How to reduce hip and knee OA (osteoarthritis)
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs when the joints (cartilage) wear down over time and results in less cushioning around the joints. Chances are, you know someone who has hip or knee OA, is waiting for a joint replacement, taking pain medication, or is in a lot of pain! As a physiotherapist, I hear this a lot, like multiple times per day. Unfortunately, we often see these folks later in the disease process than what we would like. So read on for what I wish I could tell everyone NOW before joint pain begins.
Move your joint LOADED through its ENTIRE range of motion.
There is a reason that North America has some of the highest rates of osteoarthritis compared to other countries. We rarely load our hip and knee joints through their entire range EVER! Think about it, our toilets are nice and high up so we don’t have to squat, our computer chairs are at a height that only requires our knee and hip joints to bend just over half of their full capacity, and lounging on a lazy boy? Don’t even get me started.
The squatty potty, has attempted to get us into deeper hip and knee flexion (bending), but it is still unloaded, meaning your not putting much of your body weight onto your joints in that position.
What do I mean by loaded?
If you lay down on the floor and hug your knees to your chest, yes you are going through pretty much the entire range of hip flexion (about 125 degrees) and knee flexion (about 135 degrees) in most cases, but you are not applying any force to that joint because you are laying down. Research shows that in order to maintain good blood flow and health of the joint, weight needs to be applied to the joint.
You may be thinking, well how do I do that?
In certain countries, the toilet is simply a hole in the ground, which requires them to perform a full range and loaded squat. These are the countries that have lower rates of OA than us because they load their joint everyday, multiple times per day. Obviously, that is not what our toilets are like, and I doubt anyone will be installing this in their homes. So, I tell all of my patients, and I do this myself everyday, multiple times per day. The sumo squat with your buttocks getting as close to the ground at possible while still keeping your balance and feet flat on the ground.
This may be very difficult for a lot of people because this range is RARELY performed. Start out small. Never go into pain, hold onto something for support, try one leg at a time. This simple exercise should be performed everyday, multiple times per day as long as it doesn’t hurt. It may help reduce your chances of developing hip and knee OA, or you may have more pain free years or reduced pain years. If you are concerned you may have knee or hip OA, a thorough physiotherapy examination and a customized exercise program can significantly reduce pain, improve mobility, reduce your chances of needing surgery, and speed up recovery if surgery is required. One of our physiotherapists would be happy to help with any of your OA needs or concerns. You can give us a call, book online, or email us!