18 Months Post-op TKR - What exercises can I do?

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Had a very slow recovery from TKR in Feb 2014.  Required a Manipulation after 6 weeks and probably was a full YEAR before I felt less pain than before the Op.  Should point out that I'd had over 20 Ops across both knees over past 40 years and was told at age 30 that I would need 2 new knees but they wouldn't do them till I was 55.  Had first one done at 53.5 so got in early ;-)

Was obviously very low after the Op as I got A) An abcess the size of a small country on side of face (from under a tooth) - Then B) Came out in Hives when someone changed the type of Laundry powder (I generally change powder every time one is on offer and never had an issue). 

Was physcologically beat after 3-4 months as saw NO improvement despite taking huge amounts of pain trying to get knee bending.  Good news is I did come out the other end and suddenly my knee started feeling like a real knee again. Around 12 months post-op I realised I wasn't feeling any arthritis pain (in that knee - still plenty in the other).

Whilst I'm very happy with where I am now, I still have an issue in as much as I'm 19 Stone and really have to bash the Cardio to keep my weight even half way manageable (I was 17.5 Stone with 7% Body Fat when I played professional sport aged 30).

I have been using an Eliptical x-trainer 5 times a week for an Hour each time burning 1000 Calories per session.  I can use this method but am scared that I may be wearing out my knee as it's equivalent to about 30KM per week at quite a high resistance (to burn 1000 cals).

So I started to replace the x-trainer with swimming thinking it maybe even less impactful and, in an hour, I'm only swimming about 1K.

Here's my problem - Due to shoulder injury (from contact sports back in the day) the only stroke I can really do (for a prolonged period) is Breath Stroke.  I'm now concerned that it may be the WORST stroke for people with TKR as it involves kicking the legs from the knees and they're not always in-line (like when doing freestyle)

So my quiestion is - Does anyone with TKR do long stretches of BREATH STROKE swimming and has it had any negative effect over the long term?

I'm annoyed that even though I can bend my knee probably to somewhere near 110/120 degrees, I still can't get "Over the Top" when trying to ride a bike without pain and swelling.  If I cycle 1KM on the flat at very gentle pace, I can't walk for about a week as knee swells 12-24 hours after bike ride.

Being that I'm not a small chap - What exercises could people recommend where I can burn plenty of cals without wearing out my TKR

Thanks for any/all advice

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7 Replies

  • Posted

    hi i too had a long road in my bi lateral and revision its such a long road ,trying to loose weight as well is very hard work , before the ops i lost a fair bit of weight to make sure i gave op my best shot but when op went wrong i lost a further 2 stone i ended up a skeliton  . so in the end i had no muscle and was so weak ,you are so right to excersise but we definanitly have to be carefull not to over do it ,!! im 10mths post revision and at last im coming back ,like you im wanting to build myself up im starting to cycle the stationary bike more often on up hill   mode  what im struggling to under stand is that you say you cant pedel the bike without pain ive only got 95 degrees and can turn the pedels to cycle full round  i would have thought if i had 110/120 id be able to do it without a problem , also maybe with wanting to burn cals as we all want to give our knees the best chance would tackling the weight be better and maybe do some walking .if the cycling is making your leg swell it might be better to give it a rest and continue with swimming i am also trying to loose weight  ive started back on the ducan diet i found it great  i wish you the best as you have had such a hard time
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    • Posted

      Thanks Linda.

      Will give me something to talk to physio about.  I can knee well past 95 but still can't get over the top when cycling and did have the physio there to make sure I had the seat set correctly.

      At moment, I'm continuing with the Breath Stroke swimming but at a fairly slow pace.  I'm also starting to add a few lengths of freestyle kick (from hips not knees) whilst using a kick board.  On top of that I'm doing sets of underwater High knee lift striding, walking with hands behind back (so I'm not tempted to pull the water with my hands), and a few lengths walking backwards.

      Feeling sort of toned - but no difference to weight ;-)

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    • Posted

      that sounds good excersises so its the diet now and keep the excersises going i know its hard to get it all right as we are not as mobile as we would like i too agree the seat is probably too low some physio try to get you to use the seat lower   i bought a second hand excersise bike for at home and find it good  i must admit im not a lover of it but i do use it i find my knee is stronger and more mobile after it 
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  • Posted

    Cross trainers are good and exercise bike with seat high will allow full turn. I was told that even though I could do breastroke if I do a lot of it then it could cause problems and to stick to back and front crawl. Backstroke burns calories and breastroke really not as good for weight loss. Walking short distances ok. Do little and often but main thing of course is eating. I strongly suggest you try slimming world if ur in England it will work for you losing weight slowly healthily and carefully
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    • Posted

      Many thx.  I'll give backstroke a try but suspect same issue as front crawl (IE it feels like someone has torn my left arm off).  May start to use a kickboard and do many lengths kicking from the hips.

      Will def kick the breast stroke in the head as it seems very slow and even after 20 lengths, I'm hardly out of breath (plus it's killing to get overtaken by EVERYONE in pool) 

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  • Posted

    I had TKR 3 years ago, very succesful.

    I went to consultant for 6 week appointment.

    He siad I could go back to swimming then but not to do breast stroke for another 6 weeks.

    Now I do breast stroke no problem at all.

    As for other exercises.

    I used to do exercises with my knee I was doing at physio.

    Bought some ankle weights from sports shop.

    So just bending and straightening with weights.

    Then standing with a chair infront of me and bending my knee up and down (without weights) and from side to side and backwards and forwards.

    I was doing these exercises up until end of last year when I had gallstones.

    I have now had my gallbladder out, am feeling better and am thinking I need to get back to these knee exercises again.

    I am only 8 stone so do not have the problem with having to lose weight.

    Hope this helps

    Take care and keep in touch


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    • Posted

      OK - So at least I know Breath strokes not a long term issue.  It may be that I could continue if I go to a swim coach and learn how to do the stroke properly.  Could also be that because I can't PULL too much due to my shoulder injuries, I may inadvertently be trying to PUSH too hard with the knees.  When I find a comfortable balance, I'm very slow and don't feel out of breath after 20 lengths.

      I think I'll definitely invest in a few sessions with a good swim coach and get a program I can follow without worry.

      Walking's not a great option for me I'm afraid.  Knee swells up pretty regul;arly if covering more than (say) one mile.  Also have issues standing for periods longer than about 5 mins.

      Due to the number of previous ops (over 20 across both knees) my surgeon did say he'd fitted a new engine...........but the body works has still been twice round the world.

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