Knee replacement can be tricky to recover from since whatever caused a need for knee replacement likely caused pain that limited activity and exercise. This then leads to supporting muscles that are already weak, which can result in a longer recovery time following surgery.
However, a consistent exercise regimen after surgery is crucial for a successful and shorter recovery. You will likely meet with a physical therapist 2 or 3 times per week, but you should be doing your exercises several times each day when at home.
The Best Exercise After Knee Replacement
For those looking for the single best exercise to do after their knee replacement surgery with the knee replacement specialist, look no further than walking. In fact, you will want to start walking as soon as the anesthesia wears off and your care team deems it safe for you to get up.
Walking is the best exercise after a knee replacement because it is a simple way to begin your exercise program and is easy to complete.
At first, you will use a walker or crutches when walking to limit how much weight you put on your leg. This allows you to regain movement in your knee without putting too much weight on it. As your muscles increase in strength and your endurance improves, you can gradually increase how long you walk and how much weight you put on your leg until you no longer need the walker or crutches.
Once walking becomes easier, you can then advance to climbing stairs, which further increases strength.
The good thing about walking is that it is a low-impact exercise where you do not need to worry as much about overexerting yourself and causing injury. Additionally, it is easy to complete because no other equipment is required.
Additional Exercises After Knee Replacement
While walking is the best exercise following a knee replacement (and what truly gets your recovery kickstarted), it is still essential to perform other exercises focused on strengthening specific muscles that aid the knee joint.
Straight Leg Raises
To increase strength in the thigh muscles, lie flat with your legs straight, then raise your affected leg several inches. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds before slowly lowering it. Over time, you can increase the hold time or add ankle weights, as instructed by your physical therapist.
To focus on movement in the knee joint, once again lie flat with your legs straight. Then, slide the heel of the affected leg toward your buttocks, causing the knee joint to bend. Slide the heel back out, then repeat.
Yet another exercise that assists with healing is called floor polishing. Sitting in a sturdy chair, bend the affected knee back and forth as much as you can for 30 seconds at a time. Then, hold the foot in the back position for 30 seconds.
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Exercising for Recovery
Knee replacement recovery can be a long process, but exercising can help speed it up and leave you more capable of resuming your before-injury activity level. The best exercise for everyone to prioritize after surgery is walking, which helps strengthen your muscles and increase movement in the knee joint. From there, check with your physical therapist to see what other exercises they recommend, and be sure to complete them on your own, not just when at the physical therapist.
For more information about how to facilitate your knee replacement recovery, reach out to San Diego Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center with any questions.