Here’s a health tip for anyone who has or is thinking about having knee surgery: head to your local swimming pool. Replacing a knee is a major operation, but for those no longer able to maintain their mobility without considerable pain, it’s often the only option. But how do you recover? What’s the best exercise after knee surgery?
Researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland think aquatic resistance training is the way to go. They recently conducted a study involving men and women, aged 55 to 75. All the participants had had knee replacement surgery four to 18 months before the start of the study. Fifty people participated in the swimming exercise trial and 42 in the follow-up study.
The research team assigned the participants to 12 weeks of progressive aquatic training. A group receiving no exercise intervention acted as control. To measure the effectiveness of the swimming exercises, the researchers tested knee extensor and flexor power (the main muscles that help you bend and flex your knee), thigh muscle strength, walking speed, stair ascending time, and a sit-to-stand test.
After a 12-month follow-up, the researchers found the benefits from aquatic resistance training remained in the following percentages: a 32% increase in knee extensor power and a 50% increase in knee flexor power. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the training-induced improvement in thigh muscle strength — that disappeared by the time of the follow-up study. All the other 12-week improvements during the aquatic training also disappeared after one year.
The researchers concluded that, after one year, the 12-week aquatic training benefits disappeared in all but knee extensor and flexor power. They suggest that, to maintain the benefits related to mobility — walking speed, stair climbing and standing — aquatic training should be continued for longer than 12 weeks after surgery.
Aquatic resistance training is a great way to work out. You can build muscle strength and flexibility without having to bear any real weight on your joints and cartilage.
If you are overweight, swimming may also be the best exercise for you. You can get a workout without the added stress of carrying around extra weight.
To learn about the benefits of another healing exercise, read This Mild Exercise Is Best for Your Heart.