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Exercise After Knee Replacement Surgery

The purpose of knee replacement surgery is to help you resume an active life. Of course, you will need to take some time to heal after the procedure — but the best way to stop hurting is to start moving.

“If you were in significant pain before your surgery, you probably cut back on activities, which weakened your muscles,” says Patrick R. Knight, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Saint Francis Medical Center. “You need to develop muscle strength so you can control your new joint.”

Patrick R. Knight, MD
Patrick R. Knight, MD

At Saint Francis’ Center for Joint Replacement and Revision, doctors, nurses and therapists work with you to develop a plan that will help you recover. This means you will be walking with assistance within 24 hours of your surgery.

By the time you leave the hospital, you will be walking with a walker and bending your knee. After you return home, the hard work continues.

“It is incredibly important that you continue to perform the exercises your physical therapist showed you,” says Knight. “A new joint is useless if you are not able to move well, and strength and flexibility are key to moving.”

The following are common exercises physical therapists recommend to strengthen the knee:

  1. Straight leg lifts – Lie flat on your back and lift your straight leg for five seconds. This exercise helps strengthen the quadriceps.
  2. Knee bends – Sit in a chair and bend your knee as far as possible so it is underneath the chair. Hold for ten seconds. Over time, scoot forward in the chair to further increase the range of motion.

Once you have recovered your range of motion and can walk more easily, it is time to implement a more permanent exercise routine to keep your new joint healthy. Talk to your doctor about what kinds of low-impact cardiovascular and strengthening exercises are best for you.

For more information, call 573-331-3000.

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