Osteoarthritis: 3 Simple Steps to Help reduce Knee Pain Whilst Walking

Osteoarthritis: 3 Simple Steps to Help reduce Knee Pain Whilst Walking

Many people report experiencing pain from their knees on a regular basis. A 2011 study (1) revealed almost 20% of Americans experience knee pain frequently. One of the most common sources of this pain is osteoarthritic (OA) changes in the knee. This presents a dilemma as reduced activity levels due to OA knee pain leads to muscle weakness which can make the problem worse. A vicious circle can become established. The following is an excerpt from a terrific article from Arthritis.org (2).

Three steps to lessen knee pain:

1) Walk Quietly

Every time your heel hits the ground while you walk, a jolt of force travels up your leg and through your knee. Keeping the intensity of that ‘jolt’ to a minimum reduces the wear and tear and ultimately reduces pain. A simple thing to focus on whilst walking is to walk quietly, keeping the noise of your heel strike to a minimum. If your heel strike is relatively quiet it usually means the force travelling through your knee is lower. Its an easy tip to implement.

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2) Walk Straight

People experiencing knee pain often adapt the way they walk to reduce knee pain. Turning their foot and leg outwards or adopting some strange ‘wiggle’ from their leg without really thinking about it. In simple mechanical terms, your knee is a great big hinge which works best when being used in a straight line. When walking, try to make sure that your foot is pointing and your knee is bending in the direction in which you are walking. Point everything where you are going! This often feels odd at first but persevere as optimising your alignment can make a big contribution in reducing knee pain.

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3) Walk Gently Downhill

Higher impact and shearing forces make walking downhill a challenging and often painful experience for people with knee OA. However, there is a simple step you can take to reduce those forces and in doing so reduce your pain. Try reducing your step length while descending. Taking smaller steps when walking downhill in conjunction with the walking quietly and walking straight strategies described above is a great way to minimise discomfort. Walking is a great form of exercise and implementing these 3 simple tips can help make that daily walk a more pleasant experience.


  1. Relieving Pain in America – Institute of Medicine – 2011 – Washington, DC
  2. Arthritis.org - http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/walking/wow-of-walking.php

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