You’re Not Alone:
First of all you’ll be happy to know that you’re among good company with this surgery!
Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas and an estimated 65,000 Australians have had knee surgeries in 2018. The prevalence of knee surgeries have sky rocketed over the last 20 years.
What is the cause? Research suggests it’s a combination of our sedentary lifestyle and the ever growing obesity epidemic. So the answer is simple then, just get up and move more..... right?
Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple.
The trouble with knees:
We know that with knee replacements there can be many long term issues that it can lead to.
Knee pain lower back pain hip pain leg weakness
delay in returning to work or sport weight gain cardiovascular disease
difficulty performing daily activities like cleaning and playing with grandkids
Just to name a few.
In addition, while the technology is getting better all the time, the new knee doesn’t stay new forever.
The average lifespan of a total knee replacement is 15-20 years. The degree of wear can vary depending on excessive long term loading through increased body weight and poor movement patterns.
As the replacement wears further, the pain can increase. The more painful it becomes, the sooner subsequent replacement will be needed.
However the best way to look after your knees is something you’ve probably already heard of. Diet and exercise!
Teach a man to fish....:
To fix a leaky tap you wouldn’t just keep changing the bucket you put under it, you fix the source of the problem. Why is a knee replacement any different?
Knee replacements come as a result of chronic wear in the knee. Poor movement mechanics, chronic obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are key factors in why we need the replacement, but these aren’t fixed with surgery.
Having these long term habits make it increasingly difficult to become active. Populations that are less active have also seen higher incidence of heart disease, certain cancers and stroke. Simply put, these are bad things that you don’t want!
Strengthen and Relax:
Strength training is what’s going to propel you forward in this process. Targeted exercises to optimize movement, and compound exercises for global strength and weight loss. Performing a strength program 2-4 times per week as tolerated is one of the best ways to reduce pain in knee replacements. In combination with myofascial release work (massaging) to relax overworked muscles, this can help with improving relative strength but also reduce inflammation.
Research suggests that up to 70% of knee replacement patients will not reach the minimum guidelines for exercises. The guidelines recommend around 150+ minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. That means working hard enough that you can notice an increase in your breathing. Looking for that sweet spot where you can string together a short sentence but keeping a conversation becomes difficult.
Lower impact exercises usually have a higher tolerance as they can cause less pain, this can come in many forms from walking, to swimming, to bike riding. Social activity can add additional benefits too. Research has shown that people who engage in more social exercises like walking groups, Pilate’s groups and sessions with trainers are happier and stick to their exercise for longer. Long term exercise is key!
Knee replacement surgery can be a great way to get you back up and moving. Getting the recommended amount of exercise in is important for both your overall health and replacement longevity. Doing it the right way for you is hugely beneficial! For more information you can consult one of our EP’s to find out more.
150 min of moderate to vigorous intensity per week, accompanied by 2-4 sessions of strength training.