exercises for a total knee replacement

Best Exercises for a Total Knee Replacement

Regular exercise to improve the strength and mobility of your knee and a gradual return to daily activities is important for your total recovery after total knee replacement.

Your orthopedic surgeon and physiotherapist may recommend you exercise for 30 to 40 minutes daily, or also 2 to 3 times daily. You should allow to walk for 10 to 30 minutes 2 to 3 times daily during Your early recovery. Your Physiotherapist will suggest some of the exercises shown below.

This guide can help you understand your exercise and activity schedule, you must be supervised by Physiotherapists and orthopedic surgeons to ensure your safe recovery. Be sure to check with your physiotherapist or Doctor before starting any of the exercises Shown.

Early post-operative exercise.

The following exercises may help increase circulation to your legs and foot, which is important for preventing blood clots. This exercise will also help strengthen your muscles and increase knee movement.

Start the exercises as soon as you can. You can begin them immediately when your surgeons allow doing exercise when you will feel comfortable but these exercises will help you to speed up your recovery and actually diminish Your post-operative pain.

Ankle pumps (ankle toe movement)

This exercise is done immediately after the operation of knee replacement.

this is a very effective and easy exercise to perform and also very helpful to circulate the blood.

How to do ATM?

To do this exercise, you should start by lying on your back with both legs straight forward.

Now move your Ankle up and down rhythmically by contracting your shin and calf muscles (As shown in the video)

Perform this exercise 2 to 3 times. You can also do it 2 to 3 times in the recovery room.

This is a very easy exercise so you can do it by doing other work like watching television.

Continue this exercise until you will not get complete recovery of your knees.

Static quadriceps exercise :

This is an important exercise that helps to maintain or improve the strength of quadricep muscles and require to perform daily after knee replacement.

How to do SQE?

To do static quadriceps exercise, lying down in your bed, with both legs straight in front of you

Quadriceps isometric SQE
Quadriceps isometric SQE

Now, places a small pillow under the knees and tighten your thigh muscles. Try to make Straight your knees.

Hold for 5 to 10 seconds

Repeat this exercise approximately 10 times during a two minutes period, rest for one minute, and then continue the exercise until your thigh feels tired.

Straight leg raise :

Straight leg raising (SLR)
Straight leg raising (SLR)

This is also a very helpful exercise to recover knees after total knee replacement.

This is also performed in a lying position. First of all, tighten your thigh muscles and try to make your knees fully Straighten on the bed.

Lift your leg for some height and Hold it for 5 to 10 seconds. Now slowly put it down and repeat this exercise until your thigh feels tired

This exercise should take 3 to 4 minutes.

You can perform leg raises while sitting also.

Bed-supported knee bend :

This exercise will perform also be in a lying position.

Try to bend your knee and slide it towards your hip. Notice one thing keep your heel in the contact with the bed.
hold your knee for 5 to 10 seconds.
Then gradually Unbend your leg.
Repeat it many times until your leg feels tired.
This exercise should take two to three minutes.

Short Arc Quads (VMO exercise)

Short arc quadriceps exercise
Short arc quadriceps exercise

Short arc quads are also important exercises to strengthen your Vastus medialis muscles. It is also called the VMO exercise.
To do this exercise Lie on your back on your bed with a rolled towel placed under your knee. Gradually straighten your affected knee by lifting your foot up while placing your thigh firmly on the roll.

Repeat 10-12 times (1 set) and gradually increases repetitions.
Do 2-3 sets daily.

Assistant Knee Bends:

Firstly, sleep on your bed and take a folded towel, put it on your operated knee, and drop the towel to your feet.
Try to bend your knee with the normal pressure through the towel to increase the bend.
Hold it for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat it until you will feels tired.
This exercise will take 2 to 3 minutes.

Knee Extension (Quadriceps Strengthening) :

Knee extension
Knee extension

This is an important exercise to strengthen the quadriceps muscles.

This exercise will perform in settings, position in bed or chair.

You should be in a comfortable position.

In this exercise, we have to repeat the above exercise without any support.

We have to bend the knee as much as the patient can and open it more as possible.

Ask the patient to hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds after that bend the knee.

Sitting knee flexion
Sitting knee flexion

Repeat it as all exercises. It means until you feel tired.

This exercise will take approximately three minutes.

Sitting Knee Flexion

This exercise helps to improve the Knee’s range of motion.

To do this exercise Sit on a bed or chair with a towel under your affected legs. Your feet are placed on the floor. Gradually slide one foot back, bending your knee as you can. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then take your foot forward.

Repeat 10-15 times and gradually increase repetitions.
Do it 2-3 times a day.

Early activity:

After some time of your surgery, you should walk for some distance like you have to walk in your hospital room and try to perform your daily activities by yourself. This early activity helps you to get the recovery and strengthen your muscles as soon as possible.

Walking :

Walking Exercise
Walking Exercise

Walking is the proper way to make your knee recover as soon as possible. At the starting stage, you will have to walk with a walker or crutches. Your physiotherapist and surgeon will tell you how much weight will you have to put on your leg.

First of all, you have to stand comfortably and straight with your body weight.

Try to make proper balance with a walker or crutches.

Make sure that your walker or crutches are within a short distance of you. Then start walking forward with your operated Leg with your knee straight so that your heel touches the floor.

as you are moving forward, your knee and ankle will bend and your entire leg rest on the floor.

After completing the step notice that your toe will lift off the floor and your knee and hip will bend so that you can move forward for your next step.

Walk slowly and rhythmically as you can don’t try to walk fast and adjust the length of your step and walking speed as necessary to move forward with an even pattern.

As per your walking your muscle strength and endurance improve. You will have to spend more time walking and gradually you have to put more weight on your operated leg.

Daily 10-minute walking can increase your walking capacity and help you to get back your strength. Yaar to notice that you walking in a proper pattern with the walker and crutches in your initial stage.

You can also use a single crutch and hold it. Indha opposite hand of your surgery side.

Stair climbing and descending :

Stair climbing will give excellent strength to the leg and also helps to improve endurance and flexibility.

Yeah, at the initial stage, you will have to take support from the handrail to climb the step.

And you have to take care of that you are only taking one step at a time.

Always put your Good knee at the time of climbing stairs and yet the time of descending stairs, you will have to put your operated knee.

You can also use a crutch at the time of climbing the stairs or at the time of descending it.

Through this exercise, your leg becomes stronger and more mobile.

Advanced exercises and activities :

Once you will get the independence to move for a short distance and a few steps, you can increase your activity. You have before the surgery and you will have pain and swelling after surgery has weakened your knee. A full recovery of the leg will take some months. The exercises and activities which is given below. Will help you to recover fully.

Standing knee bends with resistance:

Standing knee flexion
Standing knee flexion

This is an advanced exercise you can start after 15 days(2 weeks) of exercise. This exercise strengthens your Hamstring muscles which are located on the Back of the thigh.

  • Use an ankle weight cuff around your affected lower leg.
  • Start in a standing position with your hands supported on a counter or wall. Slowly bend your knee towards your buttocks so that your heel comes closer to your buttocks.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Then gradually lower the leg
  • Perform 10-12 repetitions.
  • Gradually increase repetitions as you improve.
  • Perform 2 to 3 times daily.

Knee exercises with resistance :

Knee Strenghthning
Knee Strengthening

You can use lightweight, sandbags for resistance exercise, place the lightweight sandbag around the ankle, and repeat any of the above exercises.

You can do resistance exercises after 4 to 6 weeks of surgery.

You can use 500 grams at the initial stage and after you can gradually increase the weight as your strength increases.

Standing Heel Raises

heel raise
heel raise

This exercise strengthens your calf muscles and also improves your Balance.

  • To do this exercise, you have to Stand with the support of a wall or a chair.
  • Then, gradually you have to let the heels up towards the roof.
  • Then you hold for a few seconds and then gradually lower.
  • Keep in control with moves as well as go all the way on toes.
  • Do this 10 to 12 times in one session.
  • Perform 2 to 3 sessions in a day.

Cycling :


Cycling is the best exercise to regain, muscle strength and endurance with the full range of motion.

At the starting stage adjust the seat height as per your knee bending capacity.
Pedal at the backside in starting.
Move forward only after a comfortable position as your capacity.
You can slowly increase the tension of the bicycle after 4 to 6 weeks when your knee strengthens.
You can do it for 10 to 15 minutes, two times per day, gradually increase to 20 to 30 minutes, and 3 to 4 times a week.

Pain or swelling after exercise:

You can see knee pain and swelling after your exercise session. You can decrease the swelling by elevating your leg and applying an ice pack over there. You can apply ice for 20 minutes 2 to 3 times, It will give you better results.

Regular exercises and mobility can improve your muscle strength and endurance.

This is all about post-operative total knee replacement exercises if you have any type of query so you can write it down.


  1. What is the best exercise after knee replacement?

    Following are the few Best exercise you can do at home immediately after Knee replacement surgery such as Static quadriceps exercise(SQE), Straight leg raising (SLR), Ankle toe movement(ATM), Bed-supported knee bending exercise, and walking.

  2. Can you run again after total knee replacement?

    Yes, you can Run after Total Knee Replacement but you have to take exercise sessions before that and you also have done the gait training, which helps you to make a movement like before during running.

  3. What exercises should be avoided after knee replacement?

    You should avoid full knee bending activity like squatting, after the total knee replacement and also you have to avoid jerky movements because total knee replacement can have some limitations.

  4. How long do you need to do exercises after total knee replacement?

    You need to do exercises for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks after the Total Knee Replacement. which really helps to recover your surrounding knee muscles and increase muscle strength.

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