Although Pilates exercises are not specifically designed for osteoarthritis sufferers, it can be a good choice of exercise for people who shy away from other forms because it is low impact and won’t stress joints that are painful. It focuses on the core postural muscles that keep the body balanced and the spine in healthy alignment.

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Pilates Exercises for Osteoarthritis of the Knee

20th July 2020

Although Pilates exercises are not specifically designed for osteoarthritis sufferers, it can be a good choice of exercise for people who shy away from other forms because it is low impact and won’t stress joints that are painful. It focuses on the core postural muscles that keep the body balanced and the spine in healthy alignment.

As a form of exercise, pilates is good for those who shy away for keeping fit as it’s gentle and doesn’t add extra burden to ligaments and cartilage. There are five principles to Pilates:

  1. Mental focus to perfect movements and muscle control
  2. Awareness of spine position during exercise
  3. Development of deep muscles to support proper posture
  4. Breathing techniques to promote mental focusing and centering
  5. Lengthening, strengthening and flexibility in the muscles

Osteoarthritis is helped by practicing Pilates as it lengthens the body and helps relieve soreness. Stretching is thought to help with blood flow, and better circulation serves to relieve aches and stiffness in the body. Posture improvements can help reduce the number of aches and pains.

One of the most common problems faced by people suffering osteoarthritis is fatigue. Typically, Pilates exercises are developed to improve the stamina of joint muscles and, ultimately, diminish fatigue-related issues.

Three of the best exercises from Lyndsay Hirst at Your Pilates Physio

Lyndsay Hirst from Your Pilates Physio, who provide online Pilates classes, is a chartered, state-registered UK physiotherapist with over a decade of experience helping people overcome physical injuries and conditions, such as back pain, neck pain, hip pain, and shoulder pain.

Lyndsay says: “My patients with arthritic knee pain benefit from a combination of core exercises with quad strengthening. They also benefit from hip/glute work. I tend to find that lots of people with arthritic knees have poor alignment of the whole lower limb chain, so they benefit from working from the core down.”

The following three exercises are considered by Lyndsay to be the best for anyone with arthritic knee pain:

One-leg stretch

Start position: Lie down in the supine position (on your back) with a neutral spine and engage the core muscle.

Level 1: As you exhale, lengthen the right leg, hovering the foot by imagining rolling a tennis ball down to the end of your mat then bring the foot back to the centre as you inhale.

Ensure the spine stays neutral and repeat the process with the opposite leg.

Clam

Start position: Side lying with bottom arm under your head for support. Knees should be bent and your heels in line with your bottom. Push the pelvis away from the ribs to lengthen each side of your waist and engage the core muscle.

Level 1: Inhale to prepare and exhale as you lift the top knee towards the ceiling. Make sure your spine and pelvis stay still. Inhale to release.

Try and imagine headlights on your pelvis shining forwards and make sure the headlights don’t move as your knee lifts.

Swimming

Start position: Lie down in the prone position (on your stomach) and engage the core muscle.

Level 1: Inhale to prepare and exhale as you lift your right leg away from the mat. Keep the knee straight and try to feel the glute muscles contract.

Try to imagine reaching your toes to the wall at the end of your mat and feel the leg lengthen as you lift it. Inhale to lower and repeat with the opposite leg.

With this exercise, it is important to keep the spine still.


For more information on the online classes at Your Pilates Physio, visit their website.

To find more exercise ideas for osteoarthritis of the knee, take a look at our exercises to manage knee pain.

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