We previously discussed the importance of regaining range of motion as soon as possible following knee replacement surgery. While some patients make this process look very easy, others struggle. It is important to relax while stretching (mentally as well as physically.) If your muscles are contracting while you are trying to increase joint range of motion, you are really just performing an isometric strengthening exercise, and causing pain and inflammation. I recommend extended duration stretching, with duration of stretch measured in minutes, not seconds. This takes advantage of the viscoelastic nature of biologic tissues.
While knee flexibility is diminished you could consider using a non-flexible yoga strap to help you stretch. Below, I have provided a few examples of how I would use such a device to rehabilitate my knee. Feel free to be creative...I am sure you can figure out additional ways to use this strap. Click here for a link to the device I used to make these videos.
The first 3 videos will help you regain flexion while the final video focuses on extension.
Flexing the hip while also flexing the knee focuses most of the stretch on the knee joint. These first two videos demonstrate different ways to accomplish that. In the video below, notice how I am using my torso to generate the force needed to flex the knee. I then take up the slack created in the yoga strap with my arms. Also feel free to use your other leg to help generate flexion force as I demonstrate.
The next video demonstrates how to use the strap to improve knee flexion while keeping the hip extended. This is done in the prone position. This will focus more of the stretch on the quadriceps muscle. I recommend stretching in each of these positions for the best result.
Excellent knee function also requires full knee extension. The strap can help you achieve this as well. In the following video, I loop the strap over the knee to be stretched. I then place my other foot through a loop in each limb of the strap so that it does not touch the ground, but applies an extension force to the knee.
The use of a yoga strap for knee replacement rehabilitation is certainly not mandatory, but simply provides another option to assist you. Always remember to use ice after stretching, hold the stretches for as long as possible, and relax your mind and muscles as much as possible during the stretch.
Orthopedic Surgeon focused on the entire patient, not just a single joint.