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OK...so here's another post since, like I've said before, I keep writing the same stuff over and over again. This one's about walking...
You all know that they get you out of bed IMMEDIATELY at the hospital to get you walking again. This makes walking the #1 exercise you can do post-TKR. Great way to get your life back and start to break down that scar tissue.
So walking is of the most recommended activities but you have to avoid any impact...no running, jogging, etc. Most docs will suggest an elliptical machine or bike which have zero knee impact. If on a treadmill, you walk slowly, heel to toe. On hard concrete, get fitted for a fantastic, cushy pair of walking shoes (treat yourself!). It's all about keeping pressure and impact off the knee. A great pair of shoes is essential.
How often you walk is measured in steps...NOT MILES or KMs. Push the knee too far and it swells..period. Then it's back to rest, ice, elevate. The idea is to avoid that completely. To do that, you need to TRACK YOUR STEPS!!!
Get a pedometer (Fit Bit, Smart Watch, etc.) and track every step. Find your "pain point" (swelling baseline)...back off...ice...elevate...increase gradually. I did 8,200+ steps at 5 weeks and ended up with a hot-air balloon for a knee. Never did that again. Slow and steady increases. By 8 months, I was doing 11,000+ steps (5 miles) with zero swelling or pain.
There is no set of guidelines on how many steps you can/should do in a day/week/month. Everyone is different. You have to find your own limits and proceed from there. Believe me...your knee will yell at you when you've exceeded your current limit. So again...it's not miles...it's the steps that matter. You can walk every day if you like...just watch the steps. Take a day off here and there when you are tired or are experiencing pain or swelling. It's all very personal. Listen to your knee!
Any electronic pedometer will hook to your computer so you can actually see a graph of your progress. This is not only helpful in planning your recovery but inspirational because you can actually see your improvement right on the screen.
Also, know that this is NOT a linear process. There will be advances, setbacks and plateaus...be prepared for all of them. If you have a bad day or two, forget it and get back on track.
Lastly, you will literally have to learn how to walk again...HEEL, TOE. This is usually done with your PT and takes a few weeks to get your rhythm down again. Very normal. Do NOT get down on yourself and become discouraged. It's all completely normal. You have a 2 1/2 pound mechanical device implanted in your body...what do you expect? This takes time and work. Never give up on yourself...it all comes back to you in time.
I'm writing this at almost 15 months post-op. Some minor warmth from time to time...feel the pins and needles from the nerves only when I kneel down...zero pain, band feeling or swelling. Clunking sound? I think that will last forever. The biggest problem is strengthening and balance but that's all in another discussion on Post-TKR Exercising.
So get to walking. Crutches, cane walker at the beginning...no problem...even if it's for just 5 minutes. You'll be walking normally in time with zero assistance...just give yourself the space to get there with no expectations or mind games. It all works out.
Stairs? That's in another post. Pretty much the last big thing you have to conquer. For now, just walk until you feel normal again.
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