Week 3- The Importance of strength

If you are on the waiting list for a hip or knee replacement, you will have been suffering with long-term joint pain, and you may have joint stiffness and weakness, a fear of movement and reduced independence of daily living. Joint replacement surgery and the following recovery and rehabilitation is aimed to improve these problems.

Regaining full joint movement and strength after a joint replacement can be extremely hard work and painful. Unfortunately, if your joint is stiff and muscles around the joint are weak before a joint replacement, there is more chance the recovery and rehabilitation will be slower, more difficult and painful, and the new joint may not perform the way you want it to. However, setting yourself up before the surgery can make recovery and rehabilitation easier and quicker.

There is strong evidence that strength exercises improve joint mobility and muscle strength before a joint replacement. This can lead to a faster and more successful recovery. This means you will have better movement of your new joint and return to normal life quicker. Research shows us that people who engage with strengthening exercises:

  • experience less pain before having joint replacement surgery and less pain within 4 weeks after their surgery,
  • have increased strength and range of motion of their hip or knee joint before and after surgery,
  • return to daily activities such as climbing stairs, using a chair and toilet quicker,
  • and have a significantly decreased length of stay in the hospital after surgery.

Setting yourself up for success

Active Wait has provided a tailor made, follow-along strength exercise routine to help you be strong and move well, so you are in the best position to have a successful recovery from surgery. For the best results you should aim to do the strength exercise routine at least 2 to 3 times a week. If you are not able to do this, then do as much as you can. It is important to do strength exercises now, do not wait until you have an operation date.

When you are doing your strength exercise you may have some crunching or clicking noises in your joint due to changes within it. This does not mean you are doing any harm to the joint and it is safe to move.

When starting with strength exercises take it slow and listen to how your body feels. If you are getting a lot of pain, then rest and try to do your exercises again later. It may take some time for your body to get use to new exercises, and it is normal to feel a bit sore and stiff the following day. This is a sign your strength exercises are working and when you recover you will benefit and be stronger.

However, you may find the exercises are too difficult if your pain from exercise:

  • is new, sharp, stabbing, or constant
  • causes a new limp
  • lasts more than 2 hours after exercise or gets worse at night
  • does not get better with rest or hot/cold packs

If this is the case, take some time to recover and start again with easier exercises.

Your weekly exercises

Click the links below to see this week's exercises. You will need to do just one level. Start on the foundation level, and if you find it easy click on the intermediate and advanced exercises for a more difficult version.