After the NUsurface® Implant meniscus surgery, it’s understandable that you’ll be eager to return to a knee pain-free, active lifestyle. While there are several factors that will determine how quickly, or completely, you recover from your meniscus surgery – such as your age or weight – it’s important to remember that adhering to a rehabilitation program recommended by your treatment team and slowly resuming appropriate activity are just as important as the surgery itself.
So when should you expect to experience relief from knee pain and be able to get back out there? By three months after surgery, the majority of patients have completely recovered with little to no meniscus pain and are able to return to many activities that were too difficult previously. If you’ve been cleared by your doctor and are wondering what activities are safe to restart activity after meniscus surgery, here are some ideas of things you can do that avoid placing unnecessary stress on your knee joint:
1. Walking (don’t run!)
Experts say walking outside your home 3-5 times each day is one of the best ways to regain your knee strength. While you may need to adjust the length of your step and speed, you will be able to spend more time walking for exercise once your muscle strength improves.
2. Low-impact Aerobics
These classes are available at most gyms or recreation centers, and there are countless video workouts you can find online (many for free!) or on DVD that you can do at home whenever it’s convenient for you. Just make sure to skip high-impact exercises like jumping rope, hopping and skipping.
It’s generally safe to get back on the lanes with friends or family. However, you may want to consider using a lighter ball to reduce stress to your knee.
The golf course is a great place to walk while exercising muscles in both your upper and lower body. Just remember to spend adequate time warming up at the driving range, and maintain good balance when you hit the ball. Also, avoid wearing spikes that could get caught in the ground and cause you to twist your knee, and make sure to use a golf cart for some relief throughout the day.
While you should avoid high-impact moves like jumping or lifts, ballroom dancing and gentle modern dancing are great ways to use leg muscles, engage in aerobic activity and have fun! Just be sure to avoid abrupt movements or twists that could potentially put your knee out of alignment.
Once the wound has healed, many people choose swimming as their exercise of choice as it’s not a weight-bearing activity and therefore reduces stress to the joints. If your knee is still a bit tender, opt for water aerobics or pool walking.
Gentle stretching is a great way to improve your flexibility and boost the overall health of the knee. However, it’s important to let your instructors know that you’re recovering from a surgery as they will likely modify the movements and poses to help you reduce strain to your knee. If you’re doing yoga at home, be sure to avoid twisting movements and keep your knees aligned with your hips and ankles.
Resuming normal activity in a boat or canoe is a great way to be active while enjoying the outdoors. Consider starting with shorter distances and increasing the length of your session slowly to ensure your knee is comfortable with the movement.
Some additional activities that are recommended if you have had experience with them prior to your surgery include cycling, hiking, rowing, cross-country skiing, stationary skiing, speed walking, doubles tennis and ice skating. Activities such as racquetball, rock climbing, jogging/running, singles tennis, martial arts and contact sports such as football, hockey and soccer are not recommended due to the strain they put on the knee and the risk for re-injury.
Whichever activity you choose, remember that rushing into activities before you’ve recovered sufficiently from your meniscus replacement surgery may put you at risk for complications. As everyone’s condition is unique, please check with your doctor first before resuming any activity after meniscus surgery.