Knee Replacement Exercises
In the weeks and months following total knee replacement you’ll need to double down on your commitment to recovery and that starts with exercising. If you came home after surgery and simply laid on the couch with your feet up for 3 months at the end of that time your knee would not be strong enough to support your weight. So exercise is as important to fixing what ails your knee as the surgery itself. Below we’re going to look at a number of total knee replacement exercises you should consider doing in the postoperative period to ensure you get as much as possible out of your reconstructed knee.
7 Total Knee Replacement Exercises to Try at Home
Often the last thing people who have had knee replacement want to think about when they return home from hospital is exercising. While we understand we also need to point out that unless you exercise your newly reconstructed knee simply won’t live up to its promise. So here are 7 total knee replacement post op exercises that are easy to do at home.
1. Stationary Bike – This is one you’re going to want to get into after a month or so of less strenuous exercises. Even then you’re going to want to be cautious and incrementally ramp up the intensity. The stationary bike helps build cardiovascular health but it also strengthens the quads, which is particularly important in the wake of knee surgery. It’s a safe, non-impact alternative to running which will provide essentially the same benefit but without any of the risks. Pushing down harder on the pedal with the leg that’s had the knee replacement surgery will provide maximum benefit to your restructured knee.
2. Hip Flex – The exercises you undertake in the aftermath of total knee replacement surgery should be designed to strengthen the entire leg and the hip because these areas help stabilize the knee. This knee replacement exercise is extremely low impact yet it will help strengthen the hips and glutes as well as the inner and outer thigh muscles. To perform it simply lie on your side with your knees bent and lift the top knee while keeping your feet together.
3. Foot lifts – This exercise puts no direct pressure on your knee and is one of the best exercises to straighten the leg after knee replacement. It doesn’t require any fancy equipment, only a firm chair and your willingness to do it. Sit on the chair with your feet flat on the floor and then raise the foot (on the leg with your repaired knee) until the leg is straight out (or as close to straight out as you can get). Hold it there for 5 seconds and then slowly lower it back to the floor. Repeat 20 times (or as many as possible) 3 times a day.
4. Knee lifts – One thing you’re trying to prevent with total knee replacement post op exercises is the development of scar tissue within the reconstructed knee. Therefore keeping the knee moving is important. This is an incredibly simple exercise anyone at any stage of recovery can do which will help stave off knee stiffness and scar tissue. To perform it lay flat on your back on the floor. Slowly lift the affected knee. As you lift the knee the heel should slide along the floor. Raise the knee as far as you can then slowly return it to flat again. Repeat 20 times, 3 times a day.
5. The sitting march – This is a great, low impact all around knee replacement exercise that doesn’t require any equipment. Find a firm, stable chair and sit with both feet firmly on the floor in front of you. Keeping your back straight lift and lower one leg and then the other at a moderate pace as if you were marching. This exercise will help strengthen the quads, keep the knee from stiffening up and improve circulation in the legs which is vital for the knee to heal properly. “March” this way for 1 minute twice a day. Or anytime you are sitting in one place for more than 20 minutes.
6. Back foot lifts – When it comes to gym exercises for knee replacement this one is great for keeping the knee loose, improving range of motion and building strength in all the muscles around the new knee joint. For this one you’ll need to be standing straight up (if you want or need to you can hold onto a table or chair for stability). Stand straight and lift the foot of the affected leg until it comes as close as you can get it to your rear end. Hold it there for 3 seconds and then return it to the floor in a controlled motion. Make sure your thigh stays straight up and down and don’t bend forward as you lift your foot.
7. The heel raise – The goal of this knee replacement exercise is to strengthen the oft-ignored calf muscle. Calf muscles play a vital role in supporting the knee and absorbing downward pressure as you walk. There’s nothing fancy involved here just a simple motion that will help strengthen the lower portion of your leg. Stand straight up holding onto something for stability if you wish. Your back should be straight and your feet a few inches apart. Using only your leg muscles lift yourself up on your toes until your heels are as high off the ground as you can get them. Hold it for 3 seconds and then lower yourself down again slowly. Repeat 20 times 3 times a day.
When it comes to the pros and cons of knee replacement one of the cons is the need for total knee replacement post op exercises after surgery. But it doesn’t have to be a big deal or require that you invest in an expensive health club membership (unless you want to of course). With just a few simple total knee replacement exercises you can provide yourself with the best possible chance of enjoying a successful recovery.