Strength Training Improves Knee Replacement Recovery

Get ready to sweat! Strength training can help knee replacement patients speed up their recovery process and prevent common complications, according to scientists.

As great as that sounds, recovering from a total knee replacement is challenging. Patients must experience intense physical therapy for months before returning home with those bulky prosthetic knees. It’s no wonder many surgical patients struggle to regain strength and mobility after surgery.

Progressive Quadriceps Strengthening Improves Recovery After Knee Replacement

Quadriceps strengthening exercises can improve the recovery process after knee replacement surgery. These exercises can help prevent weakness in the muscles surrounding the knee, which may lead to issues such as instability, falls, and pain.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 – Reuters Health

A 6-week program of progressive strength training targeting the quadriceps femoris muscle group notably improves strength and function following total knee arthroplasty for treatment of osteoarthritis, clinicians report in the February 15 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

“Furthermore,” the authors write, 1-year outcomes “exceeded those previously reported in the literature, approaching the function of age-matched healthy older adults.”

Dr. Lynn Snyder-Mackler randomized 200 patients with co-investigators at the University of Delaware Newark NMES consisting of 10 electrically elicited contractions in the quadriceps femoris muscle. Both groups also performed exercises targeting the hamstrings, gastrocnemius, soleus, hip abductors, and hip flexors.

Treatment began 3-4 weeks after surgery and lasted for six weeks with 2 or 3 visits per week. Ninety-two patients in the exercise group and 76 in the exercise-NMES group completed the 3-month testing, and 81 and 68 were retested at 12 months, respectively. A sub-group of 41 patients was also compared with a control group of 41 patients who received standard care therapy.

Both rehabilitation groups significantly improved between baseline and three months and between 3 and 12 months on all measures – active knee range of motion, Timed Up and Go, Stair-Climbing Test, 6-Minute Walk, and quadriceps strength and activation testing, and in responses to self-assessment questionnaires (p < 0.001 for all).

However, outcomes did not differ between the exercise-only group and the exercise-NMES group, Dr. Snyder-Mackler, and associates report.

Benefits of Strength Training After Knee Replacement

After knee replacement surgery, the artificial joint must be stabilized with the surrounding muscles. Strength training improves knee replacement recovery by increasing the strength of muscles surrounding the knee joint and creating a more stable joint.

  • Strengthening muscles with weights or resistance bands helps to stabilize the knee and can reduce the risk of future problems like arthritis or knee instability that often result from a weak joint.
  • Strength training improves knee replacement recovery by increasing the strength of muscles around the joint, making it more stable.

In the subgroup analysis, they add, patients in the active intervention groups “demonstrated substantially greater quadriceps strength and functional performance 12 months postoperatively than the standard of care group.”

Strength training before and after surgery is essential to help improve strength and speed up recovery. It may also prevent typical complications and improve your chances for a successful recovery. If you are planning on having knee replacement surgery, either replace your knee or know that you’ll need to start from scratch again. This means that after your surgery, you’ll need to take two to three months off from strength training and other forms of exercise.

Strength training can bring goodness to your joints, muscles, and bones. And now we know it can also help you recover from knee surgery. These are just a few benefits of strength training after knee replacement surgery. If you are having this type of surgery, give it a try. And if you don’t know where to start, talk to a registered Kinesiologist or your doctor about options.

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Rick Kaselj[email protected]

Registered Kinesiologist Specializing in Injury Rehabilitation

Surrey, BC, Canada

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