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I celebrated my 18 month TKR anniversary today by taking a 10 mile beach hike with friends. 1.5 years ago, each step in the sand would have caused me pain.
Today I was able to walk all 10 miles pain free. Besides having sore leg muscles, I felt great. I had no knee pain at all.
I walked at a medium-to-slow pace and was careful when walking on loose rocks and over a few boulders. I hiked with a group of nine people and was able to keep up just fine.
Favoring My Knee – No More
After so many years of favoring your knee (in my case, limping for the prior 10 years) it can take a mental effort to trust your knee and not be as cautious as you were before surgery.
Like me, you may find yourself still favoring your knee as you walk down stairs or down steep hills by always putting your “good” leg forward to absorb the shock (tips to avoid knee replacement).
I had to condition my self to take alternating steps when walking down a staircase. I still walk gingerly on loose surfaces and sandy surfaces even though it isn’t necessary.
It takes a conscious effort to remind yourself that your knee and supporting structures are stronger and that you can put equal weight on your surgical knee just as you do with the other knee. I am able to walk, hike, swim, golf and play pickle ball now without favoring my surgical knee.
Before TKR I made adjustments all the time so that my good knee absorbed most of the weight while walking or playing. It takes a conscious effort but you will notice the change and eventually you will be able to walk and play without thinking about your surgical knee.
I’m sure my non-surgically repaired knee appreciates that the “bad” knee can carry its weight now!
I Continue to Exercise
I continue to exercise and work specifically on strengthening my surgical knee. Several of my friends and acquaintances stopped doing formal exercise once their formal physical therapy sessions ended.
They have shared with me that they have soreness and stiffness all the time and wonder why I don’t. My answer is that I do experience some soreness and stiffness but I have continued to be diligent and work on my knee 3 to 4 times a week (read my post surgery workout routine).
Our first thought is to rest our knee and not exercise much. I believe that staying active, while not over-doing it, has helped the joint heal and strengthen.
If I sit for prolonged periods of time without getting up to stretch (movies, plays, sporting events, and plane trips) my knee definitely gets stiff.
As I mentioned in other articles, I try to sit in back rows at the theaters so that I can stand up periodically. I also get up and stretch during every time out at a sporting event and I walk the aisles when flying every 30 to 40 minutes.
I Continue To Choose My Activities Wisely
I would advise you to be thoughtful about what activities you plan to engage in post TKR. Thanks to TKR I now can exercise and participate in activities pain free.
This has made it easier for me to walk and to maintain a regular exercise program. Prior to TKR I knew that walking and activities would be painful.
Now I look forward to walks, regular workouts and activities. I know that there are certain activities that I will never be able to participate in no matter how strong I think my knee is.
I won’t kick soccer balls or footballs with my grandkids. I will not jog or run for exercise. I loved playing basketball but I am now content to watch others play.
I have heard stories of other TKR patients returning to jogging and even basketball. My doctor told me that I could do those activities but that he would not advise it.
I want my new knee to last my lifetime and I don’t mind putting limitations on what I can and should do. Be realistic and make good choices.
I’m now more confident about my knee than I was for the 20 years prior to knee replacement. Have confidence in your new knee and make a conscious effort to not favor your surgical knee.
Continue to make TKR recovery a part of your life. Dedicate time each week to maintaining a healthy and strong knee as part of a total body workout.
Visit the gym on a regular basis and find an activity like swimming or cycling that is good for you and your knee.
Choose your activities wisely and don’t think that your new knee will allow you to be a kid again.