specialist, I have treated hundreds of people with knee osteoarthritis and have found these exercises build strength without flaring up pain

Even if you don’t have knee osteoarthritis- these exercises can be extremely helpful towards feeling strong.

These exercises are set up in a progressive fashion, starting with the easiest and working up in difficulty.

Table of Contents

1. Seated Knee Extension

According to a research study, this exercise had one of the higher rates of contractions in your quads compared to some other exercises like a leg press in the gym (Jakobsen et al. 2019)

All you need is a longer resistance band, my favorite set here, and a chair.

The idea is to do enough repetitions where you start to feel fatigue in the muscle but this doesn’t equate to pain. This exercise is not meant to hurt. 

I would recommend also trying another variation to increase the difficulty and quad muscle activation.

You can always modify by increasing/decreasing the resistance using a different color resistance band.

This is one of the better quad exercises for strength to start with, especially if you are new to exercise or are dealing with higher levels of pain. 

Complete 10-20 repetitions and repeat 2-3 times as able.

2. Straight Leg Raise

In the research study I just mentioned, this straight leg raise did show a little less quadriceps activation than some of the other exercises it was compared to (squats, leg extension). I did include it though because it is easy to do at home and usually doesn’t flare up pain.

In this video I am sitting on the ground but you can absolutely do this on a couch or a bed. I do have a video to help you get up and down from the ground though 🙂

The goal is to sit up as straight as you can against a stable surface like a wall, bed frame, chair/couch arm, etc. This helps to cut out the hip flexors and focus more on the quads.

You may experience a muscle cramp when first trying it but shaking your leg out and stretching can help. That means this is an exercise you should work on! 

The goal is to complete 5-8 reps on each side, holding for 3-5 seconds if you can. If you aren’t able to hold at first, just lift it up and down for the same amount of reps. Complete for 2 sets as able.

3. TRX Squat

Sit to stands can be one of the BEST exercises for thigh strength. This is because it is a movement you have to be able to do but also requires you to move your entire body weight from a lower range of knee bending.

If you have knee osteoarthritis, squats can be difficult (here’s more on why). TRX or suspension straps can be a great way to add support so you can move through the full range of motion without flaring up pain. You can find my favorite set here. 

Of course, squats are a major part of the list of quad exercises for strength so here is the first modification. 

If you aren’t experiencing pain, these TRX straps can still be useful! The chair is optional when completing.

Try for 10-15 reps here, going as low as you feel comfortable with. 

4. Stomp Chair Squat

Next on the list is another chair squat variation but it adds a little more impact and speed. This is one of my favorite exercises because it is a quad exercise for strength but also gets your heart rate up! 

If you have osteoporosis, or are over the age of 50- you may be more at risk for your bones weakening. If you have osteoarthritis you are also at risk for osteoporosis (podcast episode on that here).

This exercise helps to get a little momentum with standing up. I find this particularly helpful if you have a hard time standing out of a low chair. 

Try for 10-15 reps and see how it feels. If it feels fairly easy- you can move onto the next one! 

5. Goblet Squat

I couldn’t make a list of the best quad exercises for strength without including the goblet squat. A goblet squat is another squat variation where you add some weight and keep it close to your chest.

This of course has lots of flexibility in difficulty based on the weight you choose. I typically start clients out on the conservative side of a 5 lb kettlebell, especially if newer to exercise.

Here is an article that shows more information on kettlebells if you’re interested.

Start with 5-8 repetitions and increase the weight as you are able. Since you aren’t able to use your hands, make sure you are standing from a surface height that you don’t need to use your hands for.

Here is my favorite kettlebell. I have an article here that shows other simply yet effective things I recommend to include in a home gym. 

6. Medicine Ball Squat Toss

This exercise is another squat variation but adds both speed and resistance. These medicine balls weigh varying amounts and can make it easy to modify or progress the exercise.

I also have clients who use pillows or other objects to throw as well. What this exercise does is focus on quad power, meaning you have to contract your quads quickly to stand up then throw the object in the air. Here is one of my favorite medicine balls to use for this because it is easier if they are soft.

For this one, focus on standing up as quickly as you can and launch the object a couple feet in the air, catch and repeat.

Try to complete 10-15 of these, using a bench behind you is optional but can be helpful if you have knee pain.

7. Supported Single Leg Squat

This single leg supported squat is next up in the progression of quad exercises for strength. Once you have mastered a chair squat, this is the next step. The one-legged squat has some of the highest quadriceps activation but it can be difficult to complete at first.

This is a modification I use ALL the time and highly recommend mastering. This exercise is also helpful when it comes to stair climbing as well. 

Start on a higher sitting surface and put one foot in front of the other. The further out the front foot is, the harder this exercise will be. Complete 8-10 repetitions on each side and complete 2-3 times as able. 

8. Weighted Single Leg Supported Squat

This exercise is very similar to above but now adds weights into the mix. You do want to make sure you can do at least 20 reps without pain or swelling before starting to add weight. 

I usually recommend starting with two 5lb weights to start, up to 10lb weights as you’re able. 

With weights, typically it is normal to reduce the number of repetitions, especially as the weight increases. 

9. Tempo Squat

Lastly, mastering a slow squat without support can be one of the best quad exercises for strength. 

This exercise adds an extra component of eccentric strength. This means you are working the muscle as you are lengthening it on the way down to the bottom of a squat. 

This eccentric control can be very helpful when it comes to going down stairs and hills. 

If you notice knee pain during this exercise or significant difficulty with it, you can go back to any of the above exercises and continue building strength to work up to this one. It can be quite challenging.

The goal is to aim for 5-6 reps, making sure you are in control. 

What it comes down to...

The best quad exercises for strength are the ones you will do consistently. Strength takes time to build and requires a commitment around 3-4 days per week for at least 2-3 months to see significant progress.

There are lots of different ways to challenge your thigh strength but these can be some of the best when getting started. 

If you are looking for a program that provides follow along workouts as well as other ways you can manage osteoarthritis and inflammation all in one place- I highly recommend the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint to help you get started towards pain relief.

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this post, video or site

References:

  1. Jakobsen, T. L., Jakobsen, M. D., Andersen, L. L., Husted, H., Kehlet, H., & Bandholm, T. (2019). Quadriceps muscle activity during commonly used strength training exercises shortly after total knee arthroplasty: implications for home-based exercise-selection. Journal of experimental orthopaedics6(1), 29. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40634-019-0193-5
  2. Kim, D., Park, G., Kuo, L. T., & Park, W. (2018). The effects of pain on quadriceps strength, joint proprioception and dynamic balance among women aged 65 to 75 years with knee osteoarthritis. BMC geriatrics18(1), 245. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-018-0932-y
  3. Muraki, S., Akune, T., Teraguchi, M., Kagotani, R., Asai, Y., Yoshida, M., Tokimura, F., Tanaka, S., Oka, H., Kawaguchi, H., Nakamura, K., & Yoshimura, N. (2015). Quadriceps muscle strength, radiographic knee osteoarthritis and knee pain: the ROAD study. BMC musculoskeletal disorders16, 305. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-015-0737-5
     

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arthritis adventure blueprint

The Arthritis Adventure Blueprint

Dr. Alyssa Kuhn’s signature program to help you go from hopeless to hopeful with osteoarthritis. You will learn the secrets to arthritis pain relief that actually work- including exercise, diet, and other ways to control inflammation! Say goodbye to short term pain relief, it’s time to make it last.

joint pain after flying

Joint pain after flying? 5 Steps to prevent joint stiffness on an airplane

Is the worry of joint pain after flying or long travel times holding you back from going on your next trip? With osteoarthritis, joint stiffness can be one of the most frustrating symptoms, especially when you have to sit for prolonged times with limited opportunity to stretch. It can make getting up and walking very difficult once you reach your destination. There are 5 remedies you can use to prevent stiffness on an airplane so you can take that trip you have been longing to take! 

This article may contain affiliate links that give us a small commission if purchases are made through the links at no extra charge to you.

When sitting in the same position for >30-60 minutes, joint stiffness can become a real problem if you have osteoarthritis. So you can see why an airplane may present some difficulty. 

Having to hobble off the plane with increased pain doesn’t sound the most appealing…

But what if there was a way you could keep stiffness at bay so that you can enjoy your time and keep up with the rest of your group to baggage claim? 

The good thing is the 5 things I am going to share with you are relatively simple to do but can bring a world of difference when it comes to arthritic joints. 

joint pain after flying

Preventing joint pain after flying

joint pain after flying

One of the best ways to prevent joint pain after flying is to make sure you keep stiffness under control. Joint stiffness can increase joint friction which can lead to more pain. Your legs may also feel very heavy when walking which can make getting around difficult. 

Here are 5 things you can do when on an airplane to keep osteoarthritis pain and stiffness at bay. 

1. Foot movement

I know, I know, there isn’t much room to move on an airplane. But, there are some creative ways to keep your joints moving. 

Movement is incredibly important when it comes to preventing excessive joint stiffness. Your muscles act as pumps to help blood flow which it turn can keep those inflammatory cells moving. The goal is to avoid those inflammatory cells from residing in places they shouldn’t be. 

These cells love when you don’t move. They get to nestle in and get comfortable- making your joints feel like cement blocks. This can lead to joint pain after flying due to the increased friction these cells can cause. 

The most important joints to move are your feet and ankles. This is because with gravity, most fluid in your body is pulled down into your feet. This is why swollen ankles can be a problem after a flight. 

Especially if you are at risk for blood clots, you don’t particularly want blood and fluid pooling in your calf. 

One of the easiest ways to move your feet and ankles is to do a simple heel raise + toe raise in a sitting position. This helps work your calf muscles and pump the fluid out of your lower legs. 

Another way to get creative with this is to change the position of your feet. If you point your toes out and bring your heels together, this is another way to complete a heel + toe raise as it will work some different muscles. You can also try to point your toes together and take your heels apart but this position can be a little more difficult depending on your mobility. 

Complete 10-15 reps of these every 15-30 minutes. If you have a higher risk for blood clots or have quick onset joint stiffness, the more frequent you are moving, the better. 

See an example on instagram here.

2. Changing leg positions

joint stiffness after flying

If you have the option to put your bag up in the overhead bin, I usually recommend doing so to increase the leg room that you have. 

If you sit for a prolonged period of time with your legs in the same exact position, it is likely your knees and hips will feel stiff. Ideally, changing leg position at least every 30 minutes can help to reduce stiffness. 

For example, if you switch from straightening to bending your legs, your knees will probably feel so much better. You can even take it into an exercise of simple straightening and bending repeatedly for a few repetitions. 

Make use of the room you have in front of you as much as possible to prevent joint pain after flying.

Here is an example of a follow along seated exercise video that can give you some other ideas. 

3. Compression socks

With a history of ankle swelling and/or blood clots, you might already have compression socks from a doctor. Compression socks can also help with joint stiffness and joint pain after flying too. 

A compression sock is a fairly tight sock that comes in a range of lengths from above the knee to above the ankle. This sock helps to reduce the amount of fluid that is allowed to collect in your lower leg(s) and helps to pump it back to the rest of the body. 

You can get compression socks over the counter, they don’t need to be prescribed. Here is my favorite pair you can order from Amazon. Sometimes, these socks can be really tough to get on but this pair is usually a little easier. 

It is very common to wear compression socks on airplanes due to the significant effect of gravity and the limited opportunity for getting up and walking around. 

There are some that also go above the knee which can help with knee swelling as well if you experience that during a flight as well. 

4. Pre flight warm up

Now, you may get a few weird looks but doing a pre-flight warm up can totally be worth it. Adding some simple movements and stretches, preferably in standing can help to keep your blood flowing and reduce the risk of severe joint stiffness. 

I like to think about doing movements that help to work muscles that you aren’t able to work when sitting. For example, moving both sideways and/or backwards can help to activate the hip muscles that you are usually sitting on aka your glutes. 

You could simply step side to side or take forward and backward steps to use this muscles. You can also kick sideways or backwards while holding onto something. I recommend doing about 20-30 repetitions each direction or until you feel muscle fatigue.

You can also move your joints through ranges of motion you cannot do when sitting. For example, standing and bending your heel backwards towards your bottom or sitting in a figure 4 position are helpful, permitting your mobility. 

Even if you only have a few minutes, try to stand and move in different ways. The more muscle movement you can get, the better. 

If you are looking for some other ideas for arthritis friendly movement, head to the free 4 day Arthritis Friendly Workout Challenge that is jam packed full of different movements that will make your joints feel good.

Here is an example of  a lower body warm up you can use.

5. Avoiding salty, inflammatory snacks

Trust me, I love the Southwest chex mix just as much as the next person. But it’s always kind of shocking how airlines tend to give out the saltiest snacks to it’s sedentary passengers! 

I could really get behind passing out fruit or something else of actual nutritional value but for now, we have to make due. 

Packing healthier snack options ahead of time can help to keep joint stiffness at bay. Salt makes it much easier to retain water which can lead to swelling and/or stiffness. 

To prepare for and find the best snacks that will be nicer to your arthritic joints, I have this guide here that gives you 31 arthritis friendly snack ideas so you can stock up before your flight. 

If you already know that you are sensitive to certain foods or respond fairly significantly to salt- pack ahead so you aren’t tempted. 

Staying hydrated is also very important as long as you aren’t on specific fluid restrictions for another condition. 

Dehydration can lead to increased blood pressure, fatigue, and other adverse symptoms you likely do not want to experience on a flight. 

Conclusion

It is possible to fly and adventure with osteoarthritis. Knowing the best ways to reduce pain and stiffness are key, especially when in situations that make movement difficult. 

Keeping stiffness and swelling at bay during a flight makes walking to baggage claim and standing and waiting more tolerable. It can also help to reduce joint pain after flying.

I know there isn’t much space but these 5 ways are the best ways to get creative so you can make the best of it. 

The muscle strength you are able to build beforehand also will help you feel more limber and more mobile! 

If you want to read next how to prepare your knees to walk longer distances, head to this article.

Planning a trip soon?

The best way to prepare for a trip if you have osteoarthritis is to make sure you are strong, well balanced for those uneven surfaces, and have stamina to keep up with everyone else.

Finding the best ways to do this without flaring up your joint pain can be really difficult to do. Luckily, I have created a step by step process for you to follow to help you adventure. You will learn the best ways to tackle stairs, to reduce pain and inflammation, what foods to eat, and strengthening movements that are proven to work.

joint pain after flying

This step by step process has worked for hundreds of people with knee, hip, back, and ankle osteoarthritis and can help you bring adventure to life. 

Learn more about the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint here.

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this post, video or site.

help for stiff joints

Get rid of stiff joints so you can adventure in 3 simple steps

Stiff joints are frustrating, especially if you are trying to be active but instead you find yourself having to hobble around. If you have osteoarthritis- stiff joints may be one of the most limiting symptoms you face. Whether it’s in the morning, after you’ve been sitting or standing for a while, or even after exercise. So what is the best way to combat joint stiffness? Let’s take a look.

Stiffness can creep up and can limit you from walking, climbing up/down stairs, and simply just moving around your house. 

It is common with osteoarthritis to feel stiffness relief after about 15-30 minutes of doing some simple movements described in this scenario below:

stiff joint testimonial (2)

Do you feel like you have to hobble the first couple of steps and feel unsteady because of it? 

In the morning, stiffness can be the worst. 

But there are a few things you can do to combat stiffness and make it less severe.

As a physical therapist and osteoarthritis specialist, I had treated hundreds of people with osteoarthritis. I have seen stiff joints reduce to minor stiffness that is no longer limiting so it is possible

It think it is vital to first understand why joint stiffness happens so the solutions can make more sense.

I have found that the more you understand, it makes it easier to follow through with certain interventions. Then, your stiff joints will be thanking you! 

Why your joints get stiff

Joint stiffness occurs with osteoarthritis due to the changes that have occured to the joint space and cartilage. 

I found one way that explains it really well and it is called the “gelling phenomenon“. I think this offers an awesome way to think about why stiff joints happen in the first place. 

So what is the gelling phenomenon? It is described as a thickening of the fluid in the joint with prolonged immobilization. 

Think about wax or butter. The more you heat it, stir it, and keep in moving- it remains more viscous. The longer it sits stagnant, the thicker it becomes. 

gel phenomenon osteoarthritis

Think about your joint in the same regard. The longer you’re stagnant, the more friction your joints encounter when you try to get up and move. The fluid in between the joint becomes thicker.

This happens with increased levels of inflammation. Levels are higher in arthritic joints because of lifestyle factors as well as a very complicated pathophysiology of the condition itself.

The goal is to find ways to keep the fluid viscous- to keep it thin and mobile. The more mobile your joint fluid is, the easier movement will become. There are 3 main ways that you can do this. Learn more below. 

3 simple tips to combat stiff joints

The stiffer your joints the harder movement becomes. In order to keep stiffness at bay, it is important to make sure you are moving and keeping inflammation levels down. 

I have boiled it down to 3 simple steps to get started with to make it as approachable as possible. Small steps are key to finding success and making it last.

Most importantly, I’d like you to know what is possible when you have the right steps to follow: 

stiff joint testimonial
stiff joints success

I want you to know before you read this that there is hope! 

As a caveat, when looking for progress when it comes to stiff joints, think about it in terms of severity and frequency. Is your stiffness less severe and does it happen less frequently. This will help to show more progress than the terms of stiffness or no stiffness. 

1. Gentle but frequent movement

In order to help your stiff joints, you have to move. Your joints thrive on movement. Here is more on the benefits of exercise for osteoarthritis. 

When your joints become stiff, think about trying to warm up the wax or the butter we just talked about. 

Many times stiff joints come on after sitting for a while, especially if you have to sit for work. The same can go for standing though too. If you are standing in one position for a longer period of time, you may also experience stiffness. 

Gentle but frequent movement can really help to keep your joints lubricated, especially your knees, hips, and ankles. For example, if you are sitting, alternating positions that your legs are in from straight to bent can be really helpful. 

I have a post that shows you simple movements you can easily do sitting in a chair that can help to combat stiffness that you can read here.

The goal is to complete movement every 10-15 minutes if possible. This could be as simple as kicking your leg out straight a few times.

If you set an alarm it can be really helpful to become more consistent. 

I know movement isn’t always possible due to limited space like when on an airplane but there are ways to get creative in this post.

2. Walking around

Changing positions from sitting to standing and then from standing to walking can be crucial in helping to fend of stiff joints

Completing the gentle movements from number 1 and then going for a short walk can be extremely effective. Think about adding in different movements though too. Let me explain. 

If it is hard for you to step away for a short walk, simply standing at a desk or at a counter and sidestepping in place can be magical. Or even taking a few steps backwards can be really help. 

If forward walking does irritate your joint(s) or cause pain, trying to add in movement in different ways can actually feel surprisingly good! 

I have a full post here about how to add variety to an in home walking routine that could be very helpful in giving you ideas on how to move.

3. Controlling inflammation in other ways

The more inflammation your body accumulates, the more stiffness you will feel.

Inflammation comes from a variety of different things including foods, stress, poor sleep quality, inactivity, excess fat mass, and others. These are the ones that are primarily in your control. 

Of course you also have history of previous injury and genetics that play a part as well but aren’t in your control.

One of the biggest things I recommend is to start with food as it can make a noticeable impact. It can be pretty overwhelming to know where to start though.

I have a post here to show you the best anti inflammatory foods to get started with. You can also watch this video below: 

Another thing that can increase the thickness of the joint fluid and lead to more stiffness is dehydration. Hydration plays a significant role in reducing the severity and frequency of stiff joints.

One common question I get is if sparkling water counts towards hydration as well as regular water does. This article from UW Medicine is helpful in explaining what the research has found that, sparkling water can be just as hydrating as regular water.

If you are already incorporating a wide range of anti inflammatory foods and drinking enough water, it is possible your inflammation is stemming from another cause. 

In order to find out what is driving up your inflammation levels as well as learning what you can do to reduce can be an overwhelming journey. 

I have compiled the most common drivers of inflammation I have seen as well as developing action plan to help you finally reduce pain and stiffness inside the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint

Conclusion

I think understanding why stiffness happens is the most important first step in figuring out the ways to combat it.

You now know that keeping the joint fluid as viscous as you can is extremely important. This can primarily be done through gentle but frequent movement, walking in place or going for a walk, and finding other ways to reduce inflammation.

Now, you have the first three steps to combat stiff joints. Without getting started on your journey, you will never know your true potential. 

It’s time to get started on helping your joints feel good! 

stiff joints osteoarthritis

Take this as your sign that pain relief and stiffness relief are both possible. Let’s get started today. 

arthritis adventure blueprint

The Arthritis Adventure Blueprint

Dr. Alyssa Kuhn’s signature program to help you go from hopeless to hopeful with osteoarthritis. You will learn the secrets to arthritis pain relief that actually work- including exercise, diet, and other ways to control inflammation! Say goodbye to short term pain relief, it’s time to make it last.

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this post, video or site.

osteoarthritis knee pain

3 simple steps to squat with osteoarthritis knee pain from a physical therapist

It is possible to squat even with osteoarthritis knee pain. In fact, it’s something you NEED to learn how to do in order to use the bathroom, get in your car, get up from a chair, and many other tasks. As a physical therapist, I know squats can be painful but after helping hundreds of clients through knee pain, I want you to know that it is possible to squat again and actually even enjoy it! Here are 3 simple ways you can start squatting again without severe pain. 

This article contains affiliate links which provide us with a small compensation if purchases are made through these links at no extra cost to you.

I first started seeing this client below for knee pain that just didn’t seem to go away no matter what she did. 

Stairs became hard and she dreaded squats because of the pain. 

After getting started with the three simple steps listed below- she actually likes squats now because she can feel her muscles working without any increase in pain 😍 

Don’t get me wrong, it takes work. It takes consistency and dedication to these movements I am about to show you. 

But, look at how smooth she is and how easy it is for her to stand! 

What would it mean to you if you could finally squat without severe pain?

I’ve realized that so many people with osteoarthritis knee pain are told to avoid squats and then they begin to fear them. I recently received this comment from one of my followers and wanted to let you know that you are not alone if you were told that or are feeling fearful.

knee arthritis pain squats

Biggest problem i see as a physical therapist

Squatting can be painful for a variety of reasons, you can learn more about them here.

One of the biggest problems I see when someone tries to squat with osteoarthritis knee pain is they lead with the knees. 

Think about it, try to squat just freely. What bends first? Likely your knees do. 

Now, if you stand in front of chair, and squat down to the chair- notice what bends first…likely your hips! 

The first step in learning how to squat is teaching your body to do it differently- this is, of course, the hardest part as you likely have had many reps of squats over your lifetime. Learning a new way to do it may feel weird. But, the reward is very powerful.

You can see a more in depth video below on this common mistake: 

Step 1: Learn to hinge

First things first, you have to learn how to use your hips more than your knees. This is because your hips are much stronger and able to handle more stress. 

If you try to squat and move your knees first, you likely aren’t using your hips very much. This can also be a reason why you feel like you can’t squat down very low. 

The good news is the hinge is perfect, even if you are currently in osteoarthritis knee pain. It usually feels good on the knees! 

Here is a video below on what the exercise should look like. Ideally, you will feel a stretch in the backs of your legs. 

This one is important to learn how to squat because it teaches you how to use your hips. This is the first part of the squat movement.

Complete 12-20 of these 2-3 times per day as long as it feels good! 

Step 2: Get comfortable sitting your hips back

Now that you’ve felt what it’s like to sit your hips back first, now let’s practice! 

There are two ways of doing this exercise that I will show you below. 

This first one is using a stable stair rail or a kitchen counter works great too. Grab on and sit your hips back so most of your weight is in your heels. 

Go down only as far as is comfortable when starting out and increase depth as you start to feel more confident. Aim for 8-10 reps when getting started, 2-3 times per day, making sure it still feels good.

The second option is similar to the first but uses a different piece of equipment. I want to preface this exercise with the fact that this is one of my FAVORITE pieces of equipment when it comes to exercising with clients who have osteoarthritis.

These suspension straps can be so helpful when it comes to learning how to do movements by making them less scary

This type of squat still offers support so you are able to use your hands to help you as you learn how to squat. 

Same rep scheme goes for this exercise. Complete 8-10 reps, 2-3 times per day as able. 

You can find more TRX suspension strap exercises here.

Step 3: Remove the support

The next step is to remove the support. Now you have gotten more comfortable in this position, now it’s time to move on. 

Starting out, find a surface that is high enough for you to be able to stand from relatively comfortably. Use pillows or cushions to raise the surface if needed.

Think about leading with your hips and sitting back. The goal is to be able to accomplish 8-10 reps without severe pain, relatively easily before you lower the surface. 

Make squats possible with osteoarthritis knee pain

You don’t have to avoid squats for the rest of your life just because you have osteoarthritis. It is possible to be able to get up from chairs and the toilet without significant difficulty and/or pain. 

Following these steps are a great place to start. Please note that these may not work for everyone so if you are experiencing difficulty- there are tons of other ways to learn how to squat! Here is a video of 10 other modifications you can try. 

If you’re ready to try more workouts that will be nice to your arthritic knees, you can join in on the FREE 4 day Arthritis Friendly Exercise Challenge below:

If you want to take the fast track to relief and want to get started right now– I highly recommend joining the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint. You will get access to 10 progressive, follow along workouts that give you step by step instructions on how to move better despite osteoarthritis. 

Take it from one of our members in the course to find out what is possible. 

how to squat with knee arthritis
knee arthritis breakthrough
knee osteoarthritis success

My main mission is to show you that you can do this. That you can adventure with osteoarthritis. I want you to finally feel hope and encouragement instead of frustration and confusion.

I’m so glad you’re here and I wish you the best on this journey. 

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this post, video or site.

inflammation reducing foods

15 Amazingly Simple Things You Need to Know About Inflammation Reducing Foods & Habits in 2022 From the Experts

Inflammation reducing foods could be the missing link in your arthritis relief. Osteoarthritis pain can actually stem from low grade chronic inflammation which explains why food and movement can have such a positive impact on pain and stiffness levels. There is lots of information out there, it can be hard to weed through it all.  Here are the 15 Rock-Solid ways to reduce inflammation and finally feel good! 

This article may contain affiliate links which give Keep the Adventure Alive a small compensation if purchased from one of our links with no extra cost to you.

Below are 15 ways to help find osteoarthritis relief without surgery including inflammation reducing foods, supplements, weight loss and other lifestyle changes that may surprise you!

Eliminating inflammation is the first step towards feeling healthy and living your best life, especially with arthritis, so let’s get started! 

Table of Contents

1. Learn to love onions

Okay so if you don’t like onions, there is still hope! Onions are a part of a family called the Allium family. This family includes: chives, garlic, and leeks too. The Allium family packs a punch when it comes to healthy superfoods. 

According to Dr. Ann Kulze, as well as the Arthritis Foundation, onions and their counterparts can help to reduce cancer risk, improve bone density, and can actually have an anti-inflammatory effect. 

One flavonoid found in onions, called quercetin, has been shown to inhibit inflammation-causing leukotrienes, prostaglandins and histamines in osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), reduce heart disease risk by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol and help prevent the progression of cancer.”

It turns out, yellow and red onions are the best but others have varying degrees of effect. As an inflammation reducing food, this is one that you want to start including in meals if you haven’t already. You can easily do this in salads, sandwiches, vegetable stir frys, and more! 

2. Treat yourself to dark chocolate

Wait, so you’re telling me dark chocolate is actually good for inflammation?!

Yes, that’s correct! If you are looking for a treat and you are dealing with arthritis pain or high levels of inflammation, dark chocolate can actually be beneficial. 

Findings from two studies being presented today at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego show that consuming dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao (minimally 70% cacao, 30% organic cane sugar) has positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immunity.”

As an inflammatory reducing food, dark chocolate can help to not only contribute physically to arthritis pain, it can also improve your mood! We know that high levels of stress and anxiety tend to further irritate our already overactive nervous system. 

Next time you are searching for something sweet, instead of going for the ice cream or candy- grab yourself a dark chocolate bar. This is my FAVORITE brand (get 15% off with code adventurealive).

But remember…moderation 🙂

3. Get familiar with the superfoods

In a podcast interview with Dr. Ann Kulze discusses the inflammation reducing superfoods. Not shockingly these foods are those that are whole foods and don’t include any processed foods. 

These foods are primarily plant-based and include foods like fruits, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, oily fish, and more.

You can check out the full list of the BEST anti-inflammatory foods for free below!  It may be best to print this list out, keep it in the kitchen, hang it on the fridge or keep a picture on your phone that you can look at when grocery shopping.

Working on including these superfoods into daily life is a great first step when trying to get inflammation under control, lose weight, and reduce osteoarthritis pain/stiffness

 

4. Think about fish oil

Before we get into this, always make sure you consult your doctor first before starting any supplements because they can interact with certain medications. 

According to Dr. Ann, there is a hierarchy of supplements when it comes to reducing inflammation and fish oil is near the top.

This one is common and usually necessary if you are not eating oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel etc at least 3 times per week. These foods contain long-chain omega 3 fatty acids that are hard to find in other foods. 

Long chain omega-3s are some of the vital building blocks in the processes that help to reduce inflammation.  But, when searching for a fish oil supplement they aren’t all created equal.

She advises “Choose high-quality fish oil supplements – look for ‘pharmaceutical grade’ or ‘molecularly distilled’ when purchasing.” You can use ConsumerLab to help you decide which ones are the highest quality. 

5. Get your levels of vitamin d checked

It has been found that upwards of almost 50% of people in the US are deficient in Vitamin D.

Oftentimes, people think they get enough vitamin D from the sun but it turns out there are some things that can prevent vitamin D from getting into our bloodstream. These include things like sunscreen, clothing, obesity, diabetes, and others.

Typically done through a blood test, your doctor can very easily check your levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in overall health such as bone density, brain health, immune function, and even inflammation reducing.

Talk to your doctor to see if your vitamin D levels are low. If they are, you could be experiencing signs and symptoms including fatigue, brain fog, inflammation, increased joint pain, among others.

A supplement of vitamin D may be appropriate if you are deficient. According to Dr. Ann, “a blood level between 40 ng/ml to 50 ng/ml is a good target range”.

According to Consumer Lab, these are approved forms of Vitamin D: Webber Naturals® Calcium Citrate Vitamin D3, Garden of Life® mykind Organics Vegan D3 2,000 IU, and Nature Made Vitamin D3.

6. Combination supplements for "Joint health" may be a waste of time

There are always new supplements hitting the market especially targeting those with arthritis and chronic pain. Popular ingredients these tend to contain are glucosamine, chondroitin, turmeric, among others.

Since supplements aren’t federally regulated, there is always a degree of skepticism of if they actually contain what they say they do. 

One recommendation Dr. Ann suggests is to check with ConsumerLab. They review all kinds of different supplements for quality and publicly post the information. 

These types of supplements should be in combination with inflammation reducing foods and a regular exercise routine. These should not be taken as your only defense against inflammation because they will not be effective. 

These joint combinations are one of those things that if you take them for a few months and you notice a change in pain, keep taking them. If you don’t notice a change, don’t waste your time with them. 

7. Turmeric is one of the most powerful inflammation reducing spices

Some take this in a capsule but Turmeric is one of the most powerful spices when it comes to tackling inflammation. This spice can work wonders for the human body because of the phytochemicals found in it. 

Turmeric is not only great for arthritis and other chronic pains, it also is magical for the brain. Adding a few dashes to food can make a profound difference on inflammation. If you are not a fan of it, you can also take it in a capsule form but make sure you talk to your doctor first.

Not sure which one to get? Many have found the Jellybee Turmeric gummies to be helpful to their joints. 

Please keep in mind, supplements can be effective for some and ineffective for others. Most are relatively inexpensive so I usually recommend trying a supplement, once cleared by your doctor for 3-4 weeks to see if you notice a change. 

Here is also an example of a smoothie that you can use turmeric spices in! 

8. Mother nature's sugar is not bad

Fruits are some of the top inflammation reducing foods out there. Many times we demonize all types of sugar but according to Dr. Ann this sugar is one of the necessities. There are some fruits that are more beneficial than others including: apples, citrus, berries, cantaloupe, and kiwi to start.

Now processed sugars on the other hand, we should stay away from. High fructose corn syrup is one of the main culprits. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “What’s even worse, Dr. Hyman notes, is high doses of fructose “punch little holes in your intestinal lining, causing what we call a leaky gut.” He explains that this allows foreign food proteins and bacterial proteins to enter into your bloodstream, which triggers inflammation, makes you gain weight and causes type 2 diabetes”

Natural sugars found in fruits are totally fine especially if you have arthritis. You want to try to consume at least 3-4 servings per day for optimum results. 

9. Vegetables should be your friend

Vegetables can provide vitamins, nutrients, and other anti-inflammatory properties especially for those struggling with osteoarthritis. It’s no secret vegetables are good for us but they are also a part of inflammation reducing foods group. 

Focusing on dark green leafy vegetables is key. Dr. Ann recommends broccoli sprouts, best ate raw. She loves adding them to salads to get her daily intake. 

Ideally, we want to get at least 4-5 servings of vegetables per day. One of the recommendations is to begin slowly adding more vegetables to your meals, i.e replacing typical dinner side from noodles to broccoli. Small wins can make all of the difference.

If you want to know the other foods that are a part of the inflammation reducing foods group, download our free ebook here.

10. Understand the power that food holds

Understand that you have the power to manage your inflammation, manage your arthritis pain, and manage your weight by what you are putting in your mouth. 

If we continue to be complacent with what we are putting in our bodies, we aren’t accepting responsibility for our health. 

The only way you will see positive changes in arthritic joints, overall mood, weight, and sleep quality- you have to change something. As Dr. Ann says, the greater the change you make, the greater the change you will see on the other side. 

Realize that you are holding the power.

11. inflammation reducing foods don't work alone

Food has one of the biggest impacts on our inflammation levels. What you are feeding your body up to 12-18 hours a day can make a dramatic difference on inflammation and therefore arthritis pain. 

Food is only one piece of the puzzle. The interesting thing, though, is when you eat healthier, you are more likely to participate in other healthy habits. This includes regular exercise, positive self-talk, and social engagements.

One of the most important things that works in conjunction with healthy eating is positive exercise routines.

Our bodies are meant to eat plants and move. So we have to do those things in order to live a healthy life.

There are some things that are out of our control but keeping these two things in line can dramatically reduce our risk for LOTS of chronic diseases.

Need a place to get started? I highly recommend this 4 day Arthritis Friendly Workout Challenge. 4 days, 4 workouts to show your joints they can actually move without pain! Learn more below:

bone on bone knee pain success

12. There is a right type of exercise

Not all exercise is created equally, especially when dealing with arthritic joints. Exercise should not cause you significant pain if you are doing the right type of exercise. 

When we have arthritis it is important to make sure we are keeping our joints healthy. Contrary to popular belief, you are able to run, hike, bike, and do high impact activities like jumping with arthritis

Shocking right?! 

In order to continue to do these things or return to doing these things, it is important our joints are prepared.

Walking is a common form of exercise for those with arthritis. BUT If you are solely walking for exercise, there are potentially lots of other muscles you are neglecting that you might not even know! Walking isn’t inherently bad but variety is key to success with osteoarthritis- check out what you should be doing below.

13. A professional that listens to you can catapult you to success

It can be hard in the traditional medical system to find a healthcare professional that takes the time to listen to your concerns about inflammation and osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, most of the time we are told “no running, no jumping, lose weight, and exercise” and sent on our way. 

The problem is, most of the time, these general guidelines don’t lead to success. There is no plan. Without a plan or accountability, adherence can be really hard! 

At Keep the Adventure Alive we listen to your stores, we listen to your goals, and show you how to make them happen. 

For example, running is one of the first things that is ruled out with knee osteoarthritis which can be devastating, especially to those that love it. High impact activities like jumping are a close second.

Through Keep the Adventure Alive videos and the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint, people with osteoarthritis have been able to get back to running, enjoy hiking again, and tackle stairs again! 

So often I find people end up stuck on a path trying to figure out what they can do. This is because most of what you typically hear is what you can’t do.

My main mission is to inject positivity and optimism into your diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Your life doesn’t have to end as you know it. With the right plan, dedication, and accountability- your dreams and goals can still come true. 

inflammation reducing foods
inflammation
staying active with arthritis

14. Action is key

If you don’t take action, your inflammation can become a real problem. Not only with more arthritis pain but other chronic disease such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, increased stroke risk, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.

If you are currently on a path where you find yourself in pattern of eating foods that aren’t good for you and not moving or exercising, this path can be dangerous. 

In order to thrive with optimal health you need a combination of inflammation reducing foods, a regular exercise plan, and a positive mindset. 

That’s where the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint comes in. This is a step by step blueprint to give you each step forward as you make your way towards arthritis pain relief and adventure.

Too often I see people that wait too long to take action. The longer you wait, the deeper the hole is you have to try to climb out of. It’s time to take action today. Learn more about the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint below.

arthritic hip groin pain relief

15. Believe you can do this

If you firmly believe that you can change your habits, you will. If you go into diet changes or new exercise programs with the mindset “this isn’t going to work”- it won’t. 

There has been so much research that you can reduce inflammation- you can change our arthritis pain. You don’t have to live in pain or in poor health just because you are 50, 60, etc. 

In this society, we tend to be reactive to our health. We wait until our pain is so severe or our health is so out of control before seeking help. Instead, the most success comes to those who are proactive. Understanding how to prevent chronic disease will allow you to lead a long, healthy, adventurous life. 

You can do this.

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this video or site.

Dr Alyssa Kuhn walking backwards

Walking Backwards: New Answer For knee Arthritis Sufferers Who Want To Lead A Happy, Active Life in 2022

What if simply changing the direction you are walking could actually REDUCE your arthritis pain? It can be as easy as walking backwards! A recent study showed that “a 6-week retro walking program compared with forward walking or control groups resulted in greater reduction in pain and functional disability and improved quadriceps muscle strength and performance in individuals with knee [osteoarthritis].” If you love walking, this is great news, especially with knee osteoarthritis. Let’s dive deeper into why walking backwards is so good for you.

When is the last time you walked or even ran backwards? I’d have to imagine it has been awhile. Maybe the last time was at a soccer practice 40 years ago😜

If so, fear not. Walking backwards isn’t typically something we do in our daily lives. But, I just had a 93 year old patient master walking backwards. You can too. 

Why all this talk about walking in reverse? 

There has been a multitude of research studies looking at the benefits of moving backwards compared to forwards. What they have found is actually kind of amazing. That simply changing one thing about your walking can open up an amazing opportunity for arthritis pain relief.

Why walking backwards over forwards: the muscles

The difference between walking backwards and walking forwards can be boiled down to one main thing: which muscles are working

If you are somewhere where you can stand up, do me a favor and start walking forwards. Notice which parts of your feet hit the ground first. Typical walking is heel contact then toe contact to push off.

Forward walking tends to put more force through your knees and low back because the heel is contacting first, seen in this picture below.

walking backward for knee pain

Now, try to walk backwards. Notice how your feet change. Your toes hit the ground first followed by your heels.

An article in Prevention states, “When you walk backward, the ball of your toe strikes the ground first, which distributes the shock over a greater surface area and leads to a softer impact.”

According to Hyun-Gyu Cha et al. 2019, “backward walking has less impact on the kneecaps and patello-femoral joints as the metatarsal joints come in contact with the surface first.” This means that if you tend to have pain in or around your knee caps, you may experience less pressure thus less irritation!

What’s also interesting is that your thigh muscles actually work harder when walking backwards. Thigh muscles are incredibly important when helping to stabilize and decrease irritation of the knee. Stronger thighs are one of the major keys to overcoming knee osteoarthritis. Find out everything you need to know about knee osteoarthritis here.

Research has shown that walking backwards actually activates more muscles than walking forwards does. Why is this important? You can actually burn more energy and calories walking backwards! 🔥

walking backwards for knee pain (2)

Here are real people with osteoarthritis who are incorporating walking backwards into their routine. It is worth a try if you have arthritis pain that doesn’t seem to be going away.

Balancing Backwards

If you tried walking backwards while reading above, you likely noticed it feels a little strange. Maybe you felt like you were even going to lose your balance. This is totally normal.

When you try new exercises and new ways of moving, your body needs a little bit of time to learn the movement. Walking backwards does actually help to improve your balance though. An added bonus! 

One of the surefire ways to improve your balance is to introduce variety into your training routine. Constantly doing the same exercises over and over again doesn’t challenge your body.  Your body won’t have to work as hard.

You will reach a point where your body is used to the movements. This can actually lead to a decline in balance, something you really don’t want to happen.

Poor balance can actually increase osteoarthritis pain, particularly in knees and hips. Your joints may start making foreign noises too. 

For example, if walking forwards is one of your only forms of exercise, when you are put in a position where you have to walk backwards or cross your feet to avoid an obstacle, you may lose your balance. This is because your body is not used to these movements.

Here are some examples of how to incorporate variety into your walking routine: 

How do I get started?

Walking backwards can be a little scary at first. One of the best ways to begin trying is doing it where you have support. Many times I have clients walk backwards down a hallway where they can use the wall to stabilize. Other times you can try it along a counter if you have one big enough. You can also have someone follow behind you just in case.

Safety is so important when you start moving in ways your body is not used to.

Along with walking backwards, there are other options when trying to find ways to reduce or reverse your osteoarthritis pain.

When trying to walk backwards, make sure you have a clear path. It can be harder to see and navigate a busy floor. Also make sure if you are wearing shoes, they have good support and traction- these are my favorites.

Make sure all obstacles are out of the way and you know where the floor thresholds are if you have them. 

Here are the steps to getting started walking backwards:

  1. Start by just simply getting comfortable walking backwards. Take a few steps around your house in a safe environment.
  2. Then, walk forwards about 10-15 steps and walk backwards 10-15 steps for 3-4 times through. 
  3. Once you have mastered that, increase the distance you are going. The longer you ask your body to walk backwards, the more muscle activity you have (which is a good thing!). 
  4. You can then progress to trying to walk backwards up hills. This is only for those that feel confident doing this.
  5. The last step is mastering running backwards. Make sure you have done quite a few reps of walking before progressing to running without any stumbles or loss of balance. I always advise you have someone close by when you are getting started.

The power of walking backwards for knee pain relief

If you want to be able to squat again or simply just find longer term pain relief, walking forwards alone will not cut it. 

In order to take the repetitive stress off of your knees and begin to use other muscles that are vital for movements like squats, bending over, and stair climbing– you have to include a degree of backwards walking or movement.

If you have knee pain and aren’t sure where to start when it comes to finding long lasting pain relief, you can download this free guide to show you the first steps you need to take. 

Not just for the knees!

If you have degenerative disc disease, chronic back or hip pain, or even ankle arthritis- walking backwards can help those too!

Notice how when you are walking backwards, your posture changes. When walking forwards, you may notice you lean forward or even arch your back (this is common with back muscle tightness). 

When you walk in reverse, you tend to adopt more of an upright posture. You are working your back and leg muscles in a different way. This can lead to increasing the stretch and decreasing the tension of the muscles. 

Walking backwards is particularly helpful if your hip flexors (the muscles in the front of your hip) or your hamstrings (the muscles in the backs of your legs) feel tight. 

When moving backwards,  you use your postural muscles a little differently. You challenge different muscles to work a little harder. This is when the magic happens.

For example, according to the Idaho State Journal, “The large muscle complex called the Iliopsoas muscle, that allows your forward stride, attaches to your lumbar spine and can be implicated in several back problems and pain syndromes.” This muscle can get overworked when we are getting lots of reps walking forwards. Changing it up by adding in backwards walking can alleviate some of that stress!

Conclusion

Walking backwards has tremendous benefits if you have arthritis in your spine, knees, hips, and ankles. Simply adding it into your current routine can help to even the stress your joints are absorbing.

Be careful when first getting acclimated as there is a risk for losing your balance. Once your body becomes used to the movement, you have lots of options to progress!

Walking backwards can really help your joints find relief. There are so many people who have been amazed at how well this works with finding osteoarthritis pain relief. 

Give it a try! Remember, start slow and with as much support as you need before progressing to a quicker pace. You can totally do this.

If you are looking to join a group to learn more tips just like this one when it comes to tackling osteoarthritis pain, join our free community of arthritis adventurers on Facebook! 

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this video or site.

arthritis adventure blueprint

The Arthritis Adventure Blueprint

Dr. Alyssa Kuhn’s signature program to help you go from hopeless to hopeful with osteoarthritis. You will learn the secrets to arthritis pain relief that actually work- including exercise, diet, and other ways to control inflammation! Say goodbye to short term pain relief, it’s time to make it last.