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May 14, 2020

Joint replacement is one solution to reduce pain from injury or osteoarthritis but the goal of your health approach should be to delay the need for replacement surgery for as long as possible.

One preventative measure is strengthening your knee joints through exercise. This has proven effective in helping to delay joint replacement, in fact, one study found that two out of three knee replacements could have been avoided if the patients had undertaken physiotherapy-prescribed exercise program (along with weight management)¹.

The three exercises below can help to strengthen your knee joints. It is important to consider these exercises based on your existing health conditions in consultation with your GP:

  1. Bridges with a band around your legs. The bridge is a powerful way to strengthen the muscles around the pelvic girdle. With a stable pelvis, you’re less likely to collapse onto one leg when you walk and go upstairs, thereby decreasing your knee joint loading and associated pain. Plus, you’ll also feel some activation through your quadriceps, which are crucial to maintaining a stable kneecap and minimising patellar-related pain.

    Lie on your back, with a stretchy band or a theraband tied just above your knees. Curl your hips slowly upwards, lifting one vertebra off the mat at a time. Press through your heels and squeeze your glute muscles to lift your hips.

  2. Isometric squats with a band around your legs. If you have arthritis in your knees, you know squats are very uncomfortable. Instead of moving through a squat and grinding through your knees, you can strengthen the same muscles by holding a squat instead.

    Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and keep your knees wide, so you maintain pressure on the band.
    Stick your tailbone out and slowly bend your knees, keeping the weight in your heels. Hold for ten seconds and repeat. Once this gets too easy, try it on a balance board.
  3. Isometric plié. Time to get the tutu out. A plié, or a turned-out squat, is a great way to strengthen the external rotators of the hip while also avoiding painful bending through the knee.

    Stand with your hips turned out, so your feet are at a 45-degree angle. 
    Keeping your body upright, slowly lower down, so you’re in a squat. Hold this position for ten seconds and repeat five times. A plié is very similar to a standard squat, but it uses slightly different muscles.

You can delay invasive surgery and put off joint replacements by adding simple joint-strengthening exercises to your daily routine. Knee pain can reduce, and you will enjoy life more with optimal mobility and health.

Written by Caitlin R.
As a physiotherapist and personal trainer, Caitlin is passionate about health and fitness.

 

References
[1] Buderim Advanced Physio. Bupa pays out more than $420M in joint replacement claims, yet physio could avert up to 70% of these costs. 2019-07-24

All articles are provided as general information and are not intended, nor may it be construed, as medical advice or instruction. Information and opinions expressed are believed to be correct and accurate to the best knowledge and judgement of the authors. Readers should consult their appropriately qualified health care professional prior to taking any action or inaction.

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