July 03, 2021 6 min read

Low-impact exercises, activities that are easy on weight-bearing joints like the knees, take the stress off the joints. Bike riding is a good example. The movements are fluid and don't jar the joints. Water cycling is even better than land cycling, though, when it comes to osteoporosis of the knees. Hydrostatic pressure from the water reduces inflammation that makes joints painful. At the same time, water movement and warmth enhance the blood flow, and the buoyancy lessens the joint stress. The structure of an AquaBike maintains alignment and rotation momentum. The sensation of the water can increase body position sensing to enable better balance and confidence. 

Exercise is an essential component in any osteoarthritis treatment plan. It is necessary to stabilise the knee joints and reduce the risk of further damage. What makes water cycling the right choice for those with osteoarthritis of the knee joint?

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a prevalent degenerative joint disease. It results from cartilage found on the ends of the joints wearing down over the years. Once gone, those bones rub against one another, causing damage and affecting how well you can move.

This problem is especially critical in the largest and arguably the most important joints in the human body — the knees. When you have bad knees, you have a hard time doing most kinds of movements. Even standing comes with a wobble. 

Each knee actually consists of two individual joints: the tibiofemoral and the patellofemoral. So, they are especially vulnerable to osteoarthritis. And because this disease is degenerative, it's crucial to slow the decline as much as possible. Choosing the right kind of low-impact exercises is the key. Aqua biking tops the list as one of the best choices.

What is Water Therapy for Osteoarthritis?

Water therapy is therapy done in a water environment like pool with the supervision of a trained water specialist. Water therapy is known by a variety of names, including:

  • Aquatic Therapy
  • Pool therapy
  • Water therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Aquatic rehabilitation
  • Aquatic exercise

Exercise in a pool uses buoyancy to reduce the weight you place on sore, inflamed joints. In addition, the combination of weight reduction and smooth, structured cycling movements gained using aquatic therapy equipment like an AquaBike can ease the pain associated with swollen knee joints. 

For those with osteoarthritis of the knee, regular exercise may be too painful and cause further joint deterioration. Gravity puts pressure on the joints. Water buoyancy relieves that pressure. In addition, water can support up to 90 percent of body weight. The heat from the water also helps relax the muscles around the knee joint and remove stiffness or restrictions in mobility. Hydrostatic Pressure, which is the pressure water puts on the body when submerged, creates a massage effect that is intensified with the fast-cycling movement of an Aqua Bike that helps ease pain of swollen joints, and reduces inflammation.

Water provides more resistance than air. As a result, exercises done in the water don't require as much effort yet build that same muscle and burn calories. It's a great way to stay fit and healthy without further deterioration of the knee joint. Although osteoarthritis damage is not reversible, interventions like the right exercise can strengthen the muscles around the joints, improving flexibility and reducing pain and inflammation. Aqua cycling is one of the most effective exercises for osteoarthritis of the knee. 

What is Aqua Cycling? 

As the name suggests, aqua cycling otherwise known as Aqua biking, means riding a specially designed bike in the pool. It is an aerobic activity done on a Hydrorider or aquatic bike. These are bikes are specially made for use in the water. 

While riding a bike in the water might seem like an odd concept, it offers great cardiovascular benefits. At the same time, the water buoyancy takes the pressure of the knee joints while building up the strength of both knees, legs, and hips, the support structures for the knee.

What are the Benefits of Aqua Biking for Knee Joints? 

Biking in the water adds resistance but still protects the knee joints. A 2016 study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders found that aqua cycling was an effective treatment for pain from osteoarthritis in the knee. It also improves the physical functioning of the joints. According to the study, water buoyancy decompresses joints, providing a weightless feeling during the activity. At the same time, the warmth of the water relaxes the muscles, reducing stiffness and pain. 

2017 study published in PloS One on aquatic cycling found it has strong cardio benefits. The difference is the source of the resistance. Land bikes work against the air. The resistance for aqua bikes comes from the water, which is around 1,000 times denser than air. That means even when going slower; aqua cycling offers high-intensity benefits as well as the low impact from the water boyancy.

Other Health Benefits of Aqua Cycling

Many amazing health benefits come with aqua cycling. 

Enhanced Fat Burning

For one thing, it burns fat faster. Water adds resistance that makes everything from walking to HIIT training techniques more difficult. It gets the heart rate up quicker, so you burn more fat in a shorter time frame. You can burn up to  800 kcal an hour on an aqua bike. 

Lymphatic Drainage

It's not the kind of thing most people think about, but improved lymphatic drainage is another benefit of aqua cycling. The lymphatic system helps maintain proper fluid levels in body tissue, which is essential for a healthy immune system. When it doesn't work well, fluid can build up in the tissue and cannot drain efficiently. 

That combination of the water-resistance and leg movement massages the tissue in a way that improves circulation and enhances lymphatic drainage. 

Better Balance

Aqua cycling challenges the body to maintain proper form when exercising. Water pushes on you from all sides, threatening to topple you off the aqua cycle. You must maintain an appropriate balance to stay on and continue moving. 

When you are working to maintain proper balance, you strengthen key muscles responsible for it. That helps you maintain good form even when on land. 

Muscle Toning

Just because aqua cycling is easy on the knee joints doesn't mean it's not a workout. When in the pool, muscles move against the resistance of the water, so they work harder. That means better tone in less time than it might take with some land exercises. 

Tips for Getting Started With Water Cycling for Osteoarthritis Relief

Is Aqua Cycling the best exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee and joint pain? The simple answer is yes. It is always best to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Aqua cycling is the kind of exercise that you can do at your own pace, so it is good for most people with arthritis. 

However,  not all aqua bikes are equal. It's important to talk to a water therapy expert before investing in an aqua bike to ensure you get the best fit for yourself and your goals. The Hydrorider has been designed by biomechanics with the knee in mind. They offer a fluid resistance change with speed that is not jerky on the knees. They allow you to build gradual strength and increase the resistance as you improve. That means it is productive for you whether you are just starting water exercise or a seasoned athlete. 

Some features that makes the HYDRORIDER® a powerful option include:

  • Four Paddle Flywheel for fluid smooth resistance that is not jarring on the knees.
  • Fully adjustable seat to customize to your individual height and leg length so you can cycling in the right position for your body, protecting the knee joint.
  • Complete handlebar adjustments, so the bike will customize to fit your individual height and limb length.
  • Wide wheels for easy transport and requires no heavy lifting and does not add weight to the knees while moving.

Still have questions? We specialise in water therapy for osteoarthritis.  Give us a call today to find out more about water exercises for knee osteoarthritis.


Note: Please seek medical advice before exercising & always train under the advice your medical specialist.

Also in Blog

Breast Cancer and Aquatic Exercise
Breast Cancer and Aquatic Exercise

October 20, 2023 10 min read

Aquatic therapy can improve strength, cardio, flexibility, balance, lymphoedema, chemo-induced neuropathy, as well as the anxiety & self-image affected by breast cancer.
Water Cycling for Anxiety & Depression
Water Cycling for Anxiety & Depression

September 04, 2023 8 min read

For those with anxiety and depression, the water's gentle embrace offers solace, strength, and a path to rejuvenation and wellbeing. 
Water Exercise for Bone Health
Water Exercise for Bone Health

August 31, 2023 4 min read

Water exercise is proving effective for bone health, has lower risks of fracture, & puts less stress on the joints. It also comes with less risk & additional health benefits. 
Get Started
Enquire today to get started