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Water aerobics can help you recover after a torn meniscus.
A meniscus can get torn in a variety of ways, but tears usually occur due to a traumatic event, such as an ill-planted leg during sports or blunt trauma to the knee. The pain, stiffness and weakness that accompany a torn meniscus can drastically impact your daily life. Along with surgery and physical therapy as needed, using a water aerobics program can help you recuperate after a torn meniscus. And because water-based exercise is low impact, you can get enough of a workout to achieve increased strength and endurance as well.
Benefits of Water Aerobics
Water aerobics provide a vast array of benefits for rehabilitating and strengthening your knee after a torn meniscus. Because you are able to exercise with significantly reduced impact on your knee, you can perform activities in the water that you cannot do on land. Also, because of the reduced impact, you will experience less pain and can begin to prepare your leg for more intense traditional exercises. With all of these benefits, you will be more likely to stick to your exercise routine and recuperate your knee sooner. Heated pools can also offer relief after the first 72 hours after injury by increasing circulation and promoting increased range of motion. Those who are overweight often experience the greatest relief from water aerobics since their buoyancy in water alleviates the pressure and pain they feel when walking or exercising out of water. For example, someone weighing 240 pounds will only have to lift around 50 pounds when in the water. And because the water surrounds you and protects you, you will have less risk of falling and injury as compared to exercises done out of the pool.
Examples of Exercises
After suffering a torn meniscus, you will need to strengthen your knee joint and surrounding leg muscles, as well as increase your knee range of motion to prevent further complications. Start in the deeper end of the pool with at least one foot of water below you so that you can move freely without touching the bottom of the pool. Tread water slowly to warm up your knee tissue, using a floating device at first to reduce the amount of effort you need to make. Then, holding onto a floatation device as a counter balance, perform a series of exercises including gentle knee kicks, marches and backwards buttocks kicks. Advance from 10 repetitions to 40, or as long as you are able to tolerate the exercise without significantly increased pain. The density of the water will resist these exercises and help you to effectively strengthen your knee and surrounding muscles.
After you have built up your tolerance with basic exercises, advance to more intense exercises. Use a paddle board to offset your body weight and kick gently from one side of the pool to the other, taking breaks as needed. Progress from walking to an easy jog in the shallow end, allowing your feet to barely touch the floor of the pool to avoid too much impact. Finish each session with range of motion, which is a very important and effective component of your exercise routine after a torn meniscus. Stand with your back up against the wall of the pool in the shallow end and try to straighten your knee slowly until it is flush with the wall. Repeat 10 times, holding for 30 seconds at the end range.
When to Seek Professional Help
You will most likely need to see your doctor and physical therapist after a torn meniscus. During the acute phase in the first 2 months after the injury, you can benefit from guided exercises and modalities from a physical therapist. In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the injured tissue, replace the meniscus or clean out damaged tissue, which can impact your long-term outcomes. See your medical professional for severe pain or any issue that limits you from fully participating in your daily activities.