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Exercise After Knee Replacement Surgery

Strong, flexible muscles help protect your knee. Improve your strength and increase your range of motion by doing the exercises shown here. Talk with your healthcare provider or physical therapist if doing your exercises causes new or lasting pain.

Man sitting doing quadriceps sets.

☐ Build muscle strength

Strong thigh muscles reduce the amount of force placed on your knee. This helps the joint last longer.

Quad set

  • Sit against the head of a bed. Place the leg with the new joint straight out in front of you.

  • Tighten only the front thigh (quadriceps) muscles. Then press the back of your leg toward the ground.

  • Hold for a count of 5. Repeat as directed.

Side view of seated woman doing knee bend exercise.

☐ Improve joint motion

Range-of-motion exercises help your new knee bend more smoothly. Practice flexing and extending your knee as you were taught.

Sitting knee bends

  • Sit in a chair with a towel under the new knee joint.

  • Using your leg muscles, straighten your leg. Hold for a count of 5.

  • Then bend your leg back as far as you can. Hold for a count of 5. Repeat as directed.

☐ Walk to stay in shape

  • Take a few short walks each day. Increase your walking time as you heal. This is one of the best ways to help your knee recover. Use a cane or walker if needed.

  • If you feel more pain than usual after an activity, you may have overdone it. Take it a little easier for a few hours. If the pain doesn't lessen or go away, contact your healthcare provider or physical therapist.

It's important that your healthcare provider is aware of and supports any exercise routine you have after knee replacement surgery.

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Trina Bellendir PT
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2021
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