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If you are considering knee replacement surgery you likely have a lot of questions. Most questions have to do with post-surgery activities and range of motion. In this article I answer a question I received from a reader:
Will I be able to sit cross-legged after knee replacement surgery?
When I first read this question I wondered if it meant sitting on the floor cross-legged or sitting in a chair cross-legged. I’ve decided to answer both and share my thoughts.
Remember, we all have knee surgery for different reasons so your ability to sit cross-legged might be easier, or more challenging, than my experience.
Sitting Cross-Legged In My Youth
When I was a young boy in elementary school I remember sitting cross-legged listening to the teacher reading stories. I can also remember sitting for long periods of time cross-legged on the floor playing board games.
After breaking my leg in my twenties, followed by two meniscus surgeries on my knee soon after, my days of sitting cross-legged were over (read why I decided to get TKR).
I was able to sit upright in a chair with my healthy leg crossed over my opposite knee, but I was unable to cross my right knee over my opposite leg while sitting.
After TKR I asked my physical therapist if I would eventually be able to cross my surgical leg.
While sitting and if I would ever be flexible enough to sit cross-legged.
Below, you’ll find my attempts to both sit on the floor cross-legged and to sit in a chair with my surgical leg crossed over my opposite knee.
Cross-legged after TKR (A Self Assessment)
Recently, my physical therapist shared her thoughts on my flexibility. She believed that due to my bad knee I not only had a loss of flexibility in my knee but over time I had lost flexibility in my hip as well, especially when I had a full leg cast on my knee for 8 months back in my twenties.
She advised me to continually try to stretch the knee and hip when I was sitting watching TV or reading. Little by little, she thought I would gain more flexibility in both my knee and hip.
She also said that Yoga might be helpful (check out the exercises my physical therapist recommended).
I’ve taken her advice and when watching TV I cross my right leg over my left leg. I can feel the stretch even when I’m in a relaxed position.
At first it was only for short periods of time (20 seconds or less) as it was very uncomfortable (I use the word uncomfortable, as it was not painful).
I continue to sit this way and I can now do it for longer periods of time. I always use my hand to apply pressure on my right leg to help with the stretch.
I have also tried to do the same thing while sitting on the floor cross-legged watching TV. This is even more uncomfortable and I can only do it for 30 seconds to a minute without resting and starting over.
I also use both hands on the inside of my legs to push out on the inside of my knees.
Watching TV or concentrating on something besides the stretch helps me to prolong the amount of time I can sit cross-legged.
Tips for Increasing Knee Flexibility After TKR
- Stay moving.
- Get off the couch or out of your chair.
- Take walks and continue to do your TKR rehab exercise long after your formal physical therapy. This will help improve your flexibility and range of motion.
- Try something new like swimming, bike riding, yoga or stretching exercises (additional options from WebMD).
Anytime you are sitting watching television, try sitting with your surgical knee crossed over your opposite knee for as long as you can.
Also, sit on the floor and practice sitting cross-legged for as long as you can.
I am far from sitting cross-legged like my wife but I try as best as I can and I feel like I am making some progress even though it is really slow progress.
Check out the photos that I included in this article.
Though I don’t have the full range of motion I had as a child, I’m happy with the range of motion I now have after TKR and the best part is I don’t have the pain that I once had when I try to sit cross-legged.
As I’ve mentioned throughout my blog, it had been over 40 years since I could sit in a chair or on the floor cross-legged.
If you are able to sit cross-legged before your TKR surgery you might expect to be able to do the same after TKR surgery. Age may be a factor also as we all lose some of our flexibility as time goes by.
Weight may be another factor that might keep you from sitting cross-legged as well. Like any other activity, you need to think reasonably: could you do this (sit cross-legged) comfortably before your TKR?
Practice makes perfect. I hope you try some of my tips and that you see progress as time goes by.