The days, weeks and months leading up to knee replacement surgery can be a difficult time. You know you’re headed into a life-altering procedure and probably have no shortage of things running through your mind. It does get easier the second+ time around, but there’s always anxiety going into surgery, especially if you don’t properly prepare, both physically and emotionally. Here are a few of our most popular pre-surgery tips to maximize your results and settle your nerves:
Watch Your Weight
As you know, your knees are responsible for supporting a good percentage of your body weight. Every 10 pounds above your ideal body weight puts additional strain and pressure on your knee’s tendons, ligaments and accessory structures. So, if you can manage to smartly lose some of that extra weight (don’t go on a crash diet), do it. Get plenty of non-repetitive and non-jarring exercise (swimming, elliptical machine, etc.) and watch what you eat. Trust me, you’ll be rewarded in spades during rehab — the more fit, your body, the quicker it’ll heal, accommodate the new knee implant and ultimately, result in a better outcome.
Get Plenty of Rest
People constantly underestimate the importance of sleep. It’s your body’s way of rejuvenating all of its key organs and systems. Research has proven that a few hours of deep REM sleep is magnitudes better for your long-term health than staying up during those same hours. Without getting into the biology and physiology, your cells and tissues NEED the downtime and the opportunity to “reset” themselves, without the constant demand of activity during waking hours. So, give your body a break and get on a regular sleeping schedule (at least 8 hours per day) and even try to mix in power naps (10-30 min at a time) during the day. Post-surgery, it’s probably even more important, so set a precedent leading up to your procedure and carry it all the way through recovery.
Strengthen Your Leg Muscles
During rehab, your knee will be relying on all the structures around it for stability, mobility and nourishment. For that very reason, most doctors recommend you strengthen your thigh and calf muscles before surgery. Now, that doesn’t mean anything crazy like lifting heavy free weights or pushing them to their max. In fact, your best option is to start performing isometric exercises, which minimize the strain on joints as they target the auxiliary muscles and tendons. Another great option is basic yoga. Again, don’t overdo it and risk pulling a muscle, but using your own body weight to stretch out and sustain a position using your leg muscles is a superb way to comprehensively target every muscle fiber in the area.
There’s nothing worse than the unknown. It leads to fear and stress, both horrible for healing. Before your surgery date, make sure you discuss everything with your doctor, including where the surgery will take place, how long it’ll likely take, how many days you might stay in the hospital (if at all), etc. The more you know, the more empowered you’ll feel. Speaking of which, always stay positive, pre and post-surgery. There’s a definite link between optimism and healing. At night, visualize your body/tissues repairing themselves and start planning for your life post-surgery. The mind is a very powerful thing — use it to your full advantage and before you know it, you’ll be fully recovered and another successful chapter in your life’s journey will have been written.