You may be tempted to take it easy after a knee replacement surgery and avoid moving the operated knee, but the truth is the sooner you get moving after surgery, the quicker you will heal and the better you will feel!
Performing physical therapy rehabilitation exercises plays a key role in helping you regain range of motion and function in your knee. The following exercises will help minimize the formation of scar tissue allowing return to routine activities as soon as possible:
Ankle Pumps: While lying on your back with your legs straight, gently move your feet back and forth in a pumping motion. Try to maximize your range of motion and do about 20-30 repetitions 3 to 4 times a day. This is one of the easiest and most important exercises you can do after undergoing knee replacement surgery. It helps decrease swelling and improves blood circulation to prevent the formation of blood clots.
Quad Sets: While lying on your back with your legs straight, contract your front thigh muscles (quadriceps). Hold the contraction for 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat this movement about 10 times. Do this exercise about 2-3 times a day. Alternatively you can place a rolled towel under your knee and perform the same exercise but focus on pushing your knee down into the towel (see image below). Quad sets help get the quadriceps (one of the biggest muscles of your body) firing again after surgery.
Short Arc Quads: Lie on your back with a pillow or rolled up towel under your knee. Slowly straighten your leg by contracting your quadriceps and lifting your heel off the bed. The back of your knee must remain in contact in the pillow or towel. Only your lower leg moves through a “short arc” of motion while performing this movement. Do 10 repetitions 2-3 times a day.
Heel Slides: While lying on your back, slowly bend your knee by sliding your heel toward your buttocks. Do 10 repetitions 2-3 times a day. This exercise strengthens the muscles at the back of your thigh which helps stabilize your knee.
Seated Knee Extension (Hamstring stretch): While sitting on a chair, extend your knee to straighten your leg as far as possible. Alternatively, place your leg straight on the bed with your opposite foot on the floor. Keeping your knee straight and your toes pointed up, slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the knee/thigh. Remember to keep your back straight and do not touch your chin…no bouncing. Hold for 30 seconds. Do 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions every day.
You may be recommended other rehab exercises as well depending on your individual condition. Remember to keep your follow-up appointments with so we can evaluate your progress and ensure you are recovering well after your knee replacement surgery.