Rehab Exercises after Total Knee Replacement

Once you return home after a total knee replacement (TKR), you will need to perform certain exercises to prevent complications, improve motion of the knee, and build strength. Most people have weak leg muscles before surgery because they were not used much due to knee problems. Now that surgery has corrected this knee problem, you will need to have a regular exercise regimen.

Exercise Program

A regular exercise program is used to strengthen weak leg muscles. Your success with rehabilitation relies on your willingness to follow the exercise program developed by your physical therapist. You should perform these exercises 2-3 times each day after surgery. Each exercise must be done 10 times, starting out, and you gradually increase the repetitions by 5 times each week until you reach 20 repetitions. Your schedule will be:

  • Week 1 – 10 repetitions
  • Week 2 – 15 repetitions
  • Week 3 – 20 repetitionsheel-slides

Ankle Pumps and Circles

  • Bend both ankles up, pulling toes toward you.
  • Bend both ankles down, pointing toes away from you.
  • Rotate each foot clockwise and then counterclockwise while keeping toes pointed to the ceiling.

Heel Slides (Knee and Hip Flexion)

  • Bend the hip and knee by sliding the heel up toward buttocks while keeping the heel on the bed.
  • Slide heel back down again while keeping kneecap pointed at the ceiling.
  • Repeat with opposite leg.

Thigh Squeezes (Quadriceps Sets)

  • Tighten muscles at the front of the thigh by pushing the back of your knee down on the bed.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, then relax.
  • Repeat with opposite leg.

Leg Slides (Abduction/Adduction)

  • Slide leg out to the side while keeping kneecap pointed toward ceiling.
  • Slide leg back to the starting position.
  • Repeat with opposite leg.

Lying Kicks (Short Arc Quadriceps)

  • Lie on back with a rolled blanket under your knee.
  • Straighten knee and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Lower leg down slowly and relax.
  • Keep back of knee in contact with blanket.
  • Repeat with opposite leg.

Straight Leg Raises

  • b7a636bc5a5da7a0eafbb497fb8cac4eBend leg with foot flat on the bed.
  • Raise opposite leg up 12 inches with knee straight.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Slowly lower leg and relax.
  • Repeat with other leg.

Knee Bending (Sitting Knee Flexion)

  • Sit on a chair.
  • Bend knee back as much as you can and hold for 10 seconds.
  • Return to starting position and relax.
  • Repeat with other leg.

Sitting Kicks (Long Arc Quads)

  • Sit on a chair.
  • Lift foot and straighten knee as much as possible.
  • Keep knee level as if you are holding a tray on your lap.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Lower leg down slowly and relax.
  • Repeat with other leg.

Prolonged Knee Stretch

  • Sit on a chair.
  • Bend knee back as much as possible.
  • Scoot your body forward to increase the stretch.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Knee Straightening Stretch

  • Sit on a chair with your heel up on a footstool or chair in front of you.
  • Hold this for 30-60 seconds.
  • Repeat with other leg.

Knee Dangling/Swinging

  • Sit on a high chair or bed so that feet don’t touch floor.IMG_5017
  • Bend knees and swing surgical leg back and forth.
  • Do this for 2-3 minutes.

Heel Digs (Hamstring Sets)

  • Bend surgical knee.
  • Tighten muscle at back of thigh by digging heel into the bed.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat with other leg.

Buttock Squeezes (Gluteal Sets)

  • Tighten buttock muscles by squeezing.
  • Hold for 5 seconds and relax.

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