Resuming Sports After Total Knee Replacement

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Total knee replacement has become a very common procedure for the treatment of knee arthritis. This surgery is generally safe and when properly performed provides predictable and durable results. If you are considering total knee replacement, we will discuss with you the possibility of participating in physical and recreational activities, including sports following surgery. As we counsel our patients, we have found that older patients undergoing total knee replacement surgery are more active than in the past, and surgery is being performed in younger, more active patients. These factors lead to the question: “Can I resume my active lifestyle after knee replacement?”

It is important to set expectations prior to surgery, since the type of sport and level of activity will impact longevity of your TKA.

Why is there a concern

Total knee replacement involves a mechanical device, and the forces applied to the implant are much higher during sports and recreational activities than during regular daily activities. These forces could cause wear on the plastic surface, loosening of the implant, and osteolysis, where the bone starts to resorb around the implant. Implant designs and materials have improved over the last 40 years, and clinical studies have revealed many patients returning to an active lifestyle. It is important that you discuss with us your expectations following surgery, so that we can advise you as to what activities are best for you.

Knowing your expectations

Having knee replacement surgery doesn’t mean you can participate in strenuous sports that you did not do before surgery. The sports you are likely to participate in after surgery are those you played prior to surgery. Your ability to return to playing sports will also be affected by your general health. The beneficial effects of physical activity on your general health and well-being are undeniable. With athletic activity, expect better cardiovascular health, muscular strength, endurance, balance, coordination and personal satisfaction.


  • Low-impact activities and sports are fine
  • Intermediate-impact sports are recommended if you have prior experience, but shouldn’t be taken up if you haven’t tried them before
  • We do not recommend participating in high-impact sports