When recovering from a knee replacement surgery, you will need to exercise regularly to improve the strength and mobility of your leg. Your doctors will likely suggest that you exercise between 20 and 30 minutes a few times a week. It is also recommended that you walk around 30 minutes at least twice a day.
Some of the specific exercises that Dr. Samimi may suggest are below:
Early Postoperative Exercises
As soon as you can, you can start these exercises. Though you may feel some discomfort, exercising should actually reduce your pain and increase the speed of your recovery.
Contract your thigh muscle, and lay your knee straight. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds. Repeat about 10 times approximately every 12 seconds. Rest for one minute, and then repeat the circuit. You can keep doing this exercise until your leg is tired.
Straight Leg Raises
Straighten your knee, and tighten your thigh muscle. Raise your leg a few inches. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Slowly lower your leg. Repeat until your leg is tired. This exercise is also possible while sitting. In this case, hold your straightened knee with the other leg, and do as above.
Contract your lower leg to move your foot up and down. Do this for 2-3 minutes at a time, a few times an hour. This exercise is good to perform until swelling goes away.
Knee Straightening Exercises
Put a towel under your calf so that your heel does not though the ground. With your thigh tightened, attempt to straight your knee so that it touches the ground. Hold for 5-10 seconds, and repeat until leg is tired.
Bed-Supported Knee Bends
Bend your knee as far as you can while sliding your foot across the ground. Hold 5-10 seconds. Straighten, and repeat until leg is tired or until you can bend your knee all the way.
Sitting Supported Knee Bends
Sit on a seat so that you thigh is supported, and put your healthy foot behind the heel of the other leg. Then slowly bend your knee as far as you can. Hold for 5-10 seconds, and repeat until your leg is tired or until you can bend your knee all the way.
Sitting Unsupported Knee Bends
Sit on a seat so that you thigh is supported. Bend your knee until your foot touches the floor. Move your body forward so that your knee bends further. Hold for 5-10 seconds, and repeat until your leg is tired.
Soon after your surgery, you will begin to walk short distances in your hospital room and perform everyday activities. This early activity aids your recovery and helps your knee regain its strength and movement.
Simple walking helps significantly with your recovery. You should be able to start walking around soon after your surgery, even while still in the hospital. You can start with a walker or crutches before placing all your weight on your leg.
Try to balance your weight evenly while using a walker or crutches, and advance the walker or crutches short distances so that your affected leg moves slightly. Try to allow your entire foot to rest evenly on the ground. Your heel should touch first.
Take your time when walking, as walking with proper form is important. You can move faster and over longer distances as you recover and increasingly put more weight on your leg. You can shift to one crutch or a cane once you are able to walk more than 10 minutes. When you are using just one support, you should keep it on the side opposite to your injured leg. Try not to lean away from your affected leg, and try not to limp.
Stair Climbing and Descending
Use a handrail when you first start using stairs, and ascend or descend just one stair at a time. Let your good leg lead when you’re going up the stairs and your bad leg lead when you’re going down the stairs. Using the stairs is a great way to increase strength, flexibility, and endurance. However, you should not try to climb particularly steep stairs that are greater than about 7 inches.
Advanced Exercises and Activities
You can increase your activity once you are no longer relying on support for walking. It will take months before you fully recover, but the following activities can speed along the process.
Standing Knee Bends
Use a walker or crutches for support, and stand up straight. Raise your knee as much as you can, bending it. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Straighten your knee so that your heel touches the floor. Repeat until your leg is tired.
Assisted Knee Bends
Put a towel over your affected knee while lying on your back. Bend your knee as much as you can while applying pressure to the towel. Hold for 5-10 seconds, and repeat until your leg is tired.
Knee Exercises with Resistance
Each of the exercises above can be modified to increase their difficulty by adding weights. Adding resistance around 4-6 weeks after surgery can help improve the strength of your leg. You should start with 1-2 lb weights and increase incrementally based on how you feel.
Exercise bikes can help strength and mobility. If you choose to bike, be sure you use the bike properly and that the bike is adjusted to your height. Start pedaling backward before moving onto forward movement. You can increase the resistance on the pedals as you gain strength. Biking between 10 and 30 minutes per day 3-4 days a week is ideal.
Pain or Swelling after Exercise
Exercise may lead to some pain or swelling, which can be relieved with ice. However, the exercise should improve your strength and mobility and help you recover. If you have any specific questions about these exercises during your recovery, contact our office.