Arthritis of the knee is a miserable condition that affects millions of Americans. It is the slow degeneration of the protective cartilage that surrounds the knee joint, and eventually it causes painful bone-on-bone contact when movement occurs. Ironically, although this condition causes movement to be painful, the lack of movement will dramatically increase the pain of the disease and lead to quicker degeneration. Knowing how to do some basic exercises, like walking, can help you slow the rate of the disease and make the condition more bearable.
Brace yourself. Use an Ace bandage or a knee brace on the affected knee or knees. Providing support can help keep the knee in line and reduce stress on the arthritic areas of wear and tear.
Wear good shoes. Don't attempt to go for a walk in flip-flops. Your knees need support, and that means your feet and your legs need support as well. Get some good walking shoes and use them when you want to walk.
Begin by stretching. Stand with your feet together and, keeping your legs straight, bend and reach for your toes. Repeat this several times, reaching farther with each stretch. Stand on tip toes and roll down to a flat foot position, then roll back up to your toes, then down. Repeat this until you feel the stretch in your calves. Spread your legs and, keeping your legs straight, reach down first for one ankle with both hands, hold for 10 seconds, then switch to the other ankle. These stretches are basic but will make a huge difference in the amount of stiffness you might experience after your walk.
Ease into the walk. Start at a slow pace on flat ground. Do not attempt, with arthritic knees, to climb mountains or immediately tackle a hill. Warm up your legs muscles with a slow pace that gradually builds into a quicker pace.
Don't push it. No matter how good you feel or how little pain you might be in, don't decide to jog or go three extra miles. Use common sense. If you want to increase the pace until you have a decent cardio workout, then do so slowly and within reason. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that will go away when you are done. So although you may not feel the pain at the time, you can bet you'll feel it later!
Walk slowly to cool down. Take 10 minutes to cool down your muscles properly. A sudden stop of exercise can cause cramps.
Take your NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) after you are through. These prevent some of the pain and stiffness from occurring. Common NSAIDs are ibuprofen, Tylenol, aspirin and Naproxen.
Take the time to do all the steps to enjoy your walk. If you use a little common sense, you can still enjoy many of the same activities you did before your arthritic knees got in the way.
STOP walking and get off the knee if there is more than mild pain. Pushing your knee too far can result in serious injury.