Total knee replacement surgery is a surgical procedure to fix the knee after it is totally or partially damaged. People suffering from degenerative diseases like arthritis or those who incurred a severe knee injury might need this surgery. During the procedure, the knee joint is replaced with prosthetic implants. As it is major surgery, the complete recovery can take around six months. However, you can start living a normal life within 12 weeks after the surgery.
Exercise and activity after the surgery
Many patients expect that the knee movement will be restored completely immediately after the surgery. However, keep in mind that restoring the full movement is possible only if you perform the exercises and other physical activities recommended by the doctors. The doctor or the physical therapist will not advise rigorous exercise and activity after surgery. You are expected to consistently take one step at a time. Exercises help strengthen the knee muscles and make recovery easy.
Ideally, you should indulge in physical activity for two hours every day. That includes doing exercise for 30 minutes (2 to 3 times) and walking for 30 minutes (2 to 3 times)
Types of exercises/activities
Following are the types of exercises you can do after undergoing a knee replacement surgery:
- Low impact exercises
- Training to improve strength and flexibility
- Exercises through recreation
Low Impact Exercises
Aerobic exercises are a form of low-impact exercise that put minimum pressure on the knees. Some aerobic exercises are:
Walking is an aerobic activity that strengthens the knee muscles. The high impact exercises like running and jumping cannot be done after total knee replacement. An alternative to high-impact exercises is walking. Always start with shorter distances and keep a track of the distance covered each day and track the changes in knee functionality periodically.
Swimming is one of the best ways of exercising without putting too much pressure on the artificial knees. Aqua-aerobics and water running are other water exercises are some more options you can consider. Swimming makes the body energetic and keeps up the cardio-vascular fitness levels high. But make sure you consult a doctor before you step into the pool.
Cycling indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors on a cycle helps maintain fitness without stress on joints. Track the distance covered regularly to assess the improvement cycling has on your knees.
Dancing is a great way to loosen the pressure on joints. Simple movements without twists and turns can be of great benefit to your knees.
Training to improve strength and flexibility
Weightlifting is an activity that puts pressure on the knees. However, it also improves the muscle strength and boost s bone growth. It is advisable to check with your doctor before getting started with weightlifting activity. A physical therapist can chart a weightlifting plan for you depending on your strength and stage of recovery.
Yoga is a great way to exercise. It promotes both physical and mental well-being. You can start doing yoga after 12 weeks from knee replacement. But make sure you keep your doctor informed. Note that while yoga gives the body the freedom to stretch and improves flexibility, you should avoid twists and turns which can aggravate pains.
Calisthenics helps in building body strength. They are done rhythmically and the routine depend on the person’s body weight. You can perform simple routines and avoid high-impact exercises in calisthenics.
Exercises through recreation
Golf is a good recreation as well as an exercise that strengthens your lower and upper body. It involves walking and swinging. It improves muscle tone and endurance. It is better to get an opinion from your doctor before proceeding to the golf court.
Tennis – Doubles
Tennis- doubles requires less knee movement compared to Singles Tennis. It helps in strengthening muscles. It is better to avoid more running on the court for people after knee replacement.
Rowing is a good exercise that strengthens your hand muscles with minimal pressure on the knees. The knees should be placed at 90 degrees to avoid pressure on them.
Bowling at a very high speed after the surgery is harmful to knees. However, a lighter ball thrown at minimal speed does not hurt.
Every person is different. Every recovery process is different. Do not stress yourself too much to expedite recovery. If you experience any discomfort or pain while performing exercises, reach out for medical assistance as soon as possible.