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Joint Replacement

According to an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, from 2013 there were over one million joint replacements performed in the United States, and that number was expected to increase to four million by the year 2020. The first total hip replacement was done in 1960, currently more than 300,000 total hip replacements performed each year in the United States.

As common as joint replacements are becoming, creating a strong base of muscular support for the new joint and teaching your body how to move and get around after surgery is crucial for post surgical recovery.

Knee Joint Replacement

The knee is a complex joint. It connects muscles from the front and back of your upper leg as well as muscles from your lower leg (calves) and has numerous ligaments attached within the actual structure of the knee.

knee replacement

The stronger and healthier your muscles are before surgery, the better your odds for a faster recovery. Depending on why you are having a knee replacement, will dictate what type of exercises you will be able to perform to help strength your legs ahead of time.

While trying to get into shape (pre-surgery), it is important that you strengthen both legs; leg extension exercisenot just the leg that is going to have the surgery. After surgery you will relying heavily on your healthy leg for support while standing and walking around, so make sure you take time to exercise both legs equally.

Arthritis – If your knee replacement is due to arthritis, you probably already know the pain and discomfort from the motion of bending and straightening the knee. However, there are still ways to help strengthen the muscles around the knee with minimal joint movement and pain.

Swimming – Reducing your body weight through the buoyancy of water can take a lot of pressure off your knee joint. If you are not a swimmer, water aerobic classes as well as walking or running forward, backwards and sideways is a great way at strength to your leg muscles. There are also devices that you can use to improve your leg muscles strength in the water.

 

 Ankle weights ankle weights
Aqua bootswater exercise boots
Waist band for running in water band for running in water

Exercises 

If knee joint movement is causing you to much pain to exercise your leg, there are options.

Straight Leg Raises

Isometric straight leg raise with ankle weight

There are two ways to do this exercise; laying down or sitting up. Which ever way you choose to do this exercise, make sure you use a towel rolled under your knee. This will protect the ligaments behind your knee when you lower your leg. The key to this exercise is to keep the knee straight at all times as you lift and lower the leg.

Laying down – Straight leg raises in a laying down position will be easier than doing this exercises in an upright position. The reason is your hip flexor muscles. These muscles actually help raise your leg when you body is elongated. When you are in a seated position, this muscle group shortens up and your quad muscles (top of the leg) has to do more of the work. Just be aware that when you do this exercise laying down you will have greater range of motion with the leg and lifting your leg higher off the ground so you need to be careful to lower the leg very slowly back to your starting position.

Seated Leg Raises – The first thing you will notice when performing this exercise is how much more work your quad muscles are doing, as well as the shorter range of motion that you can lift you leg off the ground. This is mostly due to the fact that your hip flexor muscles are not assisting you to lift the leg, as well as the position of the upper body.

If you want to increase the intensity of the exercise to improve the strength in the quad muscles you can add in an isometric segment into the either exercise movement. This may entail holding the leg for 2-3 seconds at the top of the exercise movement before slowly lowering the leg to the start position or adding an ankle weight to the exercise. NOTE: Using an ankle weight will add more stress to the knee joint, talk to you therapist or trainer before using an ankle weight.

Ankles – Every time you take a step or stand your ankles are working. You may not think about exercising your ankles, but they are a crucial part of supporting everything you do; from walking to jumping, as well as fall prevention.

Strengthening – Ankles work in many planes of motion. Strengthening these muscles is an important part of a pre surgical workout routine (as well as any regular fitness program)and can be done with some basic equipment.

Exercises for the anklesHalf Cylinders

Half Cylinders
Inversion
Dorsi Flexion start position
Dorsi Flexion toes up
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When working on the ankles, be careful not to rotate the ankles too hard. Most people do not spend time strengthening their ankles directly, so they are a relatively weak area compared to other parts of the body. When using half cylinders, do the exercises slowly and with very little impact and the end point of the exercises (inward and outward).

Balance Work – To read more about the benefits of balance exercises [Balance Page]

 

If your interested in purchasing bands or other exercise equipment here are some places you can do that.

Perform Better            Power Systems            Rogue Fitness         Exercise Equipment Reviews

Whatever type of exercise equipment you choose to use, always get professional help in making sure you are using the equipment correctly and that it is in good working condition.

 

 

DISCLAIMER

Important: The information on this site is not intended to treat or diagnose any injuries, illness or any type of acute or chronic conditions. Always consult your physician before starting any exercise program or any type of treatment for any type of health condition.