Help for Osteoarthritis Pain: Exercises to Stretch and Strengthen the Hip, Thigh, and Knee

February 1, 2007

Exercise is a key part of your care plan. It promotes strength and flexibility, helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduces pain, and improves overall mobility and quality of life.

Exercise is a key part of your care plan. It promotes strength and flexibility, helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduces pain, and improves overall mobility and quality of life.

Stretching exercises help preserve or increase the joint's range of motion. Strengthening exercises make your joints more stable and provide cushioning and support around the joints. The exercises shown here, combined with an aerobic activity such as walking for 45 minutes, provide a basic program for conditioning your lower extremities. Your therapist can tell you how many times to do these exercises and for how long each day to get the most benefit. It may take some time before you notice an improvement. Don't give up!

Range of Motion Exercises for the Hip and Knee

Lying on your back, slide the foot of your right leg up to the buttock (1A), then bring the thigh in toward your chest. You can hold the back of the thigh if this helps (1B). Return the leg to its original position. Repeat for the other leg.

Slide your right leg out to the side as far as possible, then return it to its original position (2). Repeat for the other leg.

Rotate your hips inward so your toes point to each other (3A). Then rotate your hips outward so your toes point away from each other (3B).

Do 5 to 10 repetitions of exercises 1, 2, and 3.

Wall Sit

Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart and 18 inches from the wall. Bend your knees slowly, keeping your heels flat on the floor (4). Hold for a count of 5 to 10 seconds, then return to your starting position. Perform only 1 or 2 repetitions, several times daily. When you can comfortably hold this position for a longer time (more than 1 to 2 minutes), start doing the exercise with your body lower on the wall and your feet farther out from it (be sure that you can still see your toes). When performing this exercise, it is important to wear shoes with nonskid soles. This exercise should not be painful.