Best Exercises After a Knee Replacement
Sometimes a knee replacement is necessary to live a pain-free life and get back to daily activities that you were unable to do. Recovery is also important after a knee replacement. Why do you need physical therapy? What exercises can you do to have a speedy recovery?
If you are an individual that has gone in for a total knee replacement procedure, you need to give the recovery period some time. It is best to follow the aid and advice of your doctors in terms of physical exercises and recovery. You should avoid pushing yourself into doing something that might injure you further.
Knee Strengthening Exercises
You don’t have to go to the gym to strengthen your knees. There are simple knee strengthening exercises by Daily human care that you can do at home.
- Quad set
- Straight leg raise
- Leg curl
Steps to doing a quad set. Do one leg at a time.
- Lie on your back on your bed.
- Push your knee back into the bed and tighten your thigh (quads).
- Hold this position for five seconds.
- Relax and repeat this with the other leg.
- Do ten sets twice a day.
Straight leg raise
Steps to completing a straight leg raise
- Lie on your back on a bed with one leg straight. The other leg should be bent with your foot on the bed.
- Raise your straight leg about four to six inches off the bed.
- Hold this position for three to five seconds.
- Relax and do the same movement with the other leg.
- Repeat and do 10 sets.
Use a kitchen chair or the counter to do squats.
- Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your weight on your heels, squat down at a comfortable distance.
- Return to standing, being sure to use only your legs. Do not use your arms to pull yourself up or down.
- Repeat five to ten times.
You can also use a kitchen chair or the counter to do leg curls.
- Holding the back of a chair or counter, bend your knee and bring it back towards your butt.
- Do not bend your hip.
- Hold this position for a count of three.
- Lower your heel to the floor and do the same movement with the other leg.
- Repeat, working up to ten curls once or twice a day.
The inchworm is simple.
- Start by facing the wall.
- Inch your way along the wall by taking small side steps.
- Make sure you sidestep both left and right.
- Repeat five times, in both directions.
Another simple exercise is the clamshell.
- Lay on your side with both hips and knees bent towards your belly.
- Lift your top leg so that your entire top leg is outward and your hip rotates slightly with your knee up.
- This movement is only for your hip so do not let your trunk or pelvis move.
- Repeat five to ten times.
- Return your leg to the position from where you started and repeat the same on the opposite side.
Bridging is another simple strengthening exercise.
- Bend your knees and put your feet on the floor while lying on your back.
- Tense your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
- Apply pressure on your feet and lift your hips a few inches above the floor.
- Keep your shoulder blades in contact with the supporting surface.
- Tighten your glutes as you slowly lower your hips. Then repeat this entire process five to ten times.
Post Knee Surgery Exercises
Physical therapy is crucial after knee surgery. Physical therapy will speed up the recovery process. Physical therapists build a personalized plan to help you recover. Although it is individualized, the health benefits are for everyone. Physical therapy will help with the following:
- It will reduce inflammation
- Ease your pain
- Maintain your circulation
- It will restore your mobility and strength
- Help eliminate muscle stiffness
- Improve your balance
- Regain your gait
- Help you return to your regular daily activities and exercise
Here are several exercises and activities recommended that you can do on your own after a knee replacement. The internet is full of information and ideas but you should always consult your physical therapist or doctor.
- Weight lifting
You don’t want to overdo it after a knee replacement. However, short, light walks are a great start to getting your strength back. Always consult with your physical therapist or doctor, but two to three short walks a day are often recommended. Basically, you’d be walking one to two hours a day.
Low-impact aerobic exercises are best after a knee replacement. Here are some ideas.
- Swimming- This is a low-impact exercise and doesn’t put any stress on your knee replacement. The pool is good for your knee and many people resume swimming three to six weeks after surgery.
- Dancing- Ballroom or light modern dance is great because it engages the leg muscles and is light aerobic activity. However, you should avoid high-impact movements such as jumping.
- Cycling- Whether you’re on a bicycle or an exercise machine, cycling is another low-impact option. This will help strengthen your knee. If you’re on a bicycle be sure to stay on a flat, even surface. Don’t push yourself too much, but rather go shorter distances.
- Elliptical machines- These machines do not put stress on your knee. Since your knees move in a circular motion, you can go a longer distance. You can also use an elliptical machine in the place of running because you can keep a fast pace without putting stress on your knees.
Yoga can help your flexibility and prevent stiffness. It is good for your knees and ankles. Be sure you avoid twisting movements and keep your knees aligned with your hips and ankles. This will help protect your knee.
Your yoga instructor can also teach you poses and exercises that will put less strain on your knee.
Weight lifting is another way to build your strength after knee replacement surgery. Resistance training will also help you safely build up your strength. Again, everyone is different so consulting your doctor or physical therapist would be wise.
Also, consider some recreational activities that could be fun and low impact after knee surgery. Some examples include:
- Doubles tennis
There are many classes at gyms that you can enroll in. Rhythmic movements can help with strength and flexibility. Some exercise examples include push-ups, crunches, and lunges. Just remember to stay away from high-impact exercises.
Getting a “new” knee can be life-changing. Making sure you’re taking care of yourself after a knee replacement is essential for the best recovery. There are many orthopedic specialists who can help with knee replacement and recovery.