At-Home Knee Exercises

Rapid Recovery Joint Program

Following your knee replacement surgery, continue with your exercise program at home for 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery.

Here are some recommended knee exercises to help restore:

  • Mobility
  • Range of motion
  • Strength


Ankle Pumps    Pull your foot toward you, then push your foot away from you.

Quad Sets    Press the back of your knee down into the bed by tightening the top of your thigh. Hold for 5 seconds, then release.

Hamstring Sets    With the involved leg slightly bent, dig your heel down into the bed by tightening the back of your thigh. Hold for 5 seconds, then release.

Heel Slides    Slide your foot back toward your buttocks, bending your knee and hip. Slowly lower leg to starting position. For an additional stretch, place a bedsheet around the ankle of the involved leg and pull.

Straight Leg Raises    With your unoperated knee bent, raise your operated leg up. Keep the knee straight and toes pointed up.

Short Arc Quads    Place a rolled towel under your knee to bend it about 6 inches. Raise your foot until your knee is straight. Hold for 5 seconds and then relax.

Long Arc Quads    Start with your knee relaxed and bent. Straighten your knee as far as possible. Slowly lower your leg and relax.

Sitting Heel Slides
    With a washcloth under the foot of the involved leg, pull foot back to bend knee as far as possible. Then slide foot forward, straightening knee as much as possible. For an additional stretch, place uninvolved foot on the front portion of the involved ankle and pull back.

Practice the Following

1.  Take frequent short walks without tiring yourself.  Avoid uneven surfaces when walking outside.

2.  Develop proper walking habits

  • Stand tall, keeping head up and trunk straight
  • Keep steps and timing even for both legs
  • Protect your operated leg by bearing weight through your arms as you step.
  • REMEMBER: You will use a walker or crutches until told otherwise by the physician.

3.  Take your time going up and down steps.

  • Step UP with the UNOPERATED leg first.
  • Step DOWN with the OPERATED leg first.

Report to Your Physician

  1. Any temperature elevation associated with knee pain
  2. Any change in incision area (i.e. increased redness, drainage or warmth)
  3. Any increased localized pain in the hip or groin associated with difficulty with range of motion

Upon Returning Home

  1. Continue to perform the exercises twice a day for at least 6 weeks or until your physician instructs otherwise.
  2. Exercises should be done within your pain tolerance.
  3. Progress to walking without your walker or crutches as per your physician’s orders.
  4. Progress to some sort of “advanced” exercise program (e.g., walk, bike or swim) once your physician has cleared you to do so.

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