Once you return home from a knee replacement, it is tempting to just relax and take it easy. It is important to exercise though after the surgery to help build strength and prevent complications. Exercising is a crucial component to the healing process after a knee replacement. The exercise will also improve motion in your knee to help get your activity level back to where it was before the surgery.
A regular exercise program is beneficial for the weakened muscles. Your commitment to the exercises will determine how quick and how well you recover from the surgery. You should try to exercise a couple of times a day, every day, following the surgery.
The knees will probably feel weak at first, because they were most likely not used much due to the knee problems before surgery. Some exercises could also cause knee pain or excessive swelling, and that particular activity should be limited. There are other exercises that can be beneficial though. Here is a list of the best exercises to do if you have just had a knee replacement.
- Heel Slides
After a knee replacement, the knee will become regularly stiff. Bending the knee may be painful, but it will be beneficial in the end. It is important to regain the full range of motion, and this exercise will help to do so. Lay on your back with your non-replacement knee straight out in front of you. Bend the other knee and slide that heel close to your buttocks while keeping your heel down. Keep your knee at this angle for a few seconds, and then slide your heel back down to the starting position. Do three sets of ten reps and then rest.
- Stationary Bike or Elliptical Machine
The quad muscles are essential to movement and stability in the knee, and both of these cardiovascular exercises will help strengthen the quads. It is much safer to participate in low-impact exercises instead of high-impact exercises like running. It is also beneficial to push down harder with the leg that has had a knee replacement to maximize the benefits of the exercise.
- Sitting Kicks
Grab a sturdy chair and sit in a normal position. Lift your foot and straighten your knee as much as possible. Try your best to keep your knees level like you were holding something in your lap. Hold this position for five seconds and then slowly lower your leg down and relax. Return to the starting position, and repeat the exercise with your other leg. You can do this exercise 5 times a week with 15 repetitions each time.
- The Clam
Strengthening your hips and glutes is also critical for knee stabilization. Lie on your side with your knees bent. Lift the knee positioned on top of your leg while keeping your feet touching. Hold the position for a second and let your leg back down to the starting position. Repeat three sets of twelve with each leg. Hip strengthening is often overlooked after a knee replacement, but this exercise will help you recover quickly and stay ahead of the pain.
- Knee Push Downs
This is another quad strengthening exercise to help rehabilitate your knee. Roll a towel up and place it under your ankles and lie on the floor. Press your knees down towards the floor by tightening your thigh muscles. Hold the position for five seconds and then repeat 20 times. This exercise will not only help build your quad muscles, but it will also improve the range of motion.
Recovery from a knee replacement will take time, but if you follow these exercise, you will be able to build strength quickly and get back to your normal self. Dedication and commitment are key for trying to exercise your knee after a replacement. If you would like more information on rehabilitation and recovery after a knee replacement, contact us today. We offer short-term physical therapy, and we can maximize your recovery outcomes while minimizing your recovery time.