Strengthen Your Knees, Conquer Surgery: 4 Pre-Op Exercises For Total Joint Replacement

Gearing Up For Total Joint Replacement?

Thanks to total joint replacement, years of chronic joint pain can be a thing of the past. Millions of American adults struggle with joint pain, particularly in major joints like the hips, knees, shoulders, and ankles. The pain is often due to the degeneration of cartilage and bone by arthritis, which leads to rubbing, pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. A total knee replacement (TKR) removes the damaged cartilage and bone and installs a highly functional prosthesis. To get the most out of surgery, doctors recommend pre-op exercises to prepare for a long journey with a new joint.

The power of pre-op knee exercises

Total joint replacement has transformed over the years to be minimally invasive. This strategy allows for less pain, smaller scars, and faster healing. Therefore, patients can enjoy the use of the joint faster than with traditional open surgery. However, total joint replacement has even more benefits if the patient begins exercising the knee several weeks before the procedure. Pre-op exercises strengthen the surrounding joint, which supports the surgical procedure. Rehabilitation can also be started faster, with many patients beginning the first week after minimally invasive joint replacement. Pre-op exercises also give patients a head start on physical therapy (PT), meaning there is less pain and a better response to treatment. Here are 4 of the best exercises to strengthen the knees before surgery.

1. Try straight leg raises

Pre-op exercises are easy to perform and are often done lying down or seated. Straight leg raises are a full lower extremity exercise, targeting major muscle groups like the quadriceps and calf muscles. To perform the exercise, lie face up on a yoga mat or bed with both legs straight and together. Bend the healthy knee, placing the foot flat on the floor or bed. Raise the other leg off the floor or bed, keeping the knee straight. Hold the leg in the air for at least 5 seconds, then return to the starting position. Only raise the leg to a comfortable distance and perform multiple repetitions as a physical therapist or doctor advises.

2. Slide those heels

When performed correctly, a heel slide targets the calf, ankle, hamstring, and core muscles. To begin, assume a face-up prone position. The goal is to slide the heel of the affected knee toward the buttocks until the knee is bent and the foot is flat on the ground or bed. Hold the leg upright, then slide the heel back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise as many times as needed, at least once daily. Before lying down, place a smooth object, like an exercise slider, cardboard, or plastic bag, to make sliding easier.

3. Leg adduction and abduction

Strengthen the inner quadriceps, hamstring, and glutes with a leg adduction and abduction exercise. Lie flat on a mat or bed with straight legs and both kneecaps pointing to the ceiling. Slide the affected leg away from the body without bending the knee. Hold the position for a few seconds, then return the leg to the starting position. Repeat the exercise as needed and switch to the healthier leg as well to achieve balance.

4. Strengthen the hamstrings with kickbacks

To effectively target the hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles, try kickback exercises. Lie face down with the legs straight in a prone position. Raise the affected leg off the ground or bed, keeping the knee as straight as possible. Hold the position for a few seconds, then lower the leg back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise as needed.

Get the best out of surgery

Chronic knee arthritis, if left untreated, can lead to severe instability, limited mobility, and reduced productivity. A total knee replacement is an excellent choice for reducing pain and restoring functionality. The new prosthetic joint can last several years and allow patients more mobility. Exercises improve the success and function of the joint both before and after surgery. Gear up for a more successful joint replacement by committing to pre-op exercises several weeks in advance.

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2024-05-20T15:30:06-05:00
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