As a water based exercise specialist I regularly meet clients for pre and post knee surgery exercise programs to help tone and strengthen leg muscles in the lead up to, and weeks following knee surgery. While it is good advice to go into surgery with as much fitness as possible it can be quite another thing to find exercises that do not create pain. Water bridges the gap. Here’re my top 4 exercises that will help retain leg strength prior to surgery:
1) in deep water use a noodle behind you and under arms to keep you buoyant, now stretch out front and back mimicking a cross country skiing action. Keep shoulders over the hips and ankles as deep as possible. This tones the buttocks and thighs.
2) again in deep water and using a buoyant aide cycle your legs like you have really big pedals on a bike, cycle your legs around and again have shoulders over hips and ankles deep. This tones thighs and hamstrings, and buttocks if you really stretch and lengthen
3) again suspended in deep water this move is on the spot. Sit like you are on a chair, widen your knees. Without moving your hips extend one leg, bend the other to touch your own bottom, bend – straighten, bend – straighten – bend. Think of a Russian Cossack dancer – that’s the move – it’s just suspended in water. This tones the thigh muscles focusing on the quad or front of the thigh
4) come to the pool edge and have everything in contact with the pool side, keep the hips still and lift the heel to kick the bottom – left right, bend, straighten. This tones the thigh muscles focusing on the hamstrings (back of the thigh).
There are many exercises in addition to these that will ensure you are in the best shape possible prior to your surgery. And if you are confident with these movements when you have recovered you can return to the pool with your body already familiar with these movements, and then you can pick up where you left off but with a nice new knee to move forward with.