A woman exercises in an indoor swimming pool, holding two weights.
Health Topics

Conditioning before knee replacement surgery


November 1, 2020

Increasing stamina and muscle strength before surgery will make your recovery easier afterward.

Daily exercise helps strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint. Aerobic activity (exercise that raises your heart rate) can improve fitness. It can also help you reach or maintain a healthy weight, reducing stress on your knee. Before beginning any exercise program, talk with your healthcare provider.

Low-impact exercise

Try exercise that doesn’t put too much weight on your knee, such as riding a stationary bike or swimming. This helps build strength in your knee with little stress on the joint. Start slowly. Then try to do a little more each day. Stop any exercise that causes increasing pain. You can also ask your doctor or physical therapist about ways to manage pain during exercise. They can also recommend YouTube videos that can guide your through moves that are safe for you.

Pool exercise

If you have access to a swimming pool, use it! Moving in the pool is a gentle way to exercise muscles. It can improve balance and coordination. A physical therapist may work with you in a pool therapy program. You can also try pool walking on your own. Stand in waist- to chest-deep water with your arms out to the sides. Slowly walk forward. To avoid overdoing anything, ask your physical therapist or surgeon how long you should exercise.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions about the exercises, or if there is increased pain or swelling in your knee after exercise.

If you are dealing with an injury, facing surgery or coping with chronic pain, Vanderbilt Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of care. Our specialists work with you from evaluation and “prehab” through physical therapy and, if needed, surgery. We’ll help you get back to doing the things you love, pain-free. To make an appointment, call 615-936-7846.

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