Regular exercise to restore strength and mobility to the knee and a gradual return to everyday activities are important for a complete recovery post knee replacement. Do the following exercises to strengthen your muscles.
How often– 2 times a day Do 10 repetitions of each exercise. If you are comfortable with the exercises, gradually increase the number of repetitions until you reach 20 repetitions.
Early Post-Operative Exercises
- Ankle pumps and circles-Pump your feet up and down by pulling your feet up toward you, then pushing your feet down away from you. Also, rotate your feet clockwise and counterclockwise. Ankle pumps should also be done 10 times every hour while you are awake.
- Quadriceps Set– Tighten your thigh muscle. Try to straighten your knee. Contract your quad muscles by focusing on pushing the knee joint firmly onto the surface of the bed, and hold the position for 5 seconds. Repeat this exercise approximately 10 times for two minutes, rest for one minute, and then repeat. Continue until your thigh feels fatigued.
- Static hamstrings– Lie straight on your back. Place a small towel roll below the heel. Press the heel down on the towel and hold for a period of 10seconds. You can feel the back of your thigh (hamstring) contracting. Repeat this exercise 10times.
- Heel Slides– These are simple knee range of motion exercises that help to strengthen and stretch tissues and muscles of the knee joint. Lie straight on your back and slide your heel till your buttock. In the early phase of rehabilitation, a range of 0-90 degrees can be achieved as per the patient tolerance. Repeat 10times
- Straight Leg Raise (SLR)– Lie on your back. Contract your thigh muscle with your knee fully extended (straight), and lift the leg up few inches above. Slowly lower the leg so that the heel touches the floor before your knee does(This will help the quadriceps muscle remain active during the entire lowering of the leg). Hold for 5-10seconds as per tolerance. Repeat the exercise with a hold.
- Hip Abduction– Slide your surgical leg out to the side, keeping your kneecap pointed up toward the ceiling. Slide your leg back to the starting position. You may want to use a plastic bag under your heel to help it slide easier.
- Short-Arc Quadriceps– Lie on your back with a rolled-up blanket or towel (at least 6 inches in diameter) under the knee of your surgical leg. Straighten your surgical leg. Work up to holding for 5 seconds. Slowly lower your leg down and relax. The back of your knee should stay in contact with the blanket or towel during the exercise.
- Dynamic Quadriceps– Sit on a firm surface with your chest up and low back slightly arched. Tighten the muscle on the front of your thigh (quadriceps) to straighten your operated knee. Feel the stretch behind the thigh and knee. Lower your leg slowly. Repeat 10times.