Get your knee in the best shape before surgery!
Knee exercises should not be overlooked if you are coming up to drastic knee surgery.
If your knee is in better shape going into theatre then it will be able to recover quickly. It will also act to strengthen your knee and improve your flexibility.
There are plenty of exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home that will help to prepare you.
You must, of course, seek medical advice from your physical therapist or doctor before you endeavor to begin new exercises, especially when your knee is already injured.
Exercises before a knee replacement should be undertaken with caution. Below are a few exercises before knee surgery that you can do at home to help prepare yourself.
Exercises in preparation for knee replacement surgery
This is why we have compiled some of the best exercises to practice prior to your surgery.
This will ensure that you are in the best physical health for a quick recovery!
1. Thigh squeezes
The thigh squeeze exercise is designed to build up the quadriceps muscle that attaches to the knee.
Begin by laying on your back and tighten the muscles in the front of your thigh. As you do so, push the back of your knee down toward the floor.
Hold this position for 5 seconds and then release it. Perform a total of 3 sets of a minimum of 5 repetitions.
2. Side-lying straight leg raises
The side-lying straight leg raises are crucial in building your abductor muscles which are located on the side of the buttocks.
They act to stabilize your pelvis while standing or walking.
The start you should be laying on your side. Lift your leg straight up to the ceiling at about 0.5m from your opposite leg.
Lower to the starting position and repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.
Then, lay on your back, putting your injured leg flat against the surface below, whether that be a bed or the floor.
Bend the other leg for some added support. Raise your injured leg from the ground about 30cm and then hold it in place for about 5 seconds.
Lower your leg back down and repeat for 3 sets of 5 to 20 repetitions, depending on your ability level and how your knee joint is responding to the exercise.
3. Straight leg raises
Straight leg raises will assist in building the quadriceps and hip flexor muscles. They are especially important to regain strength in the said muscles post-surgery.
With your uninjured knee bent and feet flat on the floor, lay on your back. Tighten your uninjured thigh and lift the opposite leg to the height of the bent knee while keeping it straight.
Hold it in this position for 2 seconds before slowly lowering it back down to the starting position.
You will need to repeat this for 3 sets of 5 to 20 reps again.
To work your hip external rotators and parts of your shoulders you may want to try Clamshells.
Both these muscle groups are essential for early ambulation and also for your balance.
To start, lay on your side once more, having your injured knee pointing toward the ceiling.
Open and close your legs with your heels touching together, emulating a clamshell. This is of course how this exercise gets its name!
Complete a maximum of 3 sets of 5 to 20 repetitions in total to maximize the gains from this exercise.
5. Knee bending
To maintain the range of motion prior to your surgery, knee bending is a must. This will also of course assist in regaining the range of motion post-surgery.
Find a stable chair and sit, bending your knee back as far as you can. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then return to the start position once more.
In total, you will want to complete 3 sets of 5 to 20 reps.
6. Sitting kicks
Sitting kicks will strengthen your quadriceps muscles and help to maintain a full range of motion in your knee.
Again, you will need your stable chair to sit. Raise your leg in this seated position until it is straight out in front of you.
Hold this for 5 seconds before you endeavor to slowly lower your leg back down so your feet are touching the floor. Perform 3 sets of 5 to 20 reps.
7. Chair pushup
It may be necessary to use a cane or walking frame post-surgery after a total knee replacement.
The chair push up will strengthen your triceps, important muscle groups which are necessary should you need to support yourself with these walking aids.
Sit in a stable chair to start. Allow your arms to grasp the arms of the chair and push down, effectively raising your body by straightening your arms and elbows.
Slowly lower yourself back down to a seated position. repeat for a total of 3 sets with 5 reps each.
This is important as it will strengthen these muscles and you will be able to hold yourself up after surgery with minimal use of your legs.
8. Lying kicks
For the lying kicks, lay on the floor or bed, placing a rolled blanket or large can under your injured knee.
Straighten your leg and knee, holding this position for a total of 5 seconds.
Slowly lower your leg back down and allow yourself to rest.
Ensure that during this exercise the back of your knee stays in contact with the can or blanket so that it is supported throughout.
You will also want to keep the small of your back in contact with the floor.
This will not only strengthen your injured knee as a whole but will also strengthen your quadriceps muscle.
9. Stomach kickbacks
To strengthen your hamstrngs and gluteal muscles you may wish to try the stomach kickbacks.
Both these muscle groups are essential in getting in and out of the seated position in chairs and cars.
lay on your stomach with your legs straight, slowly bringing your injured leg toward the ceiling, ensuring that it remains straight.
Hold in this position for 2-3 seconds before slowly lowering your leg back down to the starting position.
Complete a total of 3 sets of 5-20 reps.
10. Standing on one leg with support
To maintain balance and reduce the risk of falls, this exercise is perfect.
There is no limit to this exercise each day, you should try it as many times as you can for the best results.
On a countertop or waist-level bar, stand in front and hold on to the stable surface. Stand on the injured leg only for 30 seconds.
Try not to depend on the countertop or bar for support and only hold it lightly. This will challenge your balance and yield the best results in the long run.
How else can you prepare?
Each day you will only need to spend 15 minutes in total on these exercises in order to prepare for your knee replacement surgery.
This will help to build strength in your muscles that surround the knee joint. It will also improve recovery time exponentially.
Other ways you can prepare for knee surgery is through a healthy diet and significant rest for your joint.
Frequently asked questions
Should you exercise before knee surgery?
Knee surgery is used to correct the knee joint problem, but a regular exercise program will strengthen your muscles and stretch them in order to reduce the likelihood of reinjury.
Starting your exercise program before surgery can have a positive impact on your recovery time.
How do I prepare for a knee replacement?
The most helpful thing to do is to get in shape. If you begin your exercise regime before surgery you can recover much quicker than without.
If you will require crutches or a walker then adding upper body exercises will also help you get around post-surgery.
Plan early to work around your surgery and ensure that everything is in place.
An overall healthy lifestyle, including diet and quitting bad habits such as smoking, is also going to help you prepare for your upcoming surgery.
Can you wait too long to have a knee replacement?
Waiting too long to have your knee replacement can have detrimental effects on your health.
Osteoarthritis can limit mobility and joint function over time, making you inactive and this can even lead to depression.
This is why it is best not to delay your knee replacement, to limit the effect on your lifestyle and mental health.