How To Speed Up Recovery After A Knee Replacement
With the signs of spring upon us it seems fitting that the theme of my next 4 posts will be about liberating yourself from a long and drawn out recovery. While there are pockets of solid recovery instruction, I am painfully aware that many people will not have access and will find the recovery burdensome. So in honor of spring read on..because there is a method that achieves predictable AND excellent results.
During the course of my physical therapy career, I inadvertently stumbled on an interesting finding-I could predict patients knee flexion range of motion recovery/per day, when they diligently followed the system that I taught them.
Nothing in my training or professional instruction prepared me for this revelation. Up to that point in my career, and even today conventional wisdom remains that, “All patients are different and progress at different rates based on their motivation, follow-through, and perhaps background. Despite everyone being given the same or similar protocol, recovery was and is still highly variable.
What I had discovered was the synergistic effect of combining several well-established principles into a comprehensive system. I’ve named this system- “No Days to Waste”, because each and every person’s life is too valuable to waste weeks and even months struggling to recover after surgery.
This post initiates a 4 part series introducing several of the core principles that make the No Days To Waste System so effective. I will also be using this series to explain the theory and uses of the F.L.EX Bar- a patented tool specifically created to promote accelerated knee range of motion recovery.
Patients who purchase my book can get the F.L.EX bar blueprint that shows them how to make the tool at home. Since writing the book, readers who lack the interest or aptitude to make the bar have requested a purchase option. That is now a reality along with a new manual that goes into greater depth on how to implement and carry out the “No Days To Waste” Strategy.
Two Core Principles
Power leverage and the feedback loop are two of the seven core principles that are used to speed up your range of motion recovery following surgery.
For the sake of this series let’s assume you have adequate pain management. (less than 5 out of 10)
Leverage is using some force besides the power of the surgical leg alone to assist in bending the knee. This is important because swelling tends to restrict your ability to bend the knee. The action of bending the knee helps drive fluid out of the knee and into the surrounding tissues. A good source of leverage makes it easier to bend the knee and accomplish the task of driving fluid out of the knee.
Now that you know why leverage is important, I want to teach you the parameters of how to control it.
Let’s Start With The Concept Of 3-Level Stretching.
A Level One Stretch is a low intensity stretch. It is a relatively easy motion that will only maintain your present range. Generally you are able to do other activities as well, like talk on the phone, watch TV or read the newspaper. Progress with range of motion will be minimal or non-existent if the intensity remains at this level. There is high potential to form adhesions when patients do not push onward.
A Level Two Stretch is a moderate intensity stretch. There will be some discomfort and feeling of pulling in your knee. Patients in this mode are focused and do not want to chit-chat or do anything else while so engaged. The stretching does not seem easy at first but after 10-20 repetitions and a 10-15 second hold, the knee loosens up and might even begin to feel more like a level one.
A Level Three Stretch is a high intensity stretch. You are at the end range of comfort and safety but will make excellent progress at this level. Discomfort should never be over 5/10. Your goal for each session should be to gradually get to Level 3. Being too aggressive in this level may cause a stretching injury and/or a stabbing, sharp painful sensation that causes automatic recoil from the stretch.
Commonly, patients fear applying force in therapy after surgery because they have no idea how to approach a Level 3 stretch to get the benefit without the danger. This reality is why I only recommend certain types of leverage and why the additional principle of feedback is so important as a complimentary strategy.
The risk of danger in Level three can be mitigated with our next principle, feedback. The feedback method taught makes it easy to approach a low to mid-Level Three stretch with complete safety and confidence.
Already know you want a fast start on your recovery?
Watch Part Two of the Video Series: The Number 1 Reason for Slow Recovery
Watch Part Three of the series: Why traditional stretching methods could prolong your recovery!
Watch Part Four of the Video Series: Is the Rehab Industry Being Honest About the Effectiveness of Their Treatment Methods