Relearning to Walk

One of the most challenging parts of knee replacement surgery was relearning to walk. 

After knee replacement surgery, the doctors want you up and walking as soon as possible. So I thought it couldn’t be too bad if the doctors want you moving so quickly – It was only knee replacement surgery! But when the time came for me to start walking, it was a completely different experience… My whole body felt disconnected, and the intense pain lasted longer than what was “normal”!

One day, the pain got so bad, in my calf, that I went to the emergency room by ambulance. Luckily, we ruled out blood clots with a Doppler ultrasound so it was not life-threatening. At my post-surgery physiotherapy rehab assessment, the therapist thought I might have varicose veins. Then I felt a “clunk” in my knee at around 4-weeks. The pain persisted and grew more intense. Even now after 3 months post-surgery, I still go through waves of intense pain!

My brain and my legs were not communicating. This made bearing weight on my surgery leg difficult. My brain had put on an alert signal, and was restricting me from bearing weight in my foot because of all the pain I was experiencing. The physiotherapist understood this. She showed me how to walk in a way that would help reprogram my brain.

Heel, Toe, Step. Heel, Toe, Step.

I left the office repeating this like a new mantra. I had to come to terms with the fact that I had to relearn how to walk. I wasn’t just going to get up and walk again. I really had to pay attention to my movements and relearn how to walk… Heel, Toe, Step. It would be a process that would involve many treatments and therapies to help me recover and heal.

Losing that connection, with my very basic instinct of walking, was disconcerting. However, with some rhythm in my brain, it helps me get my feet get moving and I am regaining my gait. 

4 thoughts on “Relearning to Walk”

    1. Thanks for reaching out Rachel. Some people fly through recovery with no issues, but many, like me, do not. I feel that it is important to share so maybe my journey can be helpful.
      Are you planning to have knee surgery? You can reach me at to let me know.

  1. Hi Heather:

    I saw your post on Instagram and it is wonderful to see you walk. I am glad to hear that things are improving for you. Keep it up. Thinking of you.


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