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Use these exercises to get back on your feet faster when recovering from knee surgery

by , 09 April 2015

News that Victor Matfield will have to undergo urgent knee surgery has come as a big blow to the Springbok team. After all, the 2015 Rugby World Cup is just around the corner and we all know recovering from knee surgery can be a lengthy and painful process.

Luckily, it's not an uncommon procedure. (In fact, millions of people around the world undergo this procedure every year.) And that means a lot of research has been done on how to recover from it faster.

One of the best recovery methods is exercise therapy.

And today, we're sharing five knee exercises you can do if you find yourself in the same boat as Matfield.


Use these five physical therapy exercises to help your knee heal faster

The knee exercises we’re about to share with you are there to help you strengthen your knee and improve flexibility so you can get back on your feet faster after knee surgery. According to physical therapists, you should aim for ten repetitions in the first week, 15 in week two and 20 every week thereafter. 
Knee exercise #1: Straight leg lifts
What it helps with: Designed to help strengthen your quads, this exercise will help bring stability back to your knee.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your legs fully extended. Lift your leg 15cm off the floor and hold for ten seconds. (This is one rep.)
Knee exercise #2: Ankle pumps
What it helps with: One of the biggest risks you face after knee surgery is deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and blood clots. This exercise helps circulate blood back to your heart and reduces swelling. This, in turn, minimises your risk of DVT. 
How to do it: Lie flat on your back. Bend your ankle up and point your toes towards you. Then bend your ankle and point your toes away from you. Rotate your foot clockwise and then counter-clockwise – keeping your toes pointed up to the ceiling. 
Knee exercise #3: Thigh squeezes
What it helps with: This exercise builds your distal quad strength (the muscle you use to keep your knees locked while standing) and reduces after-surgery swelling. 
How to do it: Lie on your back. Tighten your thigh muscle and push the back of your knee into the floor. Hold for five seconds and release. 
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Knee exercise #4: Leg slides
What it helps with: By activating your abductors, this exercise stabilises your pelvis when you’re walking and takes the pressure off your knee. 
How to do it: Lying on your back, legs out in front of you. Slide your leg to out to the side. (Your kneecap must point up in this position). Then slide your leg back to your original position. 
Knee exercise #5: Knee bending
What it helps with: Don’t let stiffness settle into your knee after surgery. Use this exercise to improve your range of motion. 
How to do it: Sit down in a chair and bend your leg until it’s underneath the seat (make sure you bend your knee as far back as you can without hurting yourself.) Hold it there for five seconds. Return to normal sitting position. 
Warning: Recovering from knee surgery isn’t easy. But when your doctor gives the “okay”, chat to him about which of these physical therapy exercises are safe for your knee to do. 

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