Your hips and knees take the brunt of the stress of walking, running and jumping. What stress isn't absorbed here is absorbed in the spine. It is no wonder, then, that keeping your hips and knees strong and healthy is important to your overall well-being. At the same time, physiotherapy for both the hips and knees requires restraint--keeping yourself from doing too much too soon. If you do, you risk further injury.
Physiotherapy is a series of treatment methods that helps restore the body to optimal performance after injury or illness. While most people are familiar with the exercise portions of physiotherapy, other modalities are utilised when you see your therapist. These may be used prior to exercise being approved by your doctor or in conjunction with them. In dealing with the knees or hips, it is important to not start weight bearing exercises until your doctor has given approval.
If you start too soon you may increase the chance of re-injury and permanent damage. Prior to stretching and weight training your physiotherapist will use ice massage in the injured area to reduce pain and swelling. You may also have ultrasound treatments that stimulated circulation and reduce scar tissue development. TENS units can stimulate muscles with electrical impulses to help increase circulation and reduce atrophy in muscles that you are unable to use because you cannot place weight on them.
Along with the previously described methods, your physiotherapist will work with you to regain the stability needed in the hip for balance and walking. The first stage of weight bearing physiotherapy on the hip is a protected stage. This involves using a walker or other walking aids that help you restore basic movements. Your physiotherapist will also help stretch the legs and do passive movements where they do move your leg through the motion, limiting stress.
Depending on your progress, it will take two to six weeks to move into the next state where you are able to fully bear weight on the hips and walk. You will begin to work on core stability, increasing the strength of your legs and abdominal muscles. As you move into advanced exercises, you will continue to do stretches to keep the hips and leg muscles limber, and increase balance work. You will increase cardiovascular workouts and start to incorporate higher impact training such as jogging into your rehabilitation.
Like the hip, if you have suffered a serious knee injury, take your time before returning to weight bearing exercises. Once you have approval from your doctor, you will stretch the muscles in the lower and upper leg to maintain flexibility. A knee brace should be worn through the early stages of physiotherapy as you limit the amount of weight on the knee. You will begin exercises to strengthen the quadriceps muscles. You will start with low weight and gradually increase to doing standing squats then squats with weights. You will also work the hamstring muscles, gradually increasing weight.
Lunges and wall sits will add strength but should be done only after you are completely weight bearing and always make sure your knee is no further than a 90 degree angle when bent. Your physiotherapist will monitor your progress and add higher impact exercises as your knees develops more strength and natural stability.