After a total knee replacement (TKR), you will be prescribed exercises to start gaining range of motion and strength.
It’s important to begin safe exercise as soon as possible for best outcomes after surgery! We’ve put together a list of the best exercises after a knee replacement that you can start early in your recovery with the guidance of your physical therapist.
Watch the post-TKR exercise video playlist included at the bottom of this blog for more information on how to perform these exercises correctly.
- Sit to Stand
Sit on a stable chair with both feet firmly on the floor. You can use a chair with armrests to make this exercise easier, or raise your arms out in front of you so that they are parallel to the floor to make this exercise more of a challenge as you get stronger. Lean forward, hinging at the hips, and rise up to standing position. Make sure you don’t lock your knees while standing or allow your knees to cave inward toward each other. Slowly lower yourself back down to the chair, then repeat.
- Static Quad Set
Lie on your back with your legs stretched out, toes pointing upward, and a pillow beneath the affected knee. Slowly squeeze the muscles surrounding your knee (your quadriceps) to straighten it. Another cue that often helps is to imagine you are trying to squish the pillow down onto the table by pressing the back of your knee down onto it. Maintain the contraction for 10-30 seconds, release, then repeat.
- Supine Heel Slide
Lie on your back with your legs stretched out, toes pointing upward, and heels on the floor. While engaging your buttocks and core, slowly slide one heel towards your buttocks, bending at the knee. Slide your heel forward again, straightening your knee, as your leg returns to the starting position, then repeat.
- Supine Short Arc Quad (knee extension)
Place a pillow or bolster under your affected thigh. Lie on your back with your legs stretched out, toes pointing upward, heels on the floor, and your affected knee slightly bent over the pillow or bolster. Straighten your affected knee, lifting the heel off the floor. Hold for a moment once your leg is fully extended, then slowly lower your heel back to the starting position. Make sure your toes point upward throughout the entire movement and that you engage your core and buttocks. To protect your low back, you can bend the opposite leg for added support during this exercise.
- Seated Long Arc Quad (knee extension)
Sitting in a chair with your feet on the floor, slowly extend your knee so your lower leg is raised and straight out in front of you. Hold for a moment, then lower your foot to the ground with control and repeat. You can use your arms to support yourself, but remember to engage your core throughout the entire movement.
For video demonstration of exercises after a knee replacement, visit our youtube playlist!