When your knee is injured, the first thing you’re probably worrying about is, “When can I use it again?” Knee injuries are common and debilitating, but if you’re not careful about rehabilitating the right way, you may delay or even stop the healing process. Make sure you follow the proper steps, depending on where you are after your injury or surgery.
You can’t restore your knee’s strength and flexibility right away—first, you need to address the inflammation and pain. This is often referred to as the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rest is crucial for the healing process (as your knee is very vulnerable), and ice decreases pain and swelling, while compression assists with swelling and blood flow. One point the RICE mention leaves out is heat—once the swelling is no longer an issue, heat is often used to increase circulation and fight stiffness.
Range-of-motion exercises will probably be your next step towards stepping again. With gentle stretches, you will gradually improve your ability to bend and straighten your leg. Usually these will be done lying down, to reduce the stress on your leg and isolate the knee’s range of movement. One example is heel slides—lying on one’s back and pulling the heel gently towards the buttocks, sometimes by using a strap grabbed by the hands.
Finally, you can start rebuilding strength once your knee has regained full mobility. Once again, most of these are done while prone or sitting. For instance, lying on one’s stomach with a rolled-up towel underneath the ankle so that the knee is slightly bent, and then pushing down on the towel. These start small with simple stretches, but as your knee improves, you can add ankle weights and elliptical trainers into your routine.
Whether it’s an injury or a surgery, proper recovery is crucial. So, always follow the physical therapy schedule recommended by your doctor and listen to your physical therapist—they know the best way for you to recover. Physical therapists are also important for monitoring your progress and making adjustments to your routine if necessary.
The body is complicated, and so is the healing process—make sure a physical therapist is there with you for the journey. At Rebuilding Champions, we’ll make sure that you get a regiment that’s tailored to your individual needs and provides the most improvement as quickly as possible. Click on our “Contact Us” link to find a location near you, and to send us a message if you have questions about our services.