Hi everyone. I have been receiving some inquiries from a number of you about how to deal with tkr stiffness. To clarify for those uninitiated -tkr stands for total knee replacement. (That’s for my SEO gurus..:) )
I thought it would be nice to take a few moments and share some personal insight that works for me. Just so you know, yes…I still have stiffness years after my tkr. And, it’s been nine years since my total knee replacement. Wow…
* Do isometrics.
Isometrics involve tightening your leg muscles. Hold this tension for about six to eight seconds. Release and relax for five seconds. Go on to the next muscle until you have exercised your entire tkr leg. Isometrics are great for blood circulation. I LOVE isometrics.
Isometrics can be done anywhere, any time. I especially like doing them when I am driving or watching TV. Know that these exercises raise blood pressure, so be sure to check with your medical care provider before including them in your routine.
* Do ankle circles.
Gently and slowly lift your tkr-side foot from the surface. Slowly start rotating your foot from right to left. Do five of these maneuvers. Lower your foot to the surface. Relax for ten seconds. Repeat this flexibility movement with your other leg.
This exercise can be done while sitting at a desk, in a recliner, or while standing. Do them on land or in water, whatever suits your fancy. Find time to fit it in to your daily regime to reap the best results.
* Ride an exercise bike.
You were likely given a tkr recuperation exercise that involves riding an exercise bike. There is a reason for this. Bicycling stretches all your leg muscles.
One maneuver that works well for me involves pedaling slowly until my tkr leg reaches the top of the pedaling ‘circle’. Then, I apply pressure on the pedals to gently and slowly rock my leg back and forth. When done correctly, you will feel a gentle stretch on the top of your tkr.
No article on tkr stiffness would be complete without mentioning walking. Walking can be done indoors at home, a fitness track, and/or shopping mall. Do it outdoors for a change of scenery. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and socks. Only walk at a pace that is comfortable for you. Never overextend yourself.
* Take frequent breaks.
Position your tkr leg differently. Working different muscle groups is crucial for dealing with tkr stiffness. It prevents your leg from getting numb, also. This is especially true when driving. Stop the car, get out and stretch. Doing something as “simple” as gentle marching will work well. Get your blood flowing.
* Touch your toes.
This age-old exercise stretches all your leg muscles. I especially like the way my hamstrings feel when I touch my hands to the floor’s surface. This is a great way to keep the back of your tkr flexible. Of course, be sure to only do it as far as your comfort level allows. Never overextend yourself.
* Stand up slowly.
Whenever you stand up after sitting awhile, be sure to do it slowly and deliberately. Hold onto something, if needed. Standing up too fast can make you dizzy and off-balance. This increases your risks of falling and causing further damage. Some people with tkr stiffness do not realize it exists until they stand up quickly and lose their balance. Do not let this happen. Take your time standing up.
* Stretch regularly.
When dealing with tkr stiffness, remember that stretching throughout the day is key to being flexible. Instead of only doing flexibility exercises during your recuperation hour, find time to squeeze them in at other times.
Stretch while standing in line, sitting in a lobby, waiting in traffic, or other opportune moments. There is never an excuse for not stretching.
* Do ankle lifts.
Instead of “simply” standing, lift your heels from the surface. Stand on your foot pads for a few seconds. Lower yourself back to original position. Do this for as many times as is comfortable. Your calf muscles play a crucial role in helping your tkr function properly.
OK, that’s all I have for now. Hopefully, my suggestions can help you and others going through similar situations. We have to work at keeping our total knee replacements from becoming stiff.
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AUTHOR NOTE: Booktoots’ Healing helps total knee replacement patients find support throughout recuperation and beyond. Its mission is for patients to understand they are not alone in their ordeal with either a tkr or other physicality concerns.
The site is owned and operated by Marie Buckner, a published author and tkr patient who has been living with various physicalities for over 30+ years. She enjoys sharing her experiences to help others going through the same thing.