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How To Get In and Out Of A Tub With Bad Knees

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If you or someone you love is dealing with knee pain or recovery from knee surgery, you know how difficult it can for you or them to get in and out of a bathtub. While this is a common problem, it does not have to keep you from enjoying a relaxing bath.

You just need to find the right and safe way to get in and out of a bathtub with bad knees.

The best solutions are to use a walk-in tub or a bathtub lift – but of course – not everyone has those options.

So, the next best thing is to follow a specific set of steps and to install safety equipment to help you through the steps.

But it’s important to know that you MUST also have good upper body strength to perform these steps. Otherwise, we strongly recommend that you use a bathtub lift or install a walk in tub.

Prepare The Tub

So, how do you get in and out of a bathtub with bad knees?

The first step is to make sure the bathtub area is as safe as possible with the right equipment.

1. Bathtub Grab Bars

These are grab bars that can be placed on the side of the tub and on the walls surrounding the tub.  There is also a tension rod grab bar that extends from the floor to the ceiling that may be useful as well.

2. Non Skid Bathtub Floor

You can make the floor of the bathtub less slippery by adding a bath mat or non skid stickies. There are many varieties to choose from these days.

3. Bench To Place Outside The Bathtub

This does not have to be a shower bench but that would work well. Any bench that you can safely sit on and use to transfer in and out of the bathtub.

4. Alert Device

We like to recommend to always have some type of alert device on you or within reach just in case.

Whether you choose to use a Simplisafe Panic button or an Alexa device or Life Alert or some other medical alert device that is waterproof or easily reachable from your bathtub – it does not matter. As long as you have something that you can use just in case you injure yourself.

With this equipment in place, you can then begin working your way to getting into and out of your bathtub.

If You Have Just One Bad Knee

If the problem is just one bad knee and you have enough upper body strength to help yourself then you can follow these steps.

  1. Hold on to a grab bar on your bathtub wall and step into the tub with your good leg.
  2. OR – you can sit on a bench that is placed next to the tub and swing your legs one at a time into the tub while still sitting on the bench.
  3. Place one hand on another grab bar and the other hand on the side of the tub – use your arms and your good leg to lower yourself down while you are extending your bad leg out.
  4. To get out of the tub – place your hand on the side of the tub and the other hand on a grab bar on the other side and bend your good leg. Lift yourself up by pushing up with your good leg and your arms.
  5. Either stand up or sit on the side of the tub by the bench and then move yourself over to the bench.
  6. If you are sitting on the bench then swing your legs over the tub OR if you are standing then step over the tub then use your good leg first and then your bad leg.

Some people will find that it does not matter which leg they use first so do what works best for you.

If You Have Two Bad Knees

If the problem is that you have two bad knees then this will of course be much more difficult and the steps you take will depend on how much you are able to do.

Since your legs will not be able to support you until you can stand up then you will be needing the full strength of your arms so upper body strength will be very important.

You should also have someone there to help you.

WARNING: Do Not Attempt this IF you do NOT have the upper body strength to hold yourself up or to pull yourself up.

  1. Place a bench on the side of your bathtub.
  2. While sitting on the bench swing your legs over the side of the tub until they are both in the tub. If needed, you can ask someone to help you with this.
  3. If possible, keep both legs extended.
  4. Using a grab bar or two placed around the bathtub or the edge of the bathtub, slowly move from the bench towards the bathtub using your arms to pull you.
  5. Once your body is hovering over the bathtub you can then lower yourself down into the tub, again using your arms.
  6. This is the technique used by paraplegics to get in and out of a bathtub safely.
  7. We would recommend to place a towel on the bench so that when you get out of the tub you’ll be sitting on a towel.
  8. To get out of the tub, you simply reverse the steps mentioned above.

These simple steps should make it easier for anyone with bad knees to get in and out of their bathtub.

But of course, you also need the right equipment and you need a good amount of upper body strength to accomplish the task.

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