- December 22, 2020
- Posted by: Ilana Viskovich
- Category: Knee Injuries, knee pain, Running injuries
Were you told you will never run or jump again? I have an interesting read for you…
In the early 2000s, you were told to go home and rest your knee after your joint replacement. The joint replacement included two implants, one cemented onto your tibia and the other onto your femur. Between the two implants was a plastic bearing. You were told you could walk, play golf and potentially one day kneel. But, running and jumping was out of the question. We feared it would either break the cement or wear out the plastic bearing. But, advances in technology are responsible for improvements in plastic durability and the elimination of bone cement in most operations. Instead of using cement, the body now grows bone into the porous under surface of the implant, permanently securing it. So the question is, why not run?
What we did see was those patients who followed the conservative advice had a higher rate of bone osteoporosis and muscle weakening. In fact, joint failure may have been increased by following these lighter recommendations. There has been a lot of research conducted into improving the longevity of joint replacements, because it’s expensive to re-do and we need them to last a lifetime. What we found was by supervising the gradual return to running and spring activities like jumping, we build bone density and muscle strength. This reduced the risk of joint loosening and failure. We also found strong muscles, better balance and a healthy gait pattern improves the tracking of the knee, reducing the wear and tear on the plastic bearing, improving longevity. So, if you once enjoyed running and are keen to return to it, or even if you want the confidence to jog around the backyard with your grandkids, we can get you there with good rehabilitation.
However, most people who have succumbed to a knee replacement have not gone for a jog in years due to the pain. You’ve lost your normal gait pattern, feeling weak in your hips and leg muscles and have compensated with altered walking mechanics. It takes months of intense exercise training under the guidance of a Physiotherapist to restore optimal body mechanics. The bone healing onto the porous surface of the implant is mostly complete after six weeks, but it will take four to six months of exercise rehabilitation before running is safe. We start with Pilates, gait training, core fitness, balance training and weightlifting before we progress to outdoor running.
But to sum it up, if you have been told you need a knee replacement, and you have exhausted your other options (like our GLA:D program), don’t accept a knee replacement as the end of your active days. Use it as a reason to get stronger, fitter and faster than you have been in years. Total body strength and fitness is the key to a long-lasting joint replacement and a healthy life.