Exercise therapy is widely recommended for managing knee, hip and hand OA. It is considered the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in osteoarthritis.
Muscle weakness, particularly in the quadriceps femoris, is associated with increased pain levels and poorer physical function.
Strong muscles are stress resilient and exhibit greater motor control.
Women suffering with arthritis have stiff joints — largely because they avoid movements that can increase pain. Immobility makes the stiffness and pain only get worse.
Building strength in the involved muscles surrounding the joint is extremely important, since stronger muscles can better stabilize a weakened joint.
In the case of acutely inflamed joints, isometric exercises should be practiced without exacerbation of clinical disease activity. Moderate contractures should be held for 6 seconds and repeated 5–10 times each day.
Isotonics exercises involve joint mobility. This group of exercises are more intensive, achieving strength development through increased repetitions or by introducing increasing weight resistance such as with small dumbbells or stretch bands.
Walking is idle aerobic exercises to begin because it requires no special skills or equipment other than a good pair of supportive walking shoes, and it’s less stressful on joints than running or jogging.
Cycling is another exercise for women with arthritis, because it places less stress on knee, foot, and ankle joints.
Swimming is also often recommended because there is minimal pressure on joints while in water.
Note: If pain persists more than 2 hours or too much fatigue, loss of strength, or increase in joint swelling occurs after an exercise program, then it should be revised.