Knee replacement surgery is a common treatment for people with chronic (long-term) knee pain. Having this surgery can give you a new lease on life but how far can you push that new knee? Here we take a look at sports and activities that you can do after you’ve recovered from knee replacement surgery.
Recovering from your surgery will take time, so set your expectations accordingly. There are several different types of knee replacement surgery, including partial knee replacement, total knee replacement and revision surgery, where you have a previous knee replacement redone. The type of surgery you have will make a difference to your recovery time. Whatever type of knee replacement you have, you will need to go through surgery rehabilitation, with physiotherapy exercises to help you recover.
Recovery from knee replacement surgery usually takes three to six months and during this time you’ll gradually become more active. When you’ve recovered enough to think about exercising again, start with low-impact exercises to help strengthen your new knee without putting too much strain on it.
Activities such as walking and swimming are ideal. They’ll build up strength while giving you a gentle aerobic workout. It’s important to increase your activity levels gradually and to stop if you feel any pain or notice any swelling. Other suitable low-impact exercises include cycling, particularly on a stationary bike where you can control the distance and difficulty, as well as gentle dancing and yoga — you will need to inform your dance or yoga instructor of your surgery and avoid certain movements that twist the knee.
Everyone’s recovery is different but generally high-impact sports should be avoided after a knee replacement. High-impact activities involve movements that apply a considerable force to your joints and bones, such as running and jumping. Playing sports such as football, rugby and tennis are therefore not good for your new knee joint.
If you’re a gym lover there are plenty of activities you can do when you’re ready to hit the gym again. In addition to stationary cycling, a cross trainer is a great alternative to running as your feet are supported and you move your legs in a circular motion, which avoids the impact of running on a flat surface.
If you’re into strength training, lifting weights can be a good way to build up your knee strength. It’s a good idea to have a session with a physiotherapist or personal trainer before you start so they can help you plan a low resistance programme that will be good for your new knee.
If you like to socialise while you exercise, try a round of golf, bowling, lawn bowls or a dance class. With all of these activities, make sure you warm up first, take care with your movements and don’t be afraid to make adjustments, such as using a lighter bowling ball.
If you’re not sure whether an activity will be good for your knee, talk to your physiotherapist or doctor. You will have follow-up appointments after your knee replacement surgery to check on your recovery, so this is an ideal time to ask about what activities are right for you. Staying active is an important part of your recovery and it will also help you to stay fit, maintain a healthy weight and support good mental health.
If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.
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Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager
Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences. Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.
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Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing
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