How to Stay Active After Knee Surgery

womangettingreadtoworkoutIt’s important to stay active after knee surgery. You may be used to taking it easy before you had surgery due to knee pain and weakness. Now that you've had surgery to correct the problem, a home exercise program will help reduce swelling and increase your knee strength and range of motion. Exercise is an important way to get back to your normal activity level.

Before you begin any exercise program, check with your doctor or physical therapist. Follow their recommendations as to when you can start your exercise program, how much you should exercise, and the types of exercise that are best for you.

Walking

The simplest and easiest way to get moving is walking. You can walk indoors or walk outdoors to get the added benefits of fresh air and sunshine.

Swimming

Swimming is a great way to stay active after knee surgery that is low-impact. You should be able to start swimming as soon as the wound is sufficiently healed. Consult with your doctor about the best time to start swimming.

Cycling

Cycling can help you build strength in your knee. You can use a bike outdoors (stay on flat surfaces) or an indoor exercise bike. If you choose an indoor bike, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends you peddle backward as you progressively gain your strength back.

Dancing

Gentle dance movements that are not twisty or abrupt is a great way to use leg muscles and also get in a mild aerobic workout. Avoid jumping or kicking motions that can put more impact on the knee.

Strengthening Exercises

All of these exercises can be performed while lying in bed:

Heel Slides

Lie down on your back. Bend your hip and knee while sliding your heel along the bed towards your buttocks. Slide your heel back away from your body to the start position. Your kneecap should be pointed up toward the ceiling during this exercise.

Leg Lifts

Lie down on your side. Keep your leg straight, and lift it toward the ceiling. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower.

Kicks While Lying Down

Lie down on your back. Put a rolled-up towel (at least 6 inches round) under your knee. Straighten your leg and hold for 5 seconds. Slowly lower your leg and relax. The back of your knee should stay in contact with the towel.

Leg Slides

Lie down on your back. Slide your leg out to the side, keeping your leg in contact with the bed. Slide back to the start position. Your kneecap should be pointed up toward the ceiling during this exercise.

Thigh Squeezes

Lie down on your back. Squeeze your thigh muscles by pushing the back of your knee down towards the bed. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax.

After knee surgery, exercise can be your primary tool for restoring normal knee strength and range of motion, so you can walk or run normally. Consult with your doctor and physical therapist after knee surgery. Then get started on your knee exercises, so you can safely and quickly get back to your normal activity level.

If you are experiencing knee pain or a decrease in knee mobility, a consultation with an orthopedic specialist may be the first step towards discovering a treatment and recovery plan that is right for you. Dr. Burrus is an experienced fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who is dedicated to providing high-quality, specialized holistic care. Call (512) 477-6341 or fill out the form on this page to schedule an appointment.