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Arthroscopic knee surgery is a common procedure that can treat several disorders and injuries. With minimal invasion, a surgeon can perform extensive repairs to the knee joint without creating a large scar, minimizing the risk of infection and boosting the speed of recovery.
Quadriceps: The Key Muscle
Begin post-surgery with your physical therapist. It is imperative to see a professional physical therapist to ensure that proper exercises are done at the right times to make a complete recovery. The most important thing that you will exercise first will be your quadriceps. These muscles always "shut down" after any knee surgery, no matter how small. But the quads are the locking muscles for your knee and provide stability, a without strong quads, you cannot safely use your knee.
Lying on your back or in a reclined position, straighten your legs until the backs of your knees are flat against the floor. Using the muscles that ring your knee cap, tighten your knee and push your kneecap down toward the floor while squeezing your quadriceps muscle. This will actually make your kneecap "move" up your leg toward your pelvis as the muscles tighten. Immediately after surgery, this will be very painful and very difficult, but it is important to start the exercise within hours of coming out of surgery. Do 10 per set (with a max of three sets) and hold each muscle contraction for at least 10 seconds.
Under the supervision of your physical therapist, you will begin leg lifts. These are performed while you are lying down. Because the quad will not want to work, it will be the haunch muscle that wants to kick in. Therefore, it is important to lay the leg straight, then engage the quad muscle as if you were doing a Quad Set as described above. Then, and only then, can you lift the leg.
Raise the leg at least 18inches high, then hold the leg straight---pushing the quad muscles to hold tight---then lower your leg to the floor and release the quad muscle. Repeat. Start with one set of 20 and work your way up to three sets of 20 with each leg.
Leg Lifts II
Lying on your side, engage your quad muscles around the knee. Keeping your leg straight, lift it toward the ceiling. Hold for at least five seconds to start, then lower. Repeat in the same fashion as you did the above step. As strength returns to your quads, you can hold for longer times, working your way up to a 20-second hold. Lying on your belly, engage your quad muscle and raise your leg toward the ceiling. It is important to raise it at least 10 inches. Hold in the same pattern as mentioned previously. Then lower and release. All these leg lifts will greatly strengthen your quad muscles and help you on your way to a full recovery.