Post-knee replacement exercises

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After undergoing a serious operation such as a total knee replacement or partial replacement, your first thoughts turn to your recovery and being back on your feet as soon as possible. Below are some exercises that will ease you back into your everyday routine.

Initial exercises

You have not long come out of the operating theatre and you’re already feeling a little bit stiff and delicate. The sooner you feel like you can start light exercises, the better.

1. Lie on your back with your legs straight. Bend and straighten your ankles so they are pointing up at the ceiling and then return to their natural position. Repeat 20 times.
2. Try some straight legs raises. Keep your legs straight as you raise them slightly, holding for 5-10 seconds, strengthening your thigh muscles.
3. Still lying on your back bend and straighten your knee. Repeat 10-20 times. This may be stiff or a bit painful, to begin with, but it will not harm your knee replacement. This prevents stiffness and the risk of blood clots.
4. Place a towel under your ankle and straighten out your knee, holding for five seconds. Repeat 10 times. This will strengthen the knee by adding a small amount of pressure.
5. Practice standing with your operated knee slightly bent and slowly straighten, repeating 10 times.

Exercises after the first day

1. Stand up holding onto a firm surface, bending your knee and lifting your foot behind you. Repeat 10 times.
2. Try walking without your crutches for five minutes. Walk slowly and evenly, taking smaller steps.
3. Practice walking up and down the stairs one step at a time. Use the handrail for support and lead with your good knee going up and operated knee going down.

Four-six weeks post-op

1. Practice the above knee exercises with resistance by adding light weights.
2. Use an exercise bike, pedaling backward initially, then forward to build up muscle strength around your knee replacement.

Your new knee may feel stiff or painful for a while, but to build strength, endurance and flexibility in your knee replacement you need to work through this discomfort, taking advice from your knee surgeon and physiotherapist.

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