Category: Walking

How Much Should I Be Walking After My Knee Replacement?

marathon photo

“I want to get back to Normal. I want to start walking without this walker. When can I do that?”
One thing you really want to keep an eye on once you’ve had your knee replacement surgery is how much swelling is in the knee.
If you are doing a lot of walking the chances of your knee staying irritated and swollen are pretty high.

If you have a lot of swelling in the knee, you’re going to have a lot more pain, and also it’s going to be difficult to bend or straighten the knee.

And if you keep the knee swollen and irritated there is a greater opportunity for you to develop an infection or a DVT.

However this does not mean that you shouldn’t be walking, for practicing how to walk normally. But what it does mean is that you need to make sure that the amount of walking that you’re doing is not irritating your knee.

The amount of walking that you’re able to do was going to change on a daily basis. Some days depending on your pain level and whether you are tired or not may be better than others. Some days may be worse.

But the general trend in your ability to walk should improve on a weekly basis. You will find that you will be able to walk better and for longer periods of time as you go through the healing process.

Your challenge is going to be to focus on how your knee is responding to the amount of walking that you’re doing.

Once people get home from the hospital they find that there are all sorts of things that they need to be doing. Things like doing the laundry, taking the garbage out, even trying to do things like vacuuming and other household chores.

When you’re trying to recover from a knee replacement surgery, things like that need to be put a side and on the back burner. Its a better idea just to focus on how your knee is responding to the things that you’re doing rather than how many things you can do.

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Focus On How You’re Walking

walking photo

Getting off the Walker is a milestone that a lot of total knee patients want to hit sooner rather than later.
But I usually tell people don’t be in such a rush to abandon your walker just yet.
What you’re really interested in doing with the Walker, is improving the quality of how you walk. Not just how far you can walk.
When using your Walker, the emphasis should be on practicing how you walk. Or, practicing how to walk normally. Your surgical leg should be doing the same thing your good leg is doing.
This may be hard for some because there may be pain, or your range of motion may still be limited.
But one of the biggest problems that people have is overcoming bad habits of walking.
People who have had a total knee replacement generally have had pain in their need for a long time. And that leg has become weak and the muscles have become tight. This has caused people to walk with a limp or basically compensate how they walk even before they had their surgeries.
So it is important for anyone who has had a knee replacement to understand that not only are you overcoming the pain and soreness from the surgery, you’re also trying to overcome the bad habits that you developed previously before the surgery.
Here is a tip: make sure that your Surgical knee is as straight as possible when standing on it. This takes place when you are stepping forward with your non surgical leg.
To do this you may have to put more weight on your arms when you’re using your Walker. But it’s important to learn how to straighten your surgical knee and to bear weight on it.
This is necessary in order to have a normal gait cycle or walking pattern.
If you have trouble straightening your surgical Knee, then you may have to spend more time working on your extension range of motion.
The exercises that work on your knee extension are they standing calf stretch and the hamstring stretch and the passive knee extension. You can do this easily with a stretching strap.
So keep this in mind if you are one of those who are trying to get off the water as soon as possible. It may be more beneficial to stay on the water longer and practice how you walk. This will help you a lot more in the long run.

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How To Use Stairs After A Knee Replacement

Giant Staircase

Using Giant Staircase (Photo credit: acameronhuff)

One of the biggest obstacles (no pun intended) to someone after knee surgery is how to use the stairs after a knee replacement. When you’re down at the bottom of the stairs looking up, they look like Mount Everest. And when you’re at the top of the stairs looking down, you’re paralyzed by a fear of not missing one step as you tumble down to the bottom.

But, keep in mind, it’s not an impossible task. You can do it. And, it’s not as hard as you think.

However, before tackling the stairs, you’re going to want to practice walking on a flat surface for a bit. It takes a little time for your muscles to wake up after surgery and for you to get the hang of how your knee is going to work.

In addition, if you do have stairs that you have to use after a knee replacement, it’s a good idea to plan your day around going up and down the steps. Some people plan it out so that they only need to use the stairs once during the day. But, your house may be laid out differently.

How To Use Stairs After A Knee Replacement: Up With The Good…

Now, the trick to going up and down stairs is to let the “good foot” do all the work. That means that your going “to go up with the good foot and go down with the bad foot”. Physical Therapists call this sequencing.

Think about it for a minute… When you get to the steps and start to climb, your strong leg needs to go up first and power your body weight up to the next step.

And, when you’re going down the stairs, if you lead with your bad leg and lower it to the next step first, it’s your strong leg that’s lowering your body weight to the next step.

The operated leg really doesn’t do a lot. That’s because it’s not strong enough to do so yet.

Yes, you do use your hands. Hopefully you have a railing on your stairs. Ideally you’ll have two handrails on either side of your stairs. But if you don’t there are other options.

How To Use Stairs After A Knee Replacement With Walker Or Cane

You can use a cane or walker. When using a cane or walker on the stairs, be sure to advance them first. If you’re going up, the walker or cane goes up before the “good foot”. If you’re going down, they go before the “bad foot”.

If you have a walker (two wheel or pick up, but not a 4 wheel) you can turn it sideways and use it for support while going up or down. But, don’t try this if you haven’t been taught by your physical therapist. You may fall down the steps.

Another option and one that is a little more straight forward than using the walker is to use a cane. While it’s not as stable as using the walker, it’s a lot less confusing.

Either way, you’ll want someone with you when you’re trying the steps for the first time. In fact, make sure that you have worked with a physical therapist prior to trying your stairs. You may learn a lot of good tips.

In summary, remember, “The Good Go Up and The Bad Go Down”. When you want your strong leg to do all the work when you’re going up and when you’re going down the steps.

That’s a simple explanation of how to use stairs after a knee replacement.

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How To Use A Walker After A Knee Replacement

English: Photo of modern-day walker taken Janu...

How To Walk With A Walker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It can be tricky and kind of scary trying to get back up on your feet after having a knee replacement. Not only does your leg hurt. The muscles are weak from the surgery and that makes it feel heavy. Plus, it’s also swollen and that makes it feel even heavier.

But, learning how to use a walker after knee surgery isn’t as hard as you may think. One of the biggest obstacles is finding a place to put your fear of falling while you focus on getting up and getting going.

3 Tips on How To Use a Walker

There are generally 3 things you need to focus on when you start walking after a knee replacement surgery.

1. How much weight to put on your knee. Your doctor and physical therapist may already have told you that you’re “weight bearing as tolerated” or “50% weight bearing” (or something else). But, that may not mean a whole lot to you if you have a lot of pain or if your leg feels pretty weak.

What you really need to figure out first is the right amount of weight to put on your leg without causing a lot of pain. This is done by using your hands to support your body weight on the walker as you ease on to the leg with the new knee joint.

Another thing that this particular technique does is it gives you a good idea of whether you knee is strong enough to support your body weight or not. It’ll probably take a couple of practice sessions before you really get a feel for it.


2. Sequencing. When a physical therapist talks about sequencing, they basically mean the sequence of taking steps and moving the walker that gives you the most security and hurts the least.

In general, the proper sequence you will be using is moving the walker first, then the sore leg and the good leg following. Using this particular sequence allows you to get the maximum amount of leverage with your arms and hands so that you’re not putting a lot of weight on your sore leg.

Some people think that leading with the good leg is better and they use that technique. But, when you lead with the good foot you use your sore leg to “push off” with and this throws off the rhythm of your walking.


3. How much is too much. When you’re first starting getting back on your feet after a knee replacement, your tendency may be to do too much walking. There’s something inside of all of us that makes us determined to “show the world” that “a little knee surgery isn’t enough to keep us down”.

But, more walking will not actually make you heal any faster. However, more walking may cause more inflammation and more swelling. And this may actually slow down your healing.

With that said, while more walking isn’t the best idea, some walking is essential. The trick is to find out how much is too much and stay just short of that distance. You can only figure this out by getting a good grasp of the first two points I made above.

How To Use a Walker Is Easier Than You Think

If you’ve had, or, if you’re planning on having a total knee replacement, don’t let a fear of learning how to use a walker spook you. There are probably hundreds (if not thousands) of people learning to use one everyday. If they can do it, so can you.

Once you get the hang of it, it’ll seem like second nature. In fact, once you get used to it, you will probably be asking “when can I get rid of the walker? I’m ready to start walking without anything”.



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