Americans are living longer than they used to, and requiring various kinds of advanced healthcare to ensure they remain active and vital as they age. One of the health interventions which is becoming increasingly common is knee replacement surgery. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, more than 600,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed in the United States each year. That number is expected to grow to more than 3 million over the next decade.
Physical Therapy Will Improve Outcomes
If you've had knee replacement surgery, your healthcare providers will work closely with you to ensure you heal properly and get back to your normal activities as quickly as possible. Among other things, they'll recommend a regimen of physical therapy, including exercises to increase muscle flexibility and strength, promote healing by increasing blood flow, and improve mobility.
Following are 5 simple, knee-strengthening exercises which are among the most common, and most beneficial, to help you heal after knee replacement surgery (plan on doing about 15 repetitions of each exercise several times each day for about 6 weeks):
1. The Knee Extension
This exercise will help to strengthen your quadriceps and give your knee greater flexibility. To perform it, you should sit in a firm chair. While sitting, slowly raise your foot and gently extend your knee to straighten your leg. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Now, slowly (and without jerking) lower your foot back down to the floor.
2. The Quad Squeeze
Your quadricep muscles are located at the front of your thigh. These muscles help support the knee joint, so it's important to strengthen them after knee replacement.
To perform your quad squeezes, lie flat on your back with your legs extended. Contract your quadricep muscles. As you contract, keep your leg as straight as possible, attempting to press the back of the knee against the bed (don't apply more pressure than is comfortable for you). Hold the contraction for about 5 seconds, relax and repeat 10 to 15 times.
3. The Short Arc Quad
Following surgery, it's important to regain range of motion in your hip and knee. The short arc quad is designed to achieve this result.
Again, lie on your back with your legs extended. Support your knee with a blanket or rolled towel. Your knee will be bent slightly. Slowly lift your heel off the bed to straighten your leg and hold it for about 5 seconds. Now, lower your heel slowly back down.
4. The Heel Slide
This exercise works the quads and the hamstring muscles. Like the short arc quad, it's purpose is to improve range of motion. Lie on your back with your legs extended. Now, gently flex your hip and your new knee by lifting the knee off the bed and sliding your foot on the bed. While performing this exercise, be sure to keep your other leg straight. Hold this for approximately 10 seconds.
5. The Ankle Pump
The ankle pump exercise is designed to strengthen your lower-leg muscles and improve blood circulation. When you stimulate the flow of blood in your legs, you reduce the risk of swelling and, more importantly, blood clots. To perform ankle pumps, you should lie flat on your back while keeping your legs extended. Prop your ankle using a blanket or a rolled-up towel. Flex your foot. You want to push your heel away from your body with your toes pointed up and towards your body. As with the quad squeezes, hold the flexing for about 5 minutes.
One of the benefits of these and similar post knee-replacement exercises is that you don't need any fancy equipment, and you can do them on your own in your home. That said, you should always consult with an experienced physical therapist or other healthcare provider before initiating any new exercise regimen. These are highly-trained professionals with the knowledge and experience to ensure the exercises you perform are safe and will help you regain the strength and flexibility to return to your normal activities.
Our Goal: To Help You Get Back to Your Life
At Church Home LifeSpring, our focus is on improving your skills to get you back to the life and the activities you enjoyed before your surgery. To learn more about our short-term rehabilitation, long-term care and hospice/respite care services, contact us today.