A knee replacement surgery affects various aspects of your life, but it also provides you a chance to be fit and active once again. After you’ve recovered, you can think of doing many activities that were very difficult or painful for you earlier. Usually, one can resume most of the regular activities after 12 weeks of knee replacement surgery. However, it is essential to stay active and move your joints, as your therapist suggests, during this recovery period.
Guidelines for exercise and daily activity
Though it’s a new ray of hope to be moving without pain, most people get nervous about damaging their newly-replaced knee joint if they do some physical activity after the surgery. These days, the artificial knee replacements are designed just like a natural knee, which means that just as a natural knee needs exercise to operate well, this new one too needs movement to function properly. Most of the doctors recommend about 30 minutes of low-impact exercises at least two to three times a week during the early stages of recovery. They also advise what activities can be done as per a person’s individual needs and overall health.
Physical therapy immediately after the surgery
Don’t be surprised when the physical therapy (PT) starts within a day of your surgery. A physical therapist would start visiting you in your hospital room and demonstrate some exercises that you should begin doing right away. You can trust the therapist that he would teach you moves that are completely safe as you would have fresh stitches along with a brand-new knee. These immediate exercises help in strengthening your joint and leg, restoring knee movement, and help you to walk on your newly-replaced knee.
Prescribed exercises after the surgery
You will be recommended multiple exercises to do daily so that the recovery speeds up. For quick and best results, most doctors stress that the patient must exercise a couple of times every day after the knee replacement surgery. You also may be required to walk for half an hour or more daily, depending upon your health and condition.
Day 1: A PT helps you in getting out of bed and how to put weight on your knee for the first time. He also assists you in taking a few steps with the help of a walker. Then, the therapist suggests you some bedside exercises to tighten your thigh muscles. They also make you move your foot up and down or pump your ankle to stretch your calf muscles and shin.
Day 2: You should practice those exercises and bend and straighten your knees. You’ll also need to walk a little farther, using a walker or maybe crutches.
Days 3-5: Mostly, people are discharged and sent to a rehab center or sent back home. The PT would keep visiting you and help you do the exercises and might even ask you to climb some stairs.
Week 1-4: Gradually, your exercises would increase as your knee gets stronger. Now, you may walk a more significant distance with your walker. You might require the support of only a cane or just one crutch to walk. The PT might even ask you to use an exercise bike and start with pedaling backward first. You would be allowed to pedal forward only when your knee gets strong enough.
Post week 4: After four weeks, your PT could add some light weights to bring in resistance. The patient needs to strictly perform the recommended exercises for a minimum of two months post the surgery.
Some tips to stay fit after a knee replacement surgery
Besides the exercise regime, here are some tips that would help you:
- Focus on low-impact sports or activities recommended and safe for your knee. For example, yoga, swimming, walking, playing golf, etc.
- Find a sport or any activity that you like doing, which makes you happy for your overall health.
- Take care of consistency and do your exercises at least 3-4 times every week to keep the muscles flexible and conditioned.
- Walking is also good, and if your doctor gradually allows you, then biking is even better.
- Remember that the gym is not necessary. You can do many exercises in the comfort of your own home, like working out with a physioball. Your physical therapist can help create a customised home program for you, depending on your needs.
- After completing your exercises, spend some time stretching your knees as it’s essential to maintain the flexibility of your knees.