Your knees withstand a significant amount of pressure, supporting your body weight throughout the day. Over time, the cartilage that supports your knee joint can begin to wear down, causing the bones of the knee joint to rub together. The knee consists of the patella, bottom of the thighbone and top of the lower leg bones. When the knee joint deteriorates to the point where you experience extreme pain, your physician may recommend a knee replacement. This surgery removes your diseased knee joint to put a strong, durable knee implant in. Following surgery, the ability to return to activities like jogging is dependent upon your individual recovery.
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Adjusting to Your New Knee
Following joint replacement surgery, your physician will recommend physical therapy exercises to stretch and move the leg, helping to stimulate your circulation. These exercises are important to follow because they develop the muscles around the knee that give you added stability. While your physician will likely clear you to walk, jogging is not appropriate at this time because it may put too much stress on the knee immediately following surgery. Because it takes six to eight weeks for some surgical wounds to heal, you may be limited to low-impact activities like indoor cycling or dancing. A full recovery can take between six months and one year.
A study published in the April 2000 issue of “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise,” conducted by Markus Kuster and others, examined the impact of different activities on a knee replacement implant. The study measured the impact of power walking, cycling and jogging using pressure measurements to determine how much stress is placed on the knee replacement with each exercise. While power walking and cycling were not found to place excess pressure on the knee replacement, jogging was found to place almost three times as much pressure as walking on the joint replacement. For this reason, the researchers recommended that physicians discourage post-knee replacement patients from jogging.
Concerns for Jogging
When you take a step while jogging, your foot absorbs the impact, then your ankle, up to your knees, which means your knees must absorb the shock. This can be a concern after knee replacement because loosening of the knee replacement can make the replacement less successful. The cement that holds the knee replacement in place can crumble or the bones that support the knee replacement can deteriorate, reducing the replacement’s effectiveness. While you want to exercise to keep the muscles around the knee strong, jogging can sometimes place too much strain on your joint replacement. This is especially true if you are overweight because your weight places added strain on the knee.
Your ability to jog after knee replacement surgery depends upon your health, physical recovery and surgeon’s recommendations. While higher impact activities like running or downhill skiing may place too much impact on the joint, jogging represents a compromise between low-impact walking and high-impact running. Check with your physician before beginning a jogging program and discuss signs that your joint replacement is becoming looser. This includes difficulty bearing weight on your knee or pain in the knee joint.