3 easy yoga exercises to ease arthritic knees

Tracy Adshead is a yoga teacher specialising in yoga for seniors. She is passionate about bringing healing and healthy ageing to the community.

Arthritis in the knees is most likely to affect people over-50. The symptoms include pain, swelling and a limited range of movement. While immobility might seem like a good idea when dealing with these symptoms, this approach can lead to further complications. Yoga not only safely exercises the muscles and joints, it also triggers a relaxation response that can help to reduce pain and improve functioning. 

Here are some easy non-weight bearing yoga exercises for arthritic knees, they help to improve circulation and loosen the joint.

Before you start: Occasionally, when we move our body’s in new ways our brains have a little “wobble” and the movement doesn’t go as expected – this is perfectly normal. If it happens to you don’t worry, this is just rusty mental pathways.

First, relax. Sit on a stable, firm chair, keep your back upright, roll the shoulders back and down. If your feet don’t reach the floor place a couple of books underneath them. Place the hands in front of the heart in prayer position, take three to five deep breaths and relax the whole body.

1. Loosen the knee joint

Sitting forward on your chair, lift your right foot off the floor and interlock the fingers of the hands behind the knee to support it (if this is not comfortable place a wide belt or a rolled-up towel behind the fold of the knee instead). Start to swing your lower leg backwards and forwards like a hinge. Make this comfortable and relaxing for the body, repeat 10 to 15 times.

Repeat on the left leg.

2. Knee rotations: the slower the better

Keep your right foot off the floor and place your hands or belt in the support position behind the knee. Point your right toes away from you. Moving with your breath, begin to make small circles in the air with your toes, rotating the lower leg in a circular motion. Moving slowly, look at the circle you make – is it comfortable? If not, make the circle smaller.

Complete this rotation five to seven times in a clockwise motion then, repeat in an anti-clockwise motion.  

Repeat the practice on the left leg.

3. Knee flexing and extending

Coming back to the right leg, interlock the fingers of the hands behind the knee (or support the knee using the alternatives mentioned above). Bend the right knee and aim to draw the knee towards your chest, finding a comfortable position. Take a deep breath in, as you exhale straighten the leg out in front of you. Now, let the right knee bend as you lower the foot down to the floor, exhale some more. Inhale the knee back towards the chest and repeat this practice five to seven times. Aim for a full range of movement through the knee, it’s like a supported cycling motion.

Repeat on the left leg.

Remember, don’t do anything that causes pain or discomfort and consult your doctor before starting any new forms of exercise.

If you have any questions, please visit Tracy's Facebook page.


Article created in partnership with Over60