Exercise Tips for People with Osteoarthritis of the Knee

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Safely strengthening the muscles around painful joints is one of the best ways to alleviate joint pain and keep the pain from returning. In fact, keeping muscles strong and flexible is one of the best ways to keep joint pain from occurring in the first place.

Type I muscle fibers

These also called "slow-twitch" muscle. It is composed of small fibers. Type I muscle is used to carry light loads over long distances. A marathon runner has an abundance of type I muscle fibers. Picture the marathon runner - lean and toned.

Type II muscle fibers

These are called "fast-twitch" muscle fibers. Type II muscles are large and used for lifting heavy loads. Type II muscles are powerful but fatigue quickly. Sprinters have an abundance of type II muscle fibers. Picture the sprinter - large muscles full of evident explosive speed. Power lifters are also replete with type II muscle fibers.

In order to treat and prevent osteoarthritis…

You should aim to exercise a combination of type I, II, and IIA (the hybrid type of type I and type II fibers) muscle fibers.

Weight lfting sets

Aim to complete 8-12 repetitions for each set.  Perform 3-5 sets per muscle exercise. Do 1-3 exercises per muscle group.

Increasing weight

You may increase the weight once you can perform 12 repetitions for 3 sets with only mild fatigue.


Only start a strength-training program after getting clearance from your personal doctor. Once you have medical clearance, I recommend that you start by working with a personal trainer or physical therapist.

Do the exercises properly!

The most important components of strength exercises are form and breathing. Always keep excellent form. This is difficult because it is tempting to sacrifice form in order to complete a repetition quickly or to increase the weight. But don't do that! It defeats the purpose of the exercise altogether.

Don't push too hard

Strength-training is a terrific way to protect your joints. Don't exercise through joint pain! A little muscle soreness after exercise is okay, but if your joint hurts, or if you are not sure if it is your joint or muscle that is hurting, then stop and call your doctor.