Our knee and hip joints need movement, stretching, and daily exercise to be at their best which means during the CoVid-19 quarantine, we need to continue exercising at home. There are actually a lot of exercises you can for knee and hip arthritis or knee and hip replacement at home. You won’t need equipment and doing these knee and hip exercises at home will help relieve stiffness, improve circulation, and increase your strength.

The Importance of Daily Exercises for Knee and Hip Arthritis and Joint Replacements

We may all be quarantined to our homes right now, but for anyone who has arthritis or a recent knee or hip replacement, it is imperative to keep moving, stay active, and keep your exercises up! When we sit for long periods, decrease activities such as daily walks, or do not have range of motion exercises that move our joints through their full range, our knees and hips stiffen up. The bad news is they stiffen up very quickly with lack of movement; however, the good news is you can loosen them up with exercises!

Let’s go with the theory that you do not have any equipment at home and how about we give you 3 categories of exercises depending on what stage your joint is in and the current pain level you are experiencing. The 3 categories of exercises are going to be broken down as follows:

  1. Floor Exercises: Choose this category if you fall into any of these descriptions:
    -Your arthritis is advanced, you are awaiting surgery
    -Your knee or hip joint pain is high
    -Your balance is poor
    -You may be overweight and want to protect your joints
    -You are recently post joint replacement surgery and rehabilitating
  2. Standing Exercises: Choose these exercises if you align with the following:
    -Have no or little pain in your hip or knee joints
    -Are post joint replacement surgery and have no inflammation/swelling
    -You have good balance and feel safe standing
    -You are in the early stages of arthritis and it is not advanced
    -Your goal is to build strength and you can do these without pain during or after
    -You are young, still working, active and standing exercises do not increase pain for you
    -Are pre surgery, want to maintain strength and will monitor pain
    -The goal here is to not increase inflammation, swelling, pain
  3. Chair Exercises: These exercises are best for people who identify with any of the following:
    -Have poor balance
    -Cannot get down on the floor or could, but then cannot get back up
    -Have pain when weight bearing/standing
    -In a lot of pain or advanced stages of osteoarthritis
    -Are in the first 6-8 weeks post operation and need to build strength
    -Either overweight or frail with being underweight
    -Have a severe heart condition or poor cardiovascular condition

Now that you have assessed which category of exercises are best for you and the stage of arthritis or pain/inflammation present, let’s give you some options to keep moving while stuck at home during the quarantine. We will begin with floor exercises.

Floor Home Exercises for Arthritis and Joint Replacement

These exercises are great for anyone who has advanced arthritis in their hips or knees or is recovering from a hip or knee replacement. In order to be able to do these safely, you must be able to get up and down off the floor without assistance and feel confident doing so. Let’s dive in shall we? Okay, perhaps it is more like ease in gently; either way I am ready to guide you safely to easing joint stiffness, increase strength, and build your body to the best function it can be in!

  1. The Bridge Lift: This exercise is great for both knee and hip arthritis as well as post knee and hip replacement. Draw your pelvic floor muscles up and in gently prior to lifting and tighten your seat muscles as you raise up of the floor. Do 12-15 repetitions and 1-2 sets.

2. Prone Hip Extension with Added Knee Extension: This exercise can also be done for both knee and hip arthritis as well as post joint replacement surgery. Begin on your stomach and if you have pain in your low back, place a pillow under your pelvis so that your low back does not arch. Relax one leg completely and then with the other leg begin by flexing your foot in towards your shin so your toes are in contact with the floor.

The next step is to straighten the knee while keeping your toes in contact with the floor. Your knee will now be lifted of the floor. Lastly, tighten your seat muscle and lift the whole leg off the floor slightly. Pause up a second or two feeling the contraction of your seat muscle, then relax it back down to starting position. Start with 10-15 repetitions and 1 set building to 2 sets each leg.

Clam Shell Exercise: Again the Clam Shell exercise is good for both hip and knee arthritis as well as post hip or knee replacement surgery. The only group of people that should avoid this exercise are individuals that have had a hip replacement with an anterior incision who are in the first 3 months post operation or who have complications such as a history of dislocation.
Lie on your side with your shoulders, hips and feet in line and your knees bent at about a 45 degree angle. (90 degrees knee flexion would be with your knees in line with your hips so make sure it is a lot less than that.) With your feet glued together, focus on lifting your top knee from your lateral hip muscle while ensuring the feet stay together.

Avoid pushing with your feet. Lift slow and controlled to a height where you feel the side hip muscle working. Pause up for a second and then lower slow and controlled. Avoid letting your hips/pelvis/back roll backwards. Begin with 12 repetitions and 1 set building to 15 repetitions and 2 sets over time.

Chair Exercise for Knee and Hip Arthritis or Joint Replacements

Chair exercises are great for many people with arthritis or who have recently had joint replacement surgery. They are also safe for anyone who has balance issues, cannot get down on the floor, or who has limited range of motion at the knee or hip. One of the best exercises to build functional strength back for people with knee or hip arthritis or who are post knee or hip replacement operation is the ‘sit to stand’ or chair squat exercise.

The chair squat or sit to stand is a weight bearing exercise which means it will add load to your joints; therefore if you have a lot of joint pain or swelling, it may be best for you to stick with the floor exercises highlighted above which are non weight bearing. If you are tall or have limited range of motion in your hips or knees, you may need to put some foam blocks or cushions on the chair so that when you sit on it, your hips are at or above a 90 degree bend. Start with 10 repetitions and 1 set building to 12 reps, 2sets.

Although this picture shows a ‘free squat’, do it with a chair and make sure to not lead back with your hips as you sit down so that your knees do not move past your toes.

There are so many great chair exercises that I just cannot cover them all here, but many are included in the two exercise programs I created for knee arthritis/knee replacement and hip arthritis/hip replacement. However, here is one more that is one of the most important ones for knee arthritis and knee replacement which is for strengthening the quadricep muscle. It is called a knee extension and here are the technique tips to do the exercise correctly: 1. Sit tall with good posture and you will need to sit slightly forward on the chair / ensure you are not leaning back 2. Gently draw your lower abdominals in to stabilize your core 3. Keeping your upper thigh in contact with the chair, extend one leg with the ankle flexed, toes pointing to the ceiling 4. Contract the upper thigh muscle, called the quadricep and hold up for a count of 1-3 seconds. Do 12-15 repetitions, starting with 1 set and increasing to 2 sets over time.

Standing Exercises for Knee and Hip Replacement Pre and Post Operation

These standing exercises are for anyone with knee or hip replacement post surgery and they may be okay for people with hip and knee arthritis if the pain in your joints is minimal or only if you do not feel any pain while doing them. Remember that when you add standing exercises, they are weight bearing which means they are adding load to your joints. This means you must have enough strength and stability to begin them. These standing exercises will challenge your balance and therefore you will need to be near a wall, railing, or hold on to the back of a stable chair.

One Leg Balance and Hold

Regaining balance after knee or hip replacement surgery is very important. Of course there is at least a 6 week recovery period post surgery when this exercise would not be appropriate and additional weeks building your strength back up before attempting this. Please ensure your body, joint, and muscles are healing and strong enough before doing this 1 leg balance exercise. If you have knee or hip arthritis, one leg balance exercises usually would increase pain or swelling and therefore are not advised.

To do the 1 leg balance exercise, stand near a wall or railing so you can hold on and a stable chair would also work. Unlike the picture below, when doing the balance on 1 leg exercise, all you need to do is lift one foot of the floor a little bit and hold it up for 5-10 seconds to start. The goal is to keep your pelvis level. Focusing your eyes on 1 spot will help you balance. Try 3-5 repetitions of a 5-10 second hold to begin and if you can hold longer than do up to 30 seconds, but with gradual time increments of 5 seconds.

Standing Side Leg Raise or Hip Extension
One more exercise to loosen the hips up from sitting a lot, but also build stability in 1 leg balance are the side leg raise or hip extension holding on to the back of a chair or a railing. All you need for this exercise is to stand tall with good posture directly behind a chair close to it so you are not leaning forward at all. To do the hip extension exercise, set your lower abdominal muscles by gently drawing your belly button to spine, then extend one leg behind you without arching your back. We actually have very little range of motion in extension so do not force it, but do feel the gluteal or seat muscle as you keep your leg straight and extend it behind your body. Do 10-15 repetitions of these and begin with 1 set increasing to 2 sets.

Of course there are advancements to this exercise by wrapping a theraband around your two legs, but this is advanced for people who have excellent balance and need more challenge.

There you have it some exercises and ideas to keep you active at home during the Covid-19 quarantine or at any other time to keep you strong with home exercises. There are a lot more exercises shown in the two exercise programs I created for pre and post operation hip and knee replacement. Also, if you are a trainer, I designed an online course for training hip and knee arthritis clients and people who have had knee and hip replacements which you can view here.

If you are stuck at home recovering from a joint replacement, needing to move because you have knee or hip arthritis, or wondering what exercises you can do to keep your knee and hip joints strong and mobile, check out the hip and knee exercise programs I offer here.

Wishing you all health, mobile joints with good range of motion, and strength to do all you want in your life.