How to Prepare for Knee Replacement Surgery with Exercise

Seated Hamstring Curl with Band

What can you do pre operation waiting for a knee replacement?

There is so much emphasis and education on post operation knee replacement recovery that you may feel there is nothing you can do, but wait. Not only is there a lot you can do to relieve pain, maintain mobility, and recover stronger, but also you will improve how you feel and have a way more successful outcome post surgery. Many of you may be experiencing so much pain around your knee joint that it feels counter intuitive to exercise which is why you feel it is safer to wait. Let us just take a look first of all at what happens when you decrease or stop exercise.

Here are the changes that occur in your body and muscles when you stop moving or decrease your activity:

1) Muscles tighten and tight muscles can increase pain
2) Range of Motion around your joints decreases which limits function
3) Muscle strength deteriorates causing weakness and inability
4) Your cardiovascular or heart health and stamina decrease
5) Lack of use reduces ones ability to balance and your coordination
6) Every day activities become difficult and independence is challenged

You can limit the impact your knee arthritis has on your overall health by engaging in some simple targeted exercises. It is important to select the right exercises that will not cause pain or increase inflammation. The good news is there are a lot of exercise options available to you that will benefit you pre knee replacement surgery.

What are the benefits you will gain by exercising pre knee replacement surgery?

1) Maintain or increase range of motion around your knee

2) Maintain or gain strength in muscles that stabilize the knee

*Muscles can absorb shock lessening the stress of loads placed on the knee joint. Also, it is well documented that people who have good quadriceps strength will recover better post knee replacement surgery.

3) Exercise and stretching eases tight muscles which can lead to a
decrease in pain. It has been noted that a large portion of the pain
associated with knee arthritis can be attributed to tight muscles.

4) You will prevent a serious decline in cardiovascular health

5) You will boost energy, mood, and your confidence

6) You will limit the deterioration of your balance and coordination

7) You will drastically improve your ability to recover stronger and
faster than those who do not exercise pre operation

Now that you grasp the importance and benefits of why exercise is essential pre knee replacement surgery, where do you proceed from here? When selecting a type of exercise that is good for your knee having arthritis and possibly pain as well, follow these three guiding principles:

Non Weight Bearing

Most likely you are at the stage where you experience pain upon walking or weight bearing whether it is with every step or only after a specified time on your feet. If you fit into this category then you will want to select non weight bearing exercise options such as stationary cycling and swimming. Most importantly, you need to know that there are a lot of non weight bearing strength exercises you can choose from as well.

Range of Motion

The very nature of osteoarthritis is the deterioration of range of motion at your joint. The deterioration occurs due to a breakdown in cartilage between your bones leaving the point of friction at your joint bone on bone. This breakdown in the joint structure and the subsequent pain lead to a decrease in range of motion at your knee. Therefore, it is extremely important to do knee range of motion exercises including flexion and extension pre operation. There are non weight bearing range of motion exercises you can do that will help you maintain flexibility at your knee joint.

Quadriceps Strength – Especially VMO Strength

Now do not go shying away at the mention of the word strength because it does not involve heavy weights or fancy equipment. There are simple at home strength exercises you can do with little or minimal aids that will strengthen your quadriceps muscle. This muscle is the most important muscle you want to target keeping strong before you go in for surgery. Even just learning how to fire or contract this muscle and hold the contraction for a few seconds will help you recover strong post knee replacement surgery.

Your VMO muscle or Vastus Medialis Obliques, thank goodness for abbreviations, is one of the four quadriceps muscles that sits on the medial or inside of your knee closest to the joint. Having the ability to strengthen and contract this muscle is extremely important for knee rehabiliation and it also aids in extension of your knee. There are numerous exercises you can do at home to strengthen this muscle with little or no equipment.

These 3 guiding principles need to be the cornerstone of your exercise selection as you prepare for your new knee. If you could only see the results and know the comparisons I have witnessed by my clients who did exercise pre surgery in relation to those who do not, you would begin exercising today. Often my clients would report less pain post exercise, feel they loosened up, experience greater confidence in their physical ability, and also have a boost in mood and energy. Need I say more? The evidence is clear, the results are incredible, and now it is all up to you.

Where to begin Your Pre Op Knee Replacement Exercise Program – Getting Started!

If you prefer one on one attention, seek out the help of a qualified personal trainer or physiotherapist who will design a safe, effective exercise program for you. You also have the option of learning in the comfort of your home from an exercise specialist who has helped hundreds of joint replacement clients prepare for and recover from surgery. She led a community joint replacement class for over a decade that helped people pre and post knee replacement operation. All of her knowledge and experience is compiled in a user friendly guide in the format of an E-book and Video which you can view at www.kneereplacementexercises.net.