Top 3 Secrets for Increasing Knee Bend: Total Knee Arthroplasty
After your total knee replacement, or total knee arthroplasty, you will naturally experience some limitations as you recover. However, to ensure total recovery, it’s so important to focus on physical therapy and exercises that will help rebuild the tissues, strength, and flexibility in your knee.
That’s why we’re going to share our 3 secrets to increase your knee bend!
1. Total knee arthroplasty requires knee bends and flexing.
After surgery, if you’re sitting a lot in an upright position, your knee is naturally going to fall into a 90 degree angle. That’s great! But in order to make sure your knee can bend without pain and with full range of motion later, you have to move your knee from a straight position to a bent position a lot.
To do this, sit in a chair in your tiled/linoleum kitchen or on a hardwood floor (if you have one). Put a towel underneath your foot, sit with your legs at a 90 degree angle, and then pretend like you’re cleaning up a mess off that floor. Move your leg forward until it is nearly straight – with toes still touching the floor. Then flex the knee and bring it back to the base of the chair. This motion stretches the knee and puts a little pressure on the leg to build strength.
2. Knee bends don’t stop at 90 degrees.
Part of total recovery from an arthroplasty is making sure that your knee can contract to smaller 90 degrees. This means that your calf muscles should be able to move closer to your hamstrings (towards the back of your body). This stretches quadriceps and builds strength for the knee, as well as improves range of motion.
To do this, about 2-3 weeks post op (and only once your doctor approves it), you can use the same towel in Step 1 or use a resistance band to move your leg further behind you. Start in a 90 degree angle with your leg, then slowly slide the towel back (or pull back with the resistance band) until your leg is more like a 45 degree angle. Your range will increase as you do this more.
3. Once your total knee arthroplasty has recovered enough, it’s time to do stairs.
Stairs are a difficult part of recovery for many people, but especially for those who avoid their strength-building exercises. About 3-4 weeks post-op (and only once your doctor says you’re ready), use the banister or the help of a relative/friend to hold yourself up by the first step in your home.
Start by lifting your arthroplasty knee to the first step and stretch forward enough to feel a little weight on it. It will stretch and hurt a little bit, but don’t go too far. Remember, this is an exercise best done at physical therapy the first time so that you know your limits.
Recovery Takes Time
You need to continually work on returning your knee to its original function. The best way to do this is to commit to physical therapy and at-home exercises. Your knee’s flexibility and ability to bend has a huge impact on how scar tissue forms, how much pain you experience down the road, and how well the arthroplasty takes. Commit to your knee bends and you’ll be recovered in no time!