Stepping out after a knee replacement

Stepping out after knee replacement surgery
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on January 10, 2017

After his knee replacement surgery, doctors and nurses called Gary Granza “Yoga Guy.”

Medical professionals huddled in his hospital room doorway and watched the Bonita Springs yoga teacher move into a full forward fold on the bed only hours after they replaced his right knee. The very first day (granted he was on pain blockers) he stood on one leg while holding the walker.

Gary laughs as he recalls the wide-eyed amazement as they said, “No one has ever done that before.”

He credits his yoga practice for carrying him through the ten years of pain before the surgery as well as his relatively swift recovery.  Immediately after the surgery, as he was weaned off the medication, he noted discomfort yes, but pain, no.

“It was just another signal my brain had to deal with,” he said.

And for Gary, this mindset, the awareness of the physical body’s connection to the mind and spirit, is essential for serene healing. He warns anyone else going through knee replacement surgery the absence of a consistent yoga practice is a disservice.

He noted people are resistant to the post-surgery process due to a combination of distrusting the new knee and not accepting the recovery won’t be “FM — (expletive) magic.”

“I told myself I was going to breathe.  I was going to focus.  I was going to move. Resistance is created when you are focused on something other than the present moment,” he said.

It’s been nine months, and there is some swelling and stiffness. He teaches yoga, swims in his pool, runs his dogs and sits in meditation with his legs crossed.

He is celebrating this opportunity to work on the basics of movement by taking himself where he can go rather than where he can’t.

“There is something that clicks in the mind when the body moves optimally and without pain,” he said.

Try Gary’s recovery routine after you check with your doctor:

  1. Begin in bed.

When you first wake, sit tall with your legs long in front of you.  Drop your shoulders, spread and lift your collarbone and push your hands into the mattress.

On the exhale, hinge from your hips and fold, only as far as your soft knees will allow.  Hold and breathe.

2.   Move into modified Happy Baby.

Lie back and bend your knees into your chest as far as is comfortable.  The leg with the knee replacement may be extended longer than the other.

Wrap your arms around your thighs and interlace your fingers.  Hold and feel the stretch along the upper hamstrings and glutes.

 

3.     While you make your coffee, move into modified Pyramid.

Stand in front of the counter and step back with the leg without the replacement.

Inhale, and on the exhale, hinge forward with a flat back.  Hold the edge of the counter and hold.  Be sure your hips are squared facing forward. Switch sides

 

 

 

4.    Finally, modified Tree Pose.

While holding your countertop, shift your weight to the leg with the replacement.

Make a kickstand with the opposite foot by pressing the heel against the ankle of the standing leg. When your strength and confidence grow, slide the sole of the foot up your standing leg and hold.

Gary Granza teaches yoga for athletes at FGCU; Ruby and Pearls, Fort Myers,  www.rubyandpearls.com; and BKS Yoga, Naples, www.bksyogastudio.com.

 

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