A knee replacement, most often, is no joke. I’m here to help you get back on your feet quicker using a few simple exercises. Not only will you feel good doing these exercises, but you will also improve the long-term results of your surgery.
Let’s start at the beginning: joint replacement is typically preceded by a great deal of pain. To get some relief from the ongoing irritation and/or stabbing jolts of pain, the body finds new ways to move. Walking is a good example, and pre-surgery knee pain can often create alterations in walking mechanics (such as developing a limp as the body tries to protect and minimize discomfort (source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12443949)).
Fast forward: you’ve had a successful knee replacement surgery, but you still walk with a limp. How can that be? You no longer have any pain. Unfortunately, compensations made when you were in pain teach the body a whole new walking motor program, and in your post-rehab phase, these need to be reprogrammed.
Many post-rehab programs are limited to exercises while sitting or lying on the ground, but we need to be flexible and strong as we navigate through the day. Therefore, a complete program for knee replacement should include knee-specific flexibility and strength exercises along with moves to reprogram the body for proper walking mechanics.
3 Exercises for Walking Better
Try this simple land routine to help re-learn the motor program for walking:
1. Wall Bump (side to side)
Stand perpendicular to a wall, with just enough space to comfortably swing your arm front to back. Soften the knees and slide the hips side to side reaching toward the wall. Coach Tip: As you move the hips right to left, work at a comfortable pace. Maintain a nice fluid motion and avoid turning the hips. If you are a good distance and knees are soft, you might ‘bump’ the wall.
2. Arm Swing (front to back)
Now swing the arm closest to the wall front to back. Let momentum help create a relaxed back and forth motion.Coach Tip: Soften the knees.
Put these two exercises together: Wall bump with arm swing. Coach Tip: Let the hips glide towards the wall as the hand reaches behind the body.
3. Arm Reach (rotate)
Using the arm furthest from the wall, reach for the wall, keeping the arm at shoulder height.
Put all 3 moves together: Wall bump with arm swing and arm reach. Coach Tip: Allow the hips to follow the reaching and swinging arms (hips shift back while rotating towards the wall).
Better Range with Buoyancy
If you have access to a pool, try this aquatic version using similar arm actions with the legs in a lunge position. You’ll notice we modified the front to back arm swing to work on a diagonal line. Not only are you creating motion at the hip, but you are stabilizing at the core. Coach tip: Allow the hips to follow each arm reach.
Check out the exercise Lunge with reach below:
A Complete Program
Now all you need to do is add the exercises from our previous article on the “Top 5 Exercises for Knee Pain“ to focus on knee flexibility and strength to help improve knee function after joint replacement.
Want to get started with water workouts for knee health? WECOACH Workouts provides collections of workouts for mobility, strength, cardio and balance – perfect for your post-knee surgery rehab. Become a member to get this and everything else in WECOACH Workouts.