Working Out After Knee Surgery – When Is it Possible?


If you are into fitness in a big way, then you might be at the point where the biggest concern following an operation is the amount of muscle mass you are likely to lose. The doctor will undoubtedly tell you that you should not work out or exercise until several weeks to several month after the operation but you can expect this to result in a fairly large amount of muscle loss.

Of course the exact amount of time that you can not work out following knee surgery will depend on the nature of the surgery – some will leave you incapacitated for only a few days while others might be a month’s worth.

Of course you should follow your doctor’s advice regarding this, and they are only trying to help your recovery by advising you to stay away from the weights. However what the doctor possibly is not aware of is how much working out you can do without affecting your knee, and here is where you can ‘cheat’ slightly.

For example, you can of course workout your entire upper body with any exercises that allow you to sit down. Bicep curls, bench press, pec flies etc will ensure that it is only your legs that deteriorate. In fact by focussing entirely on your upper body you will have a day or two free to dedicate further to your arms or torso which means your upper body strength might actually increase. Furthermore, if you have crutches then this is a great opportunity to create a 24-hour workout for your upper body if you use them in the correct way.

You are also able to train your other leg, though this might result in your musculature becoming uneven – which is a big problem for serious bodybuilders. If you want to take it even further though, you can even train your hips and thigh muscles with the thigh master, and train your calves in calf exercises that allow you to sit down. This way it is only your quadriceps and your hamstrings that will be affected by knee surgery. Ask your doctor if it is okay to try tensing these muscles or using an electrical stimulator to train them without resistance – you do need to ask as both the quads and hamstrings exert force on the knees and this could interfere with your recovery. Meanwhile eat lots of protein and you should not notice too much of a decline in your legs.

Before you return to squatting and leg extensions you need to consult your doctor. At the same time though listen to your own body and how it feels. Try not to jump in the deep end either, and start off with some swimming or cycling, either of which will train your legs in a low impact manner. When you do return to your normal training routine, start with light weights and a knee support (again ask your doctor for advice on the best knee supports available). If you notice any pain during or after the exercise then hold off for a bit longer before you return. Remember – if you cause it to re-break then it will only mean longer before you can return.

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Christopher Jacoby

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Christopher Jacoby