One of the main causes of osteoarthritis of the knee is lack of movement. Regular activity plays an important role when it comes to osteoarthritis: after all, movement is a form of prevention. Physical activity can also help to relieve the symptoms of existing osteoarthritis. In our article, you can learn why that is and which activities are particularly suitable. Our tips will improve your wellbeing and reduce your pain in daily life.

After a long day of work, it can be hard to feel motivated to get exercise or play sports. It’s worth getting over that feeling: lack of movement is a potential risk factor for osteoarthritis along with incorrect strain, unfavorable nutrition and obesity. 

What happens in the knee joint if you don't stay active?

Osteoarthritis of the knee involves excessive wear of the cartilage in the knee. This results in pain, restriction of movement and, in the worst case, stiff knees.

“Keeping active is definitely the most important thing,” says Christian Teusch, specialist in orthopedics and trauma surgery. After all, the cartilage in the knee acts as a shock absorber for the bones and ensures that the knee joint glides smoothly. But it has to remain elastic and supple to fulfill this function optimally. This requires synovial fluid or “joint lubricant”, which nourishes the cartilage with all the essential nutrients and lubricants to keep it preserved. The fluid only enters the cartilage tissue during movement due to the combination of stress and relief. This is the only way to work essential nutrients into the cartilage and get rid of waste products. As a result, the cartilage is able to maintain its function.

Use it or lose it

Without enough physical activity, the cartilage does not get a sufficient supply of joint lubricant. As a result, the cartilage becomes porous and rough, suffers continuous wear and is no longer able to fulfill its protective function. If osteoarthritis has already been diagnosed in the knee, it's not too late to get moving, even if this triggers pain at first: “Osteoarthritis patients should try to keep active all the time because then the cartilage is supplied with nutrients more effectively,” explains orthopedic specialist Teusch.

Keeping active is definitely the most important thing.

Christian Teusch
Specialist in orthopedics and trauma surgery

How can you prevent osteoarthritis of the knee?

To protect yourself against osteoarthritis of the knee or slow down the deterioration of cartilage tissue, get gentle exercise involving fluid movements. These activities mobilize the joints without subjecting them to excessive strain. Ideal types of exercise include: aqua aerobics, yoga, swimming, walking, gentle jogging or cycling in low gears, i.e. without pushing down too hard on the pedals. Nordic walking and hiking on flat surfaces are also enjoyable, healthy movements for the knee. During exercise, special knee supports and knee orthoses by Bauerfeind provide improved stability, reduced pain and a feeling of security combined with excellent wearing comfort.

Abrupt movements, rapid changes of direction, jumps and shocks, however, exert a great deal of pressure on the joint. So it's better to enjoy sports like football, basketball or volleyball from the sidelines.

Get moving and improve your wellbeing

You don't always have to follow the same minutely planned exercise routine. The bottom line: it's important to maintain an active lifestyle. This means climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator, going for a walk instead of spending the evening on the couch, leaving the car in the garage and taking your bike instead. “It’s essential to do something every day,” orthopedist Teusch emphasizes. For gymnastics or yoga, “even just 15 minutes in the morning are usually enough.”

Regular exercise not only prevents a rapid progression of osteoarthritis of the knee, it also benefits the mind. And there's another advantage: getting gentle exercise and paying attention to your diet makes it easier to lose weight. Since obesity is also a cause for osteoarthritis of the knee, weight loss is a pleasant side effect that helps curb the condition.

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