Common exercises after a joint replacement
If you’re gearing up for a total hip or knee replacement, chances are you have a lot of things on your mind. Perhaps you’ve talked with people who have had one of these procedures in the past. If so, they likely told you about the rehabilitation and recovery that takes place after a surgery. Maintaining a post-op physical therapy and exercise routine is essential to a successful outcome. In some cases, patients work directly with a physical therapist during regular clinic hours. Other times, patients may receive take-home instructions for recommended exercise strategies and movements. Regardless of the rehabilitation outlet that you choose, as the New York times recently reported, studies have shown that the most important thing is continued movement.
While you won’t be able to immediately jump back into your day-to-day routine, with time, you will be able to ease back into them. The key is consistency and correct movement. Here are a few of the exercises that you can expect to do following your procedure.
After a knee replacement
You may be wondering why exercise after your surgery is so important. Remember that strenuous movement strengthens your muscles and improves your joint flexibility. Additionally, exercising can help increase circulation in your legs and feet, which can prevent the development of blood clots.
In the first days after your knee replacement, your exercises will be moderate, although you will still likely feel strained. Quadricep sets, leg raises, and ankle pumps will beef up the leg muscles that surround your knee. You will also start doing knee bends and straightening exercises, likely with the support of a rolled towel or blanket. Many of these exercises can be done while lying down or sitting at your bedside. You will also be encouraged to walk short distances with the assistance of a walker or crutches. When using the stairs, you should have a handrail or the support of another person. Eventually, you will work your way up to standing knee bends, assisted knee bends, movement with resistance bands, and cycling on a bicycle machine.
After a hip surgery
Rehabilitation will begin almost immediately after your procedure and will focus on strengthening your muscles, improving your new hip’s movement, and preventing blood clots. Beginning exercises will include ankle pumps and bed-supported knee bends. Although these movements may not feel like they are directly related to your hip replacement, they are important for stability and do impact your recovery. You may also be encouraged to do buttock contractions, abduction exercises, quadricep sets, and leg raises. These can all be done from the comfort of your bed. Soon, you will graduate to standing exercises, which include knee raises, where your leg is lifted toward your chest; standing hip abductions, where your leg is lifted out to the side; and standing hip extensions, where your leg is lifted backward. For a time, you will need to use support, like a walker or crutches, when walking or using the stairs. As your recovery advances, so will your exercises. To challenge yourself, your therapist might recommend incorporating an elastic tube for resistance in movement.
Recovery can feel frustrating when you just want to be back to your normal routine, but taking it easy and being diligent with your exercise program can greatly improve your surgical outcomes.