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When You’re Having a Knee Replacement

Exercises to Improve Your Recovery After Surgery (Phase 2)

​​Start these exercises after you have seen your surgeon or physiotherapist.

Exercise is important after surgery to make your new knee stronger and more flexible and to help prevent blood clots. The exercises may feel uncomfortable at first, but exercising will help you to get back to your normal everyday activities sooner.

Your healthcare team may suggest you add some or all of the exercises below to the ones you were doing before surgery.

Remember to slowly increase the number of times you exercise each day, how often you repeat each exercise, and the amount of pressure you can put on your new knee.

Your team will tell how often to do the exercises, how many times to repeat each one, and how much force or pressure you can put on your new knee

Do the exercises on both legs to make them equally strong and flexible. Do them slowly and w​ith control. Make sure not to force your new knee into a position that causes you pain or discomfort.

Exercise #1: Knee straightening with band

 
  1. Sit in a steady chair and put the elastic loop around both ankles.
  2. Lifting one foot, straighten your leg while keeping the other foot on the floor as you stretch the elastic loop.
  3. Slowly lower your foot back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat.

Exercise #2: Knee bending with band

 
  1. Sitting in a steady chair, put the elastic around ​both ankles.
  2. Put one foot on a stool and pull the opposite foot back under the chair, stretching the elastic. Keep the other foot steady as you stretch the elastic.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat.

Exercise #3: Sit to stand

 
  • Use a chair with armrests if you need to use your arms ​at first while you build up strength in your legs. Use a pillow to raise the seat level if it is too low.
  1. Sit on the front edge of a steady chair with your knees shoulder width apart.
  2. ​Make sure your knees are lined up with your feet.
  3. Slowly raise and lower yourself from the chair without using your arms.
  4. Put equal pressure on your legs. Don’t lean forward at the waist.
  5. Repeat.

Exercise #4: Lying on stomach knee bend

 
  1. Lie on your stomach, with your legs straight.
  2. Bend one leg, lifting the heel toward your buttocks.
  3. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position.
  4. Repeat.

Exercise #5: Lying on stomach knee stretch

 
  1. Lie on your stomach and bend both legs up toward your buttocks.
  2. Cross one leg behind the other at the ankle.
  3. Use the heel on the outside leg to gently push the inside leg toward your buttocks.
  4. Hold for a count of 15.
  5. Release and repeat.

Exercise #6: Sitting knee stretch

 
  1. Sit with one leg bent and loop a towel around the ankle.
  2. Using the towel, gently pull the heel toward your buttocks.
  3. Hold for a count of 15.
  4. Release and repeat.

Exercise #7: Straightening knee with band

 
  1. Place one end of an elastic loop around a secure object and the other end around one thigh, keeping the knee bent slightly.
  2. Hold on to a table or other steady object.
  3. Slowly straighten the leg to stretch the elastic loop, keeping your heel on the floor.
  4. Return slowly to the starting position.
  5. Repeat.

Exercise #8: Step up, step down

 
  1. Place a solid object 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in.​) thick on the floor to use as a step.
  2. Hold on to a table or counter for balance, and step forward and up onto the object.
  3. Slowly step back down.
  4. Repeat.

Exercise #9: Split squat lunge

 
  1. Hold on to a table or counter for balance and move one leg forward.
  2. Bend the forward leg and lean your upper body over the bent knee.
  3. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  4. Slowly relax and return to a standing position.
  5. Repeat.

Exercise #10: Calf stretch

 
  1. Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall.
  2. Move one leg forward and bend it while keeping the other leg straight.
  3. Slowly lean your hips toward the wall, until you feel a ​stretch in the back of the straight leg.
  4. Hold for a count of 3 to 5.
  5. Slowly relax the stretch.
  6. Repeat.
​​

Current as of: May 6, 2019

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