Knee Replacement Exercises to Avoid

Knee Replacement Exercises to Avoid

You've endured constant aching and sharp pain in your knee for years.  A day, an hour, or even a moment where you can function without pain sounds like heaven on earth. Knee replacement surgery can bring such relief. 

Do you know what knee replacement exercises to avoid after surgery? If you've had knee replacement surgery, you should avoid any exercise that puts undue stress on the joint, and that requires a constant pounding of the joint. You should also avoid mental exercises that would lead to a negative attitude since your mind is one of your greatest tools during recovery

How to Recover From Knee Replacement Fast

Knee replacement is major surgery. The procedure itself takes only one to two hours. 

Recovery takes much longer. Experts estimate you will not regain full function and strength of your leg for a full six to twelve months after surgery.

If you want to recover as quickly as possible, you need to first listen to your physician. Take a spouse or close friend with you during your pre-operational appointments so you do not miss any advice. Have the same individual with you when you receive final instructions upon leaving the hospital again so you do not miss important details about your recovery.

You will most likely need to have a compression sleeve to wear over your incision to help keep the swelling down. Your doctor may even recommend a continuous progressive motion machine at home to keep your leg limber and improve your range of motion more quickly. 

Do your rehab exercises diligently. What you do matters. What you do not do matters even more. 

Ten Knee Replacement Exercises to Avoid

Your doctor and physical therapist will tell you which exercises to do at home so you can recover quickly. Here are ten exercises and things to avoid after recent knee replacement surgery. 

1. Dismissing Responsibility

Technically, this is not a physical exercise but a mental one. You will want to lean heavily on your doctor and physical therapist to know what you should and should not do at home. You should not, however, dismiss the responsibility you have for your own care. 

You need to advocate for yourself by asking questions if you have them. If you have a spouse, friend, neighbor, or other family members who can help you, ask for help. You can recover more quickly if you take responsibility for your own health. 

If you're worried about the pain you're experiencing or if you notice odd symptoms like fever, call your doctor. Take the reins of your health into your own hands. 

2. Walking Independently

If you're especially motivated to get back to normal, you will be tempted to try to walk independently as early as possible. You'll want to leave the walker and the can behind with no real protection for your new knee. 

If you do this too early, you will regret your decision. Your new knee will flare up, and you'll aggravate the bones. 

Use your walker. Put your weight on your arms and not your legs. You will recover more quickly if you take a step back and slow down. 

Walking too early is one of the major exercises to avoid after knee replacement. 

3. Easy Exercises

While you should not push it too much at the beginning by attempting to walk independently, you should also not be afraid to push yourself once your physical therapist gives you the go-ahead. 

We do not crave pain. So when your therapist gives you the task of bending your knee, you will feel discomfort, and you'll want to start. 

However, the more often you complete the uncomfortable exercises, the more quickly you will adapt to them, and the stronger your knee will be. Avoid attempting to compensate for skipping the hard exercises by just doing more easy ones. 

4. Skipping Your Meds

The opioid epidemic is real. Statistics tell us more than 130 people die from opioid overdoses each day in the United States. 

This kind of statistic may tempt you to stop taking your pain meds earlier than you should or to skip them altogether. Your knee has undergone significant trauma. You will waste valuable time feeling wasted by the pain and unable to rehab your knee adequately if you do not use the pain meds your doctor prescribed as he or she prescribed them. 

If you stay on top of your meds and complete the rehab exercises, you can hope to wean yourself off them within two weeks after surgery or by the time you regain your range of motion. Once you regain your range of motion, you can stop taking your pain medicine. 

Avoiding pain management is near the top of the list of what not to do after knee replacement. 

If you are genuinely concerned about opioid addiction or have a history of chemical dependency, tell your doctor before surgery. 

5. Forgetting You Have a New Knee

Once you have an artificial knee, you need to adjust to the fact that you now have a foreign particle in your body. Your new knee should not cause the pain that your old knee did. But it will never feel exactly like your old knee. 

Your pain is your biggest factor. As you adjust to your new knee, try to remember your old pain. The new knee will feel so much better as time goes on.  

6. Hurrying 

Even after you fully recover from knee surgery, you should give yourself a margin of time whenever you go anywhere. If you plan on traveling via airplane, take care. You will need more time at security.

Your knee implant will most likely set off the airport metal detector. The TSA agent will then need to conduct a pat-down screening. If you're at an airport with a full-body scanner, you can opt to go through that instead. 

You can avoid some of this hassle if you carry a small TSA notification card that tells the agent about your artificial knee. They still may want to search you though, so wear clothes that will allow you to quickly reveal your surgical scar. 

7. Lifting 20 Pounds (or More)

Even if you’re able to return to full normal after your surgery, you’ll need to mind your artificial knee for the rest of your life. Avoid lifting anything more than 20 pounds. That can stress the joint too much.

8. Neglecting Your Incision

Pay close attention to your incision to make sure you do not get any infection. 

Shortly after surgery, your incision will be swollen and will look bruised. It will be black and blue and possibly a little red after surgery. 

Your surgeon may have planted a drain in during surgery, so you should see bruising from your thigh all the way to your toes. The bruising is all a normal part of healing. 

You could also have a temperature up to 101.6 after surgery and general discomfort, fatigue, or pain. Your incision may feel warm or numb, and you could have spotty drainage that is red or clear lasting up to five days after the procedure. 

Monitor your incision. If it begins to swell several days after surgery or if a red streak begins to form from the incision, call your doctor. Also, if you spike a fever, contact a physician. These are all symptoms of cellulitis, a skin infection that could land you back in the hospital. 

9. Forgetting About Your Knee

Once the rehab is done and you're back up to speed, you might feel so good you forget about the fact that you have an artificial knee. Life can remind you of your limitations quickly if you do not care for your new knee. 

Don’t jerk the leg with the implant. Turn by taking small steps.

Do not pivot sharply. Your toes should point in the same direction as your body. If you twist too sharply, you can damage your implant or just wear the knee out quickly. 

10. High-Stress Endurance Sports

Your dream of being a world-class Ironman triathlete is pretty much over once you commit to getting an artificial knee unless you have a wail of a powerwalk. 

One of the knee replacement mistakes people make is assuming they can resume all activities like normal. If you were a runner or participated in any high-impact sport, you need to hang up the shoes. 

Also, stay away from downhill mountain hiking without using some sort of ski pole. Avoid wearing a heavy backpack on those hikes as well as the downhill puts undue stress on your artificial knee. 

Now that you know what to avoid, what exercises can you exactly do to help yourself heal quickly? 

1. Knee Slides

Your knee will feel stiff regularly after a knee replacement. Bending causes pain, but you need to bend your knee to avoid developing scar tissue. So practice some basic knee slides. 

Lie on your back with your good leg bent, foot on the floor, and your knee-replacement knee stretched out. Then slowly slide foot of the knee-replacement leg toward your rear. Stop sliding once you feel pain. 

Then hold the angle for two seconds, and slowly return the leg back to a straight position. Complete three sets of ten repetitions of this exercise daily. This exercise will help increase your range of motion. 

2. Hip Exercises

Strong knees come from strong hips. If your hips are weak, your knees will suffer. So the best exercises you can do after knee replacement surgery actually focus on your hips and not your knees. 

Complete three sets of twelve repetitions of clamshells. Lie on your side with your knees bent. Lift the knee of your top leg while keeping your feet touching, like a clamshell. 

Each time you lift your knee, you complete one clamshell. 

3. Cardio

Do not neglect your cardio. Once your physician and physical therapist give you the go-ahead, plant your backside on a stationary bike. This exercise is low impact but also works your knee.

You could also do just about any kind of exercise in a swimming pool like aqua jogging or aqua aerobics since this puts no stress on your knee. An elliptical machine will also give you a good workout without putting undue stress on your knee. stationary bike and elliptical

Best Three Tips to Recover Quickly From Knee Replacement

As you seek to recover quickly, keep these three tips in mind. 

1. Stay Cool

Any kind of cold therapy will help reduce the swelling immediately after surgery and allow you to begin your rehab exercises. Ice your knee diligently like it is your job the first couple weeks after surgery. 

2. Stay Positive

Your state of mind is a critical part of your recovery. If you can stay positive and keep a positive mindset, you will see your rehab period zoom by.

You will have setbacks, and on those days, you'll be tempted to think that you're not improving. Measure your improvement by weeks and months rather than days. Look back at where you were the week before or two weeks before, and you will see how much you're improving.  

3. Avoid Bad Vibes

In the same vein, avoid fear. You will find dozens of people who want to tell you all about how their knee replacement surgeries went south. Avoid those people. 

Baby your knee when you walk but do not baby it when you bend it. This does not mean you should aggressively bend your knee, but if you use frequent low loads, your knee will respond positively. 

Embrace the discomfort that will ensue knowing that the more you can endure the discomfort, the more quickly you will recover. 

Stay Smart, Recover Fast

Now that you know what knee replacement exercises to avoid, you can move forward confidently and yet gingerly with recovering from knee replacement surgery. Your bionic knee will never be the same as your old knee. That may ultimately be a good thing if the old knee caused you pain. 

If you treat that new knee right, you can look forward to decades of active enjoyment. For all of your knee brace and knee health needs, contact us. We'd love to help you out. 

1 comment

  • Carlee

    Excellent article. Thank you for the details. One question about exercise: Would a ROWING MACHINE be good exercise six were or so post OP?

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