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.

kettlebell deadlift for arthritis pain relief

3 ways a kettlebell deadlift can bring you arthritis pain relief

One of the best exercises to help you actually find arthritis pain relief is a kettlebell deadlift. As a physical therapist and osteoarthritis specialist who has worked with hundreds of people with osteoarthritis- this exercise can be an incredibly powerful one to master. This is because it helps to challenge muscles that are vital to support joints like the hip, knee, and back. 

This article may contain affiliate links that provide us with a small commission from purchases made from the links with no extra cost to you.

What is a kettlebell?

kettlebell deadlift for arthritis pain relief

A kettlebell is a type of weight that resembles a small cannonball with a handle on top. It is typically made of cast iron and comes in a range of weights.

They can be found at sporting good stores, online, and in most gyms. 

They differ from dumbbells in both the shape and the weight distribution.

One of my favorite aspects of a kettlebell is the versatility of it. There are a plethora of different movements you can do with a kettlebell. Most kettlebell movements challenge many different muscles at once which gives you a better bang for your buck in workouts too.

From a physical therapy perspective, kettlebells can be a great addition to an exercise routine because they allow for a wide range of movements that can target multiple muscle groups. For example, the popular kettlebell swing can work the legs, core, and shoulders, while a type of kettlebell squat called the goblet squat targets the legs and core.

What is a kettlebell deadlift?

kettlebell deadlift examples

A deadlift is a movement that is commonly used to pick something up from the floor, particularly a heavier object. 

Many people are led to believe that bending over is bad for the body, especially the spine. It’s actually a very vital movement but needs to be done correctly to prevent pain. 

The deadlift is an important movement everyone should master, arguably even more important with arthritis. 

Think about these questions below:

  • Do you dread bending over to pick an object up from the floor?
  • Do you anticipate or expect pain every time you have to bend over?
  • Do you avoid bending over all together? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, I’m really glad you came across this page. The kettlebell deadlift will be very beneficial to you. 

Here is a video below on how to complete the full movement. But don’t worry, this is the final movement so there are absolutely movements you can practice to work up to it. 

When first learning how to complete the kettlebell deadlift, it is imperative you learn how to do something called a hip hinge.

A hip hinge is when you bend your hips back towards your heels while keeping your chest up. During this movement you should feel a stretch in the back of your legs. Then, you will use your glutes (butt muscles) to help you stand back up. 

Here is an example below on how to practice the hip hinge. You must master the hip hinge before moving on to the deadlift, especially with weight for the kettlebell deadlift. 

Why does this exercise help arthritis pain?

Reason #1

The kettlebell deadlift is vital to help build the muscles in the backs of your legs. If you think about it, the muscles in the fronts of your legs often get worked when walking and moving about your day. 

The muscles in the backs of your legs get worked when you climb stairs, walk backwards, squat down and up, and when you complete exercises like deadlifts. 

The muscles in the backs of your legs help to support the ankle, knee, hip, and spine. If you have arthritis in any of those areas and don’t complete any of the above movements regularly, your joints may not have the support they truly need.

Reason #2

Secondly, mastering the kettlebell deadlift allows you to actually build muscle. Piggybacking off the first point- your body is likely used to your normal activity throughout the day. Meaning, it is likely used to the couple times you may go up and down the stairs a day if you have stairs in your home.

In order to continue to build muscle and promote joint support, you have to continue to progress an exercise. Adding weight is one way to make an exercise more difficult and to challenge the muscles enough to break down and repair in a stronger fashion.

If your muscles aren’t challenged enough to lead to the break down, you likely aren’t building muscle to the extent that you may think.

Starting off with a 5 or 10lb kettlebell can be a great place to start, once you master the hip hinge and feel confident with the movement. I like to measure confidence as being able to complete at least 10-12 repetitions without pain and moving in a way that you don’t have to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you’re doing it correctly.

You also want to make sure you don’t have any significant pain and/or stiffness after completing at least 10 repetitions on 3 separate occasions before adding weight.

Reason #3

Thirdly, mastering the kettlebell deadlift can make movement less scary. Once you are able to feel confident with movements such as bending over and picking something up- it can open the doors to so many other activities.

Especially if you have difficulty up and down the stairs, up and down hills, and/or maintaining your balance- mastering this deadlift can make these activities easier.

What if you didn’t have to hesitate or second guess picking something up from the ground. What if you could bend down and pick up your grandchild from the floor without thinking twice about it? What if you could pick up the laundry basket from the floor without having to spend 10-15 seconds getting into a weird position in order to avoid pain?

It is possible!

Take some time and master this movement. This can be the start of your arthritis adventure.

the Best Way To Begin

Kettlebells can help to significantly reduce osteoarthritis pain when used in the correct way. But, you may be wondering what is the best way to get started?

I have a youtube channel full of videos to help you learn how to move in ways that make your joints feel good. 

This is a great beginner workout to introduce your body to kettlebells and learn arthritis friendly movements such as the kettlebell deadlift. 

It is part of a 3 part series that continues to progress in difficulty as you master the movements. 

Getting strong with osteoarthritis

Muscle strength is one of the best ways to support an arthritic joint. 

I know when you’re in pain, movement can seem daunting. You may feel scared to try new movements, especially with weights. 

You may have even been told to avoid exercise (which is very unfortunate people are still being told this). 

Movement can make your arthritic joints feel incredible- if the right movements are presented. Gone are the days of believing “no pain, no gain”. 

Instead, listening to your body and your body’s response to exercise is crucial. Continuing to overdo it can lead you a vicious cycle of flare ups and increased pain. 

The kettlebell deadlift is one option to help you find arthritis pain relief but it isn’t the only way. If this movement does not feel good to you right now- it’s OKAY! It is possible to work up to it. 

Following these guidelines above, you can start building strength and be on your way to joint pain relief! 

If you’re ready to get started on your journey, try the free kettlebell series below! 

Dr Alyssa Kuhn, osteoarthritis

Alyssa Kuhn

Dr. Alyssa Kuhn is a physical therapist and an osteoarthritis specialist. She is based in Sandy, Utah and loves playing in the mountains. She founded Keep the Adventure Alive to break through the doom and gloom of osteoarthritis and bring a motivating perspective with the possibility of adventure. She helps people all across the world find pain relief, regain confidence and lead very active lives. She has helped hundreds of people find their own arthritis adventures and now, it’s your turn!

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.

how to reduce hip flexor pain

Hip flexor pain? 3 exercises you need right now for relief

If the muscles in the front of your hip are giving you trouble, you could be dealing with hip flexor pain. The hip flexor muscles are responsible for bringing your knee up towards your chest. There can be many reasons why these muscles become irritated including muscle imbalances causing them to overwork, overuse, compensations due to pain such as arthritis pain, and more. Learn 3 exercises to help reduce hip flexor pain in this article below.

Why are my hip flexor muscles so tight?

Tightness in the muscles in the front of your hip can become irritated. It can make it difficult to walk, lift your leg into the car, go up the stairs, lift your leg into bed, etc. 

Why does this happen? 

Hip flexor pain and tightness could be for a variety of reasons but here are a few common ones: 

  • compensations due to arthritis pain in the hip, knee, or back
  • muscle imbalances and/or weakness leading the hip flexors to overwork
  • high volume of walking without supplemental strength program
  • rapid increase in walking, running, or stair climbing volume without proper training
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • spending lots of time sitting
  • loss of knee range of motion leading to a change in walking pattern

If you can resonate with any of these reasons above, I want you to know it’s okay! Injuries happen and muscles get irritated. The key is in what you do to address these muscles and reduce the irritation. Total rest is likely NOT what you need.

As a physical therapist who primarily specializes in helping people not only find pain relief but to unlock adventure with osteoarthritis- hip flexor tightness is a symptom I hear about frequently. 

Especially if you have hip arthritis, knee arthritis, and/or degenerative disc disease- hip flexor pain can alter the way you walk. It can make getting into the car and into your bed difficult, and can also make going up the stairs painful. 

If you’re experiencing hip flexor pain, there’s one thing to consider first before going into the 3 exercises below. 

Address this FIRST!

The hip flexor muscles are responsible for advancing your leg forward when walking. 

One of the most irritating activities that can make hip flexor pain worse is walking, especially in high volumes. 

Particularly if you have osteoarthritis, one of the main forms of exercise that is recommended is walking by most healthcare professionals. 

BUT- this could actually lead to hip flexor pain and tightness if it’s the only exercise you’re doing. 

Think about it, as humans we spend our lives primarily moving in one direction- forwards. The muscles in the front of your hip then can become the muscles you use the most. 

If you don’t add other movements such as sideways and/or backwards to your routine- your hip flexors can become overworked. 

If you are primarily walking for exercise, I highly recommend checking out this article for some ideas on how to add variety to your day. It can be very powerful in providing relief from hip flexor pain.

This is by no means saying you shouldn’t walk. Walking is a great form of exercise. Simply adding in a few other movements to your walking routine can make a world of difference.

3 exercises to reduce hip flexor pain

These exercises can both help to relieve hip flexor pain but also strengthen them to help prevent pain from coming back.

It’s important that these exercises don’t make your pain worse. They should feel good. 

If any of these movements do cause significant pain, it may not be the best exercise for you right now. Try reducing the number of repetitions, the range of motion, or the amount of effort you are putting forth to see if pain levels change. 

These do progress in difficulty so make sure you master one movement by repeating on at least 3 separate occasions without an increase in significant pain before moving onto the next. 

Exercise 1: hip flexor isometric (seated)

This first exercise is one of my favorites as a physical therapist because it can easily be done in a seated position. 

Isometrics, meaning you are contracting your muscles without moving can be a great way to elicit pain relief. You are essentially letting your muscle contract then relax, thus ideally becoming less tight. 

By contracting the muscle you are bringing blood flow to the area and reducing some of the tension. 

You will contract the muscle at about 50% effort as shown in the video below.

Complete anywhere from 5-10 times, holding for up to 10 seconds each time. 

Exercise 2: Hip flexor isometric (standing)

This next exercise is a progression from the exercise above. Once you are able to complete at least 10 repetitions on 3 different occasions without an increase in hip flexor pain– you may be able to try this version. 

You will essentially be holding a march position at a higher range of motion than in sitting. 

This requires more use of the hip flexor muscle which makes it more difficult. 

The idea is to hold for 5-10 seconds again without allowing your leg to drop. Please use support for this as balance will be challenged.

Exercise 3: Wall Sit

This last exercise is meant to work all of your leg muscles as once. The goal is to get your leg muscles to work as a team, instead of the hip flexors trying to do everything. 

You may not have done a wall sit for a few years or even a few decades but they can be helpful in reducing hip flexor pain. 

I like this exercise because you can modify it to your fitness level fairly easily. The further you bend your knees the harder this exercise becomes. 

You can just bend them slightly to make the exercise easier. 

During this exercise, you want to make sure you are contracting all of your leg muscles from your calf muscles up to your glutes and everything in between. 

Hold for up to 30 seconds depending on how difficult it feels for you. Repeat up to 3 times as long as it feels good. 

Please make sure not to hold your breath on this one as it can be easy to do when trying to squeeze all of your muscles. Breathe steadily in through your nose and out through your mouth, relaxing your upper body.

Reducing hip flexor pain and tightness

The key to relaxing your hip flexor muscles is to contract them in ways that don’t flare up pain. 

These three hip flexor exercises are meant to both contract the muscles and then allow them to relax. 

Start conservative with the repetitions as you want to make sure these exercises don’t make pain worse later. It is so important to make sure and monitor how these feel for you both during and after the exercise.

If you experience more hip flexor pain and/or muscle tightness afterwards, it is important to modify accordingly. 

Think about reducing your effort back to 50% or below during the isometrics, reducing the range of motion (i.e how deep you are in the wall squat), and/or reducing the amount of repetitions. 

It is possible to reduce pain and be able to return to walking normally, climbing stairs and hills with ease, and getting into the car without thinking about it. 

The key is being consistent and treating your muscles how they want to be treated. These hip flexor exercises can help get you on the right path. 

Special Opportunity

If you’d like more exercise tips to reduce muscle tightness, keep your joints healthy, and/or reduce joint pain from arthritis, I have a special opportunity coming for you. 

I have a monthly membership coming that will include tips and tricks for reducing joint pain as well as follow along workouts with me, a physical therapist.

To receive updates and be the first to have an opportunity to get inside this membership, make sure you sign up for the weekly email newsletter below ⬇️

Here’s to adventuring!

Follow me on social media here:

Dr Alyssa Kuhn, osteoarthritis

Alyssa Kuhn

Dr. Alyssa Kuhn is a physical therapist and an osteoarthritis specialist. She is based in Sandy, Utah and loves playing in the mountains. She founded Keep the Adventure Alive to break through the doom and gloom of osteoarthritis and bring a motivating perspective with the possibility of adventure. She helps people all across the world find pain relief, regain confidence and lead very active lives. She has helped hundreds of people find their own arthritis adventures and now, it’s your turn!

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 make sitting cross legged possible again

5 simple ways to make sitting cross legged possible again (even with arthritis!)

Sitting cross legged may not be the most comfortable, especially if you have stiff and/or painful joints from arthritis. It may even seem impossible to get into that position again. But, what if I told you that it can be possible to sit cross legged if you regain mobility and reduce joint irritation. As a physical therapist I have helped hundreds of people with osteoarthritis learn how to move in ways that feel good that open the doors to so many different possibilities. Here are the 5 best tips to make sitting cross legged doable again. 

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

It is possible!

Sitting cross legged may not be as far off as you think. No matter if you have knee arthritis, hip arthritis, or stiff joints- it can be worked up to! The two things you need to be successful with this position is:

  • appropriate knee bending
  • appropriate hip rotation

If your knees and/or hips are sensitive or are highly painful- working to reduce irritation first will make sitting cross legged much more feasible. 

I do want you to know it is possible. As a physical therapist- I work exclusively with those that have osteoarthritis. Even with bone on bone arthritis- sitting cross legged is possible with the right steps.

Take a look at these women below, who have been able to get into this position, a position that honestly shocked them! 

Too often people are led to believe that if they have osteoarthritis or chronic pain- it’s normal as you get older. There are also positions you may lose due to stiffness and loss of range of motion.

I’m here to tell you this does not need to be something you accept. Odds are you’re reading this right now because you’ve said to yourself: “There has to be another way“. Trust me, there is.

With the right movements and consistent practice, sitting cross legged does not have to be something you have to rule out. 

sit cross legged with knee arthritis
woman sitting cross legged
sit cross legged

The one thing all of these ladies have in common is they are all members of the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint and have been working on these 5 things we will discuss. If you want to get a jump start on making this possible for yourself along with other activities like climbing stairs, squatting, travelling, and getting up  from the floor– click the button below to get started.

5 simple ways to make sitting cross legged possible again

Now to the fun part, how to make it happen! Here are 5 suggestions for movements depending on what you need to work on most. 

If your knee doesn’t bend very well, start there. If your hip is stiff- start with the hip movements. 

Make sure to master each of the first 4 movements before moving onto number 5. Taking it slow and listening to your body is truly the key to success here.

Please keep in mind, all of these movements should feel good. No movement or stretch should cause significant pain. If it doesn, then it’s not the movement for you right now. 

1. Knee bending

When sitting cross legged, knee bending is vital to your success. You may lose the ability to bend your knee due to stiffness, swelling, scar tissue from a previous injury, muscle tightness, and/or pain. 

It is important to challenge knee bending for it to improve. Here is one way to do it sitting in a chair. 

Try this movement for 8-10 repetitions at first. 

Don’t force the bending. Start going back as far back as your knee allows then slowly try to increase a little more with each repetition. 

2. Knee bending progression

Once the above movement feels easier- it’s time to move one. In this movement you will now be using your bodyweight as leverage to get more knee bend. 

When sitting cross legged- you need to be able to get into a pretty deep knee bend which can be achievable with this movement. 

Again, just like above, start out in a range of motion that feels comfortable then start trying to increase gradually with each repetition. 

Try between 5-8 repetitions on one or both sides to start out. Progress as you’re able to (no increase or pain and/or swelling afterwards).

3. Hip rotation

If your hip feels stiff- this movement will help to regain the rotation you need to sit cross legged. 

The movement you need to gain is called external rotation which essentially means your knee moves outwards, away from your body. This is important because as you’re sitting cross legged, your knees need to be able to move away from your body. 

This is an example of movement you can do on a bed or on a couch, especially if it is hard for you to get on the floor.

You will need a small loop resistance band- my favorites are here

Try between 8-12 of these when starting out and make sure no significant pain is caused. The key is keeping your full foot on the ground as you do this. 

4. Hip rotation Progression

This is one of my  (and my dog’s 😂) favorite exercises that so many people benefit from.

You will use the same band from the previous exercise but now you’re going to practice in a standing position. 

You will essentially be standing up and sitting down in a chair using the same knees out position you were using with the bridge above.

Being able to achieve hip external rotation in a deeper knee bend will help you get closer to sitting cross legged. 

Start with a higher chair so you can get used to the movement but decrease the chair height as it starts to get easier. Complete 8-10 of these to start with and progress from there.

5. Figure 4

Once you master the movements above, now you’re ready to try to start working into the cross legged position. 

This figure 4 exercise mimics the positioning of sitting cross legged but you will work one leg at a time. Take note if one side feels more difficult than the other and prioritize working on that side further.

Hold for 15-30 seconds when first trying. Do not force your leg into a position that does not feel good. This will likely cause more irritation or injury. 

Do what feels comfortable and have patience on this one, especially if it isn’t perfect right away. This will take time. 

Success with sitting cross legged

These movements above require consistency. Most of the time, working at least 4-6 weeks on these movements can help you begin seeing results. This of course does depend on how much range of motion you are missing and how stiff/painful your joints are. 

When you start sitting cross legged, it may not be very comfortable at first- especially if it’s been a long time since you’ve been in that position. Start with only small amounts of time (1-2 minutes) as your body gets used to it. 

If you want to speed up your progress- adding in other strength movements as well as further reducing inflammation through other avenues can be incredibly powerful. 

Inside the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint I have put everything you need including movements, foods to eat, how to think about pain, which supplements work and more! 

You have so much potential that you may never know about until you get started. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish- no adventure is too big 💪🏼

Want to know more? Watch this free webinar below detailing the 3 Secrets to Adventuring with Osteoarthritis

sitting cross legged

Follow me on social media here:

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.

enjoy travel with bone on bone knee

How to Actually Enjoy traveling with a bone on bone knee

Have you recently said no to a trip or were hesitant to go somewhere because you were worried how your bone on bone knee would do? If so, I’m glad you’re here because it is possible to climb stairs, walk for miles, and actually enjoy traveling again! 

This article does contain affiliate links that gives us a small compensation if purchases are made through the links to help support this blog at no extra cost to you.

What bone on bone really means

When you first heard “you’re knee is bone on bone” I’m sure it didn’t feel great. Those words can be really scary, especially without an explanation of what it really means. 

Being bone on bone is not a death sentence although it may seem like one. It is possible to find pain relief even with little to no cartilage.

You see, your body is great at adapting. It finds alternate ways to support the joints and many times, relies more on other structures to absorb stress like your muscles. 

Movement is one of the major keys to finding this relief, contrary to popular belief. Movement is actually necessary to get nutrients to your joints, cycle out the inflammatory cells, and to improve stiffness. Oftentimes though, people are led to believe avoiding movement is better 🤦🏻‍♀️

Look at the power movement can have…

bone on bone knee
bone on bone knees
bone on bone knees
bone on bone knee

Just because your knee(s) is/are considered bone on bone- does not mean you won’t ever be able to travel again. Once you’re able to dial in the right movements, build strength in the right areas, and feel confident again- you’ll be able to tackle walking for miles and stairs anywhere in the world! 

How do I prepare for travel with a bone on bone knee

What’s the best way to prepare your bone on bone knee for traveling? 

First think about what you might be doing. For example:

  • Will you be doing lots of walking? 
  • Will you be walking on uneven surfaces (bricks, cobblestone, sand, rocks, gravel, etc.)
  • Will you need to be able to do a large quantity of stairs?
  • Will you need to sit for a long period of time on an airplane, train, car, etc? 

Even if you aren’t sure exactly what you’ll encounter- it probably is best to be prepared for it all. Let’s discuss how to prepare for each of these. 

But first, the one universal thing you’ll need is time. Likely bone on bone knee pain didn’t happen overnight so relief likely won’t happen overnight either.

How long you ask? Well, it depends on your pain levels, how long you’ve had pain for, your strength level, etc. I do usually recommend at least preparing 3 months before your trip at the very least. 

If you’re reading this now and you leave much earlier than that, these movements can absolutely still be worth a try to make as much progress as possible.

One of the biggest lessons I want you to know before we move into these topics is more movement isn’t always better. Trying to push through the pain likely won’t help your progress. 

If you want to jumpstart your progress and have no time to waste- head to the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint. This step by step program shows you exactly how to progress movements and what else to focus on in order to start finding pain relief right away. 

1. Prepare for walking long distances

Walking longer distances can be difficult if your knee is very irritated. It’s important to identify first what the distance you can tolerate is. 

Is there a certain distance or time you can walk before you notice pain? (i.e “I can walk 15 minutes before I really start to notice my knee pain”)

If you don’t know a time or distance yet, pay attention next time you go on a walk and see what this number is- it’s important.

Many people think that walking longer distances and trying to push through the pain is helping progress their strength and ability to walk. Actually- it can increase both pain and sensitivity of your knee. 

Continuing to irritate your knee and trying to push through the pain may make recovery so much harder

For example, if your number is 15 minutes before your knee starts hurting significantly when walking- walk for 12 minutes. Stay under that threshold. 

Then when you get back, you can supplement with other movements that will help you build strength in other areas.

The goal is to actually feel good after walking for exercise- not worse.

Try to stay under your threshold for at least 5 times. Then, once you’re consistently able to walk without increasing pain significantly afterwards- add a couple of minutes to your time and see how your knee responds. 

Here are some examples of supplemental exercises to a walking program in this post.

It is worth noting that shoes do play an important role with walking as well. I recommend trying the KURU brand before you go on your trip to make sure they feel good on your feet. They are designed to help support arthritic joints. Check them out here

2. Preparing for walking on uneven surfaces

Balance plays a huge role in walking on uneven surfaces with a bone on bone knee. Rocks, sand, cobblestone, and gravel can pose a problem if you aren’t confident in your balance. 

This is absolutely something you can practice and improve upon. It is possible to feel more confident in yourself and reduce your fear of falling, but it does take time and consistency. 

This can be a great video to start with. Even if you think your balance is pretty good- it is worth trying this video below as you may be surprised! 

You definitely don’t want to be surprised about your balance on your trip! Choosing at least 1-2 balance exercises to do every day for at least 1-2 months before your trip is key. Make sure you continue to make them more difficult as you progress.

3. Preparing for stairs

The dreaded stairs…

It is possible to feel good on the stairs- but you have to put in the work. Even if you don’t have stairs in your home- you can still work on them! 

stairs with bone on bone knee
stairs bone on bone knee

When starting out, I usually recommend getting this step because it allows you to practice on a smaller step before trying a larger one.

Learn the two simple things you need to master in order to be successful with stairs in this podcast episode

With a bone on bone knee- it’s vital that you don’t try to progress too quickly- especially with exercises on the stairs. 

Inside the Arthritis Adventure Blueprint there is a special bonus module dedicated to stair climbing- showing you how to get started and how to progress.

In order to climb up/down the stairs successfully- you have to make sure you have the right single leg strength and balance. Each time you go up or down you are controlling your bodyweight essentially on one leg. 

You do have to make sure your bone on bone knee can handle bodyweight movements first before progressing to the stairs.

Here is one workout to start with.

4. Prepare for sitting

Sitting for long periods of time with knee osteoarthritis can commonly bring on knee stiffness. But there are ways you can combat the stiffness even if you can’t get up. 

A few simple movements can make a big difference with knee stiffness, ankle swelling, and/or hip stiffness. 

In this video below you’ll see some options you can try whether you are in a car, in a train, or on an airplane.

Simply having a couple of these movements to use as tools can really be beneficial at preventing and/or managing stiffness when travelling so you aren’t paying for it when you get to your destination. 

Adventures with your bone on bone knee

As you can see, there are ways to begin preparing your bone on bone knee for travelling but it does take time. 

Choose one of the strategies above to begin with instead of focusing on all of them at once. 

Is being able to walk your highest priority? Or is it stairs or uneven surfaces? Choose the highest priority first then progress to other areas as you are able. 

Understanding how to move in ways that don’t flare up your knee pain is really critcal to your success. Progressing too quickly can lead to more pain and can make this journey difficult. 

Each person’s experience with bone on bone knee pain is different. If you’re preparing and having a hard time or just can’t seem to get your pain to let up- surgery may be an option but it is a big decision. 

If you are contemplating joint replacement surgery- here is an article that helps you decide if it may be right for you. It’s not a cut and dry decision and there are many factors to consider. 

I do want you to know there is HOPE! Research continues to point to trying to increase activity levels, make diet modifications, lose weight, and find healthy ways to manage stress before opting for surgery. These natural methods can be so incredibly powerful for some. 

I am with you on this journey. All it takes is getting started.

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.

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 webinar that walks you through the exact steps you need to get started in order to make adventuring with osteoarthritis possible.

This webinar 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.  

arthritis holiday gift guide
arthritis gifts

Learn more and sign up for the webinar 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. Take a look at the video below to get some ideas.

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. 

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. 

For example, if you  limp 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 side. 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! 

If you’re specifically experiencing pain on the inside of your knee, read more on that here.

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
     

Follow me on social media here:

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.