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Can I swim after a knee replacement?

I had a full knee replacement in January 2014 and started swimming again after being given the go-ahead by my surgeon.

I find breaststroke difficult – should those with knee replacements not to do it because it'll be uncomfortable bending the knee sufficiently or because the joint alignment will be affected by the sideways action?

Also, I attend an aquafit class but wonder whether jumping on the operated knee is a good idea?
Carolyn Booty, via email (Spring 2015)

Dr Tom Margham answers:

Dr Tom MarghamThe general advice is that you can start swimming around six weeks after a knee replacement but wait for 12 weeks after the operation before attempting breaststroke.

Breaststroke relies heavily on flexible legs and knees to generate forward movement. The kick puts extra side-to-side stresses on your knees, but certainly doesn’t rule out this stroke after a knee replacement. Any imperfection in your technique increases the stress, so a couple of sessions with a swimming instructor might be a good idea.

Aquafit classes are a really good way to get a mix of aerobic, resistance and flexibility exercise, and the water takes some of the pressure and helps to cushion impact on your joints. The classes can also be a good way to keep motivated and enjoy the social aspects of keeping fit.

Back to Surgery advice

Can I run after a partial knee replacement?

General advice after a total knee replacement is to avoid high-impact exercise, but unicompartmental knee replacements fare a little better because the joint is more stable...


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