3 Most Effective Exercises for Knee Osteoarthritis with just a pillow!

arthritis exercises with a pillow

Hello Readers! In this article, I am going to discuss some of the easy and effective exercises for knee osteoarthritis. These exercises help in

  • Increasing muscle strength, thereby relieving pain.
  • The movement of joints results in the movement of excess fluid from the joint, thus reducing the swelling.
  • The exercises generate a general sense of well-being in us thereby lifting the mood and overall health.

Also, read more information about OsteoArthritis and also about how to change your lifestyle with OA and knee pain.

The 3 most effective exercises for Knee Osteoarthritis are:

1. Isometric Quadriceps Exercise

These are one of the easiest exercises and are most effective. They help in

  • Pain relief
  • Increasing the blood supply to the joint (washout the pain-causing metabolites)
  • Increasing the strength of muscle
  • Reduction of swelling etc.


knee exercises

Keep this kind of Roll or Pillow under your Knee.

  1. Lie down on a bed or firm surface (you can also sit in the long sitting position).
  2. Roll a towel and make it cylindrical in shape.
  3. Keep the towel below your knees.
  4. Try to press on the towel with your knee’s force. (Don’t use your hands, it will be considered cheating!)
  5. Hold this position and wait for 30 seconds.
  6. Release the force and relax.
  7. Repeat the same activity 5 times.

Note:  You can hold it for 10 seconds in the beginning and can increase the hold time gradually.

2. Delorme’s Exercise or PRE (Progressive Resistance Exercise)

This exercise will prove to be very beneficial for patients with knee OA in the long run.

  • This is the most effective exercise to increase the strength and stamina of your knee muscles.
  • You won’t get fatigued easily while standing for a long time.
  • Changing your position becomes a lot easier after this exercise, for example, sitting to standing and vice versa.


  1. Sit in a high sitting position (sit on a higher platform and your legs should be hanging that is, not touching the ground.
  2. Tie a weight of around half kg to 2 kgs on your feet (depends upon the level of pain).
  1. You can also make some weight cuffs at your home by following these steps:

Note: these weight-cuffs will not be as easy to handle as the professional weight cuffs, but still they will serve the purpose if you don’t want to buy the weights from the market.

  • Take ½ kg, 1 kg, 1 ½ kg or 2 kg of sand or salt.
  • Fill it in a bag which is sewed by three sides and open on one side.
  • After filling the material, seal the other side as well.
  • Attach two strings or velcros on both sides (so that they can get tied on your foot).
  1. Tie half kg in the beginning, you can increase half kg every week.
  2. Now lift your leg so that it becomes straight (as shown in the figure).
  3. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  4. Take it back to normal position.
  5. Repeat it 10 times with each leg.

Note: You can also buy a Delorme’s table here, otherwise the weight cuffs and your dining table will do.

3. Vastus-Medialis Isometric Exercise

Most patients with knee OA have more pain on the inner side of the knee. So this exercise mainly focuses on the inner side of the muscle named as vastus-medialis, so that the pain on that particular site can be treated.

Its benefits are same as the Isometric Quadriceps Exercise.


  1. Lie down or sit in long sitting.
  2. Keep a pillow between your knees
  3. Try to press this pillow with the help of both your knees (no cheating, don’t use your hands because we are watching you!).
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat this 5 times.

Exercise FAQs

Question 1. When to do these exercises?

Answer. You can do these exercises –

  • Two times a day would be perfect
  • Keep a gap of around 2 hours from food. (you can do 1st and 3rd exercise after 30 minutes of having food too.)

Question 2. What are the precautions while doing these exercises?

Answer.  The precautions are as follows:

  • Don’t overexert yourself.
  • Follow the directions closely.
  • Get the consent of your ‘Physical Therapist or Physio’ before performing these exercises as every patient is different. These exercises have no side-effects though but their frequency and repetition vary from patient to patient.
  • Don’t jump on 2kg weight on the very first day, gradually increase the weight every week.

So, these were the most effective exercises for knee OsteoArthritis.

Stay tuned for more and also please tell us which exercise suits you best for your knee OA and also any queries are welcome!

Till then

“Even if you need to convince yourself daily to do the exercises, do it. Otherwise, your pain will do that after some time!”

Note: The remedies or exercises provided in this article are not a replacement for a medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional before following the solutions.

A Physiotherapist (orthopedics) by education, loves nature, coffee, beauty and everything cute n organized! Did I say coffee?

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