If you’ve recently undergone joint replacement surgery, congratulations! The hardest part is over, and you’re well on your way to making a great recovery. Now begins the rehab phase which plays a crucial part in restoring range of motion and strengthening the surrounding muscles.
Once you have received clearance from your doctor, you should spend approximately 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times per day, performing exercises that will strengthen and restore your joint. These exercises will not only speed your recovery, they will increase your chances of long-term success after surgery. The following are some exercises that may be recommended by your doctor:
- Grip strengthening – Grasp a rubber ball or roll your hand into a fist. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Complete 30 reps.
- Scapula retraction – Stand tall and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax and repeat.
- Pendulum swing – Bend at the waist and use your strong arm to grasp a table or chair for support. Allow your recovering arm to relax and hang straight down below you, making small clockwise and counterclockwise circles (Source: UCSF Medical Center).
- Straight leg lifts – Lie on your back and keep your recovering leg flat on the floor. Bend your other leg at the knee, resting your foot firmly on the floor. Gently raise your recovering leg about six inches off the floor and hold for 10 seconds.
- Thigh squeezes – Lying flat on your back, gently press the back of your knees to the floor and engage the muscles in the front of your thighs. Hold for five seconds, relax and repeat.
- Knee bending – Sit in a chair and bend your recovering leg so your toes rest on the floor beneath your seat. Keep your other leg flat on the floor in front of you for support. Gently bend your affected knee back as far as possible, allowing your heel to lower towards the floor. Hold for five seconds, then rest and repeat (Healthline).
- Hip flexion – Loop an elastic resistance band around your ankles and stand behind a chair for support. Keeping the knee straight, extend your affected leg forward. Return to your starting position and repeat.
- Hip extensions – Stand tall and hold the back of a chair for support. Raise your recovering leg straight behind you until you reach a comfortable level of resistance. Return to your starting position and repeat. This exercise can also be performed with resistance bands.
- Hip abduction – Stand sideways next to a door-frame or chair for support. Keeping a slight bend in the knee, stand on your strong leg and slowly extend your recovering leg out to the side. Gently lower your leg to starting position and repeat (Source: OrthoInfo).