The Road to Recovery: The Post Arthroscopic Knee Surgery Workout
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Knee injuries are tough for anyone, but they can be particularly challenging for professional athletes, whose success relies on health. The road back to the court for Philadelphia 76ers center, Joel Embiid, was a long one. After having to sit out what would have been his first two seasons due to foot surgery, 2016-7 looked to be a breakout year for this talented athlete; through 31 games, he averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds.  Unfortunately, because of a floating mass in his knee, he had to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, missing the rest of that year’s campaign.
When you’re a budding NBA star, you have access to exceptional care and physical therapy. The surgery was a success, and this season Embiid finally got a chance to show his fans what he can do. He’s been dominant, leading his team to its first playoff appearance in years. But even for him—and certainly for people who aren’t professional athletes—there’s a lot that needs to happen post-surgery. And what ends up helping a great deal is for patients to get back to—or start—taking part in fitness routines.
While you’ll need guidance from your doctor, here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect from your post arthroscopic knee surgery workout.
The main goal of exercise in the initial period following knee surgery is to get yourself back into shape. These are some exercises that may be recommended:
- Hamstring Contractions: While lying on your back with knees together and elevated. By tightening the muscles in your thighs, the idea is to pull your heels into the floor for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Quadriceps Contraction: Sort of like the reverse of the hamstring contraction, you lay face down on the ground, prop the ankle below the injured knee on a rolled up towel, and try to push it into the ground, essentially straightening the leg as much as possible. Typically, 10 reps of five seconds each should do it.
- Straight Leg Raises: While laying on your back with your uninjured leg bent. Keeping it straight, slowly lift the injured leg up into the air. At about six inches, hold the leg for five seconds. Then do this for the other leg.
- Buttock Tucks: This exercise is similar in spirit to the hamstring and quadriceps contractions. While lying down with knees up, this involves tightening the buttock muscles for five seconds at a time. Aim to do 10 reps.
You’ll notice that exercises get easier as you go along, so gradually increase the number of reps of the early recovery exercises. You can also to add weights to your ankles when you’re ready. There are also a couple other exercises to try:
- Partial Squats: Using a chair for stability and support, stand with feet six to 12 inches from it. While keeping your back straight, slowly lower yourself so that knees are bent no more than 90 degrees. Hold the lowest position for five seconds and then stand back up; repeat this 10 times.
- Quadriceps Stretch: While standing and using a wall for support, bend the affected knee upwards and gently pull the ankle to the buttocks. Hold this for five seconds and repeat 10 times.
As before, over time your muscles will strengthen and your knee will heal, so you’ll be able to increase the repetitions and intensity of intermediate workouts. In addition, there are a few other exercises that can help:
- Forward Step Ups: Using a step stool or staircase, the idea with this exercise is to step forward and onto it while leading with the injured leg. Ten reps is a good place to start, and you can always increase the height of the platform you’re using.
- Lateral Step Ups: This one also requires a platform, but this time it is to the side of your affected leg. Leading with the injured leg, step onto it ten times, and increase the height as you get stronger.
- Supine Hamstring Stretch: While lying on the ground, bend the hip so you can grasp just above the knee. Straighten the leg slowly to the point of feeling tightness, and hold for five seconds. As with others, about 10 reps will serve you well.
Getting Back on Track
After you recover fully from arthroscopic knee surgery, you will still want to think about fitness. You don’t need to start playing professional basketball or become a “gym-rat;” there are many more gentle activities that you could try like swimming, walking, or biking. The important thing is that you do what you can to help your body recover and stay healthy.
If you’re suffering from knee pain or discomfort in the wrists, ankles, shoulders, or hips, the team at Onward Orthopedics is ready to help. These experts employ the latest in techniques and technologies to ensure the best possible outcomes for their patients. Learn more about what they do by calling (800) 577-1693 today!
- “Sixers’ Joel Embiid Has Left Knee Surgery To Remove ‘Small Portion’ Of Meniscus”. 2018. Com. Accessed April 11 2018. https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/sixers-joel-embiid-has-left-knee-surgery-to-remove-small-portion-of-meniscus/.
- “Knee Arthroscopy Exercise Guide – Orthoinfo – AAOS”. 2018. Aaos.Org. Accessed April 11 2018. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/knee-arthroscopy-exercise-guide/.