Paddling after knee replacement

Hello, I’m gonna get my knees replaced and would appreciate hearing about your experience with canoeing (kneeling) and kayaking (legs out in front against a foot brace) after total knee replacement.

Thank you!

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I’ll be watching this thread. I’m having TKR in a couple of weeks. I canoe and don’t usually kneel, so my concern how long will it be before I can load my canoe.

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I had a total knee replacement, right knee, 18 months ago. I’ve had a stellar recovery, which I attribute to my surgeon’s skill and his using robotic assist with Stryker/Mako Triathlon. And very important, he did not use a tourniquet. A tourniquet makes it easier for the surgeon, but adds pain and time to the patient’s recovery.

I had 2.5 weeks of at-home physical therapy, but didn’t need out-patient PT.

Some doctors will say you should never kneel, but mine says kneeling is fine, and it is. I paddle Hornbeck and PBW pack canoes, so I don’t kneel in those, but I don’t think it would be a problem. My canoes have foot braces; no problem at all with those.

My doctor told me I could use my solo canoe and my bicycle at 6-8 weeks. At exactly 6 weeks, I was back in my Hornbeck 11 ft canoe, with some modification of how I got in and out. By 8 weeks, I had no trouble at all getting in and out of my canoe my normal way. Paddling, of course, was no problem.

I rode my Brompton folding bike on a paved bike trail at 7 weeks post-op, starting with about 15 minutes at a time. I lowered the seat to get more flexion.

Now 18 months post-op, my new knee feels just like a knee. I couldn’t be happier with the results.

I hope this helps. There are some Facebook support groups for TKR, but keep in mind the people most likely to look for support are those who aren’t doing well, and some of the stories can scare the heck out of you.


That’s very encouraging, thanks.

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I had both knees replaced over last year. I paddle a Northstar Rob Roy with the new comfort seat installed. Paddling right away was no problem. getting in and out is, but that may be all age related. The mythology is that you can never kneel again. That has not been the case here. I have a pair of strap-on industrial knee pads that let me kneel at will. Even brief kneels w/o the pads are tolerable but I haven’t pushed that limit yet. Take it easy and if it hurts stop. The advantages of new knees outweigh the minor inconveniences.


I had my knee replaced Jan 23. I was doing long (150 miles over 2 days, for instance) bike rides by May. I never really like the confinement of my legs in a kayak before knee replacement, and with the difficulty increase after surgery, I decided on a pack canoe. Now my legs are free and I feel better. I did raise seat off te floor a bit for comfort
As for kneeling, I do it as needed, but in my case the nerves in the outside have not come back, so kneeling is fine, it just feels alien to me don’t know how it would be in canoe
Only advice - do the excercizes you get in PT with diligence before and after surgery. And get a sports massage on the surgery leg a few times a week after surgery on top of the PT

I have a friend who had both knees replaced, and she cannot kneel at all. She has been able to use a sit-on-top kayak as it is too hard for her to exit a sit-in kayak.