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Knee replacement: Phase 2 exercises after surgery

Knee Replacement

Phase 2 exercises after surgery

Generally, you will begin doing phase 2 exercises 6 weeks after surgery, after you have seen your surgeon or physiotherapist. This allows for normal healing after surgery.

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

It is important to do these exercises on your surgical leg. If you are able, you can do the exercises on both legs. Do them slowly and with control. Make sure not to force your new knee into a position that causes you pain or discomfort.

Exercise 1: Lying on stomach knee bend

person lying on stomach bending knee towards buttocks

  1. Lie on your stomach, with your legs straight.
  2. Bend 1 leg, lifting the heel toward your buttocks (bum).
  3. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position.
  4. Repeat at least 5 times.

Exercise 2: Lying on stomach knee stretch

person lying on stomach bending both knees towards buttocks

  1. Lie on your stomach and bend both legs up toward your buttocks.
  2. Cross 1 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 at least 5 times.

Exercise 3: Sitting knee stretch

person sitting with back against wall with looped towel around ankle, pulling heel toward buttocks

  1. Sit with 1 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 at least 5 times.

Exercise 4: Knee straightening with band

person sitting with elastic band around ankles, straightening one leg at a time

  1. Sit in a steady chair and put an elastic band around both ankles.
  2. Lifting 1 foot, straighten your leg while keeping the other foot on the floor as you stretch the elastic.
  3. Slowly lower your foot back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat at least 5 times.

Exercise 5: Knee bending with band

person sitting with elastic band around ankles, pulling one leg back under chair

  1. Sitting in a steady chair, put an elastic band around both ankles.
  2. Put 1 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 at least 5 times.

Exercise 6: Sit to stand

person sitting on chair moving to standing position

Use a chair with armrests if you need to use your arms 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 at least 5 times.

Exercise 7: Straightening knee with band
person standing with elastic band around 1 thigh while straightening same knee

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

Exercise 8: Step up, step down

person standing, stepping forward and up onto step

  1. Place a solid object 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) 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 at least 5 times.

Exercise 9: Split squat

person standing doing split squat

  1. Hold on to a table or counter for balance and move 1 leg forward.
  2. Put your weight evenly on both legs and bend your knees towards the ground. 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 at least 5 times.

Exercise 10: Calf stretch

person with hands up against wall, leaning with one leg forward to stretch calf

  1. Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall.
  2. Move 1 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 at least 5 times.

To see this information online and learn more, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca/health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=custom.ab_kneereplacement_phase2_exercise_inst.

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For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: August 28, 2023

Author: Bone and Joint Health SCN, Alberta Health Services

This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.