Knee injuries such as a torn meniscus can cause knee pain and affect your ability to exercise. Depending on the severity of the tear, your doctor may advise surgery. However, according to Jeffrey Katz, joint specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, physical-therapy exercises can be just as effective as surgery in treating a torn meniscus. As part of a well-rounded rehab program, water aerobics can help strengthen the muscles around your knee to aid in the healing process while being very low-impact.
Water aerobics decreases weight-bearing stress on your knee, so you can perform exercises that you may not be able to do on land. The buoyancy of the water makes for a low-impact exercise, which improves knee range of motion and decreases pain. Wearing a buoyancy belt is useful in deep water. It will help keep you afloat and to perform exercises without touching the pool's bottom.
Water aerobics will strengthen the muscles around your knee joint. Strong quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles help support the joint and improve overall leg function, according to HealthLinkBC. Strengthening exercises in the pool include calf raises, progressive mini-squats, walking, lateral steps and hip range of motion exercises. Aim to do water aerobic exercises two or three times per week as part of your regular fitness schedule.
Water aerobics is a full-body conditioning workout that targets the lower body, upper body, core and cardiovascular system. Staying in good overall condition while rehabbing a torn meniscus will improve your ability to move around easier. This will include things like standing up from chairs and taking the stairs. Pool exercises increase your heart rate for improved heart health, and burn off calories for weight-loss or weight-management. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to decreasing the amount of stress on your knees.
A comprehensive rehabilitation program for a torn meniscus should include strengthening exercises, stretching and balance training. Water aerobics includes all of these components and can be particularly effective in the early stages of recovery, when you are limited in what you can do on dry land due to pain or poor range of motion. Transitioning to exercises out of the pool is essential when you gain knee range and have decreased pain.
- CBSNews: Torn Meniscus Treatments: Physical Therapy Just As Good As Surgery, Says Study
- Physio Room.com: Torn Cartilage Knee Injury In Depth: AKA Meniscus Tear
- UW Health Sports Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation Guidelines For Meniscal Repair
- HealthLinkBC: Actionset: Meniscus Tear: Rehabilitation Exercises
- The University Of Arizona: Proud Parent: Parent And Family Programs: Health Benefits Of Aquatic Exercise
Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.