Exercise is a very important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but those who have undergone joint replacement surgery may find that they have to modify their normal fitness routines to accommodate the new joint.
Those who have undergone hip or knee replacement surgery can and should still participate in a fitness routine. Here are some tips for exercising after undergoing knee or hip replacement.
1. Don’t do too much too soon.
As you are healing, you will likely work with a physical therapist who will give you gentle exercises to help improve flexibility and range of motion in your new hip or knee. While you are healing, follow the guidance of your doctor and physical therapist, and don’t push yourself too far. While the exercises may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, you should not be in unbearable pain while exercising. If the exercises are very painful, you can work with your physical therapist to cut back on the exercises, but you should not stop completely. You will gradually work your way up to more active exercises as you progress in your recovery.
2. Try ice and heat.
An ice pack wrapped in a towel can help to reduce pain and inflammation, which can make it easier for you to perform physical therapy exercises. Applying a heating pad or hot, damp towel for 15-20 minutes can also help with range of motion when performing exercises while in recovery.
3. Focus on strength and mobility.
When you have had a joint replacement, you need to work to strengthen the surrounding muscles to support the joint. Stretching should always be a part of your routine, even after recovery, to help you stay flexible. Cycling on a stationary exercise bike is also recommended for strength and range of motion in the hips and the knees. A stationary bike allows you to start slowly and work at your own pace. You can gradually adjust the tension as you regain strength.
4. Avoid high-impact exercises.
High-impact activities like running, jogging, and skiing can place repetitive stress on the new joint, and for that reason should be avoided. Too much stress on the new joint can cause problems like dislocation or improper healing.
5. Low-impact activities can still be beneficial.
Exercises that are easy on the joints are better for those with hip or knee replacements than high-impact exercises. In addition to helping with strength and range of motion, cycling is also easy on the joints. Golfing is also a great low-impact activity. Swimming and water therapy are often recommended for those who have undergone joint replacement surgery because it provides a good workout without being hard on the joints.
6. Check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.
When in doubt, always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine. You need to protect your new joint, and your doctor will be able to advise you on which exercises you should and shouldn’t do.
If you have had joint replacement surgery, exercise can help you stay active in the years after surgery. Although there may be some restrictions on the activities you can do, there are several activities that will help you get the most out of your new joint.