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Health Information and Tools > Health A-Z >  When You’re Having a Knee Replacement: Exercises to Build Your Strength (Phase 1)
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When You’re Having a Knee Replacement

Exercises to Build Your Strength (Phase 1)

​Begin these exercises now, and keep doing them after surgery. Exercise is part of a successful surgery and getting back to normal, everyday living.

Do them on both legs so both legs are strong. Do all exercises slowly and with control. Repeat each exercise at least 5 times. You can increase the number of times as long as it doesn’t hurt too much.

Exercise #1: Armchair push-ups

 
  1. Sit on a steady chair, with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Push up with both arms to lift yourself a few inches off the seat.
  3. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  4. Slowly lower yourself onto the chair.
  5. Repeat.

Exercise #2: Core stability

 
 
  1. Lie or sit with your back supported, bend both knees and keep your feet flat.
  2. Tighten your lower stomach muscles by pulling your bellybutton down towards your spine.
  3. Squeeze the pelvic muscles that stop the flow of pee. (Ask your physiotherapist to explain.)
  4. Breathe normally while holding for a count of 3 to 5.
  5. Relax and repeat.

Exercise #3: Simple thigh squeezes

 
  1. Lie down on a bed or the floor.
  2. Keep the kneecap and toes facing the ceiling.
  3. Pull your toes up toward your head.
  4. Tighten the muscles in the front of the thigh and push the back of your knee into the bed.
  5. Relax.
  6. Repeat.

Exercise #4: Harder thigh squeezes

 
  1. Lie down on a bed or the floor.
  2. Place a firm roll under your knee.
  3. Straighten your leg, lifting your foot off the bed.
  4. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  5. Slowly lower your leg.
  6. Repeat.

Exercise #5: Thigh lifts

 

(Note: Do this exercise only when you can do Exercise 4)

  1. Lie down on a bed or the floor.
  2. With one knee in a comfortable position, tighten your thigh muscles and lift your other leg keeping the knee straight.
  3. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  4. Slowly lower your leg to the bed.
  5. Repeat.

Exercise #6: Knee straightening

 
  1. Lie down on a bed or the floor.
  2. Keep the kneecap and toes facing the ceiling.
  3. Place a small roll under one ankle and push the knee down toward the bed.
  4. Hold for a count of 30.
  5. Relax.
  6. Repeat.

Exercise #7: Knee bend

 
  1. Bend your knee by sliding your heel along bed toward your buttocks (backside).
  2. Make sure your knees face the ceiling.
  3. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  4. Slowly straighten your knee by sliding your heel back to your starting position.
  5. Repeat.

Exercise #8: Sitting-knee bends

 
  1. Sit on a steady chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Slowly slide your foot back as far as you can.
  3. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  4. Slowly slide your foot back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat.

Exercise #9: Sitting-knee straightening

 
  1. Sit on a steady chair with your thigh supported.
  2. Lift your foot and straighten your knee.
  3. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  4. Slowly lower your foot to the floor.
  5. Repeat.

When doing these exercises, stand straight, tuck in your stomach, and tighten your buttocks.

Exercise #10: Standing knee bends

 
  1. Hold on to a table or counter for support.
  2. Slowly bend your knee by lifting your heel towards your buttocks.
  3. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  4. Slowly lower your foot to the floor.
  5. Repeat.

Exercise #11: Standing knee lift

 
  1. Hold on to a table or counter for support.
  2. Lift your knee, as if you were going up a step.
  3. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  4. Slowly lower your foot to the floor.
  5. Repeat.

Exercise #12: Mini knee bends

 
  1. Hold on to a table or counter for support.
  2. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed forward.
  3. Keeping your weight on your heels, slowly bend your knees, keeping your heels on the floor and your knees apart. Don’t bend the tips of your knees past your toes at the bottom of the bend.
  4. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  5. Slowly return to your starting position.
  6. Repeat.
​​

Current as of: May 6, 2019

Author: Bone and Joint Health Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services