Best Rehabilitative Exercises After Knee Replacement Surgery

Discover key exercises for recovery after knee replacement surgery. Learn affordable options abroad, like Lithuania hospitals, which offer quality care at a fraction of Ireland’s cost.

Conditions like osteoarthritis or other knee injuries severely limit our quality of life and freedom. If you find that you’re unable to carry out activities of daily living, like walking or going up stairs, without significant pain, you could benefit from knee replacement surgery.

However, knee replacement surgery isn’t an instant fix. You won’t fully recover until 6 months after the operation. Your muscles, ligaments, and joints need time to heal.

Critical to recovery is the rehabilitation process. You should begin with basic strengthening exercises as soon as possible, gradually building up your abilities. Eventually, you’ll be able to walk short distances, climb stairs, and even ride an exercise bike.

Below, we’ve detailed some common exercises for knee rehabilitation – from beginner to advanced. Always consult your doctor or surgeon before starting these exercises. Some knee pain and swelling are normal after physical activity. But, if it continues or is severe, seek immediate medical attention.

Best Rehabilitative Exercises After Knee Replacement Surgery


Basic Exercises

Too often, patients assume they can bounce back to how they moved a decade prior. Take it slow. These basic exercises will improve muscular strength and aid circulation in your legs and feet. That speeds up the recovery process and reduces the risk of blood clots.

Quadriceps Sets

  1. Sit in a chair or lie down on your back. Ensure your legs are extended in front of you.
  2. Choose the leg that had the knee replacement surgery.
  3. Tighten the quadriceps muscle of your operated leg. To do this, try to push the back of your knee down against the surface.
  4. Imagine pressing the knee down while keeping the rest of your leg relaxed.
  5. Hold the muscle as tight as possible for about 5 seconds.
  6. Slowly release the contraction and relax the muscle for a few seconds.
  7. Perform multiple repetitions as recommended by your healthcare provider.

Straight Leg Raises

  1. Lie on your back on a flat surface.
  2. Bend the knee of your non-operated leg, keeping your foot flat on the surface.
  3. Keep your operated leg straight.
  4. Tighten your thigh muscle and slowly lift your operated leg about 6 inches off the surface.
  5. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then slowly lower your leg back down.

Ankle Pumps

  1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  2. Flex your foot upwards, then point your toes away from you.
  3. Continue this flex and point motion, like pressing and releasing a car pedal.

Sitting Supported Knee Bends

  1. Sit in a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Slide your operated foot forward.
  3. Gently bend your operated knee as far as it is comfortable.
  4. Use your hands or a towel under your thigh for support if needed.
  5. Hold the bent position for a few seconds, then slowly straighten your leg.

Sitting Unsupported Knee Bends

  1. Sit in a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Slowly bend your operated knee as far as you can.
  3. Try not to use your hands for support.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly straighten the leg.

Advanced Exercises


Once you’ve begun walking and other forms of gentle exercise, you can progress to more intense exercises for knee rehabilitation. Usually, these advanced exercises are introduced once all the pain and swelling subside and continue until the knee fully recovers.

Standing Knee Bends

  1. Stand facing a stable support like a countertop or the back of a sturdy chair.
  2. Place your hands on the support for balance.
  3. Slowly bend your operated knee as far as comfortable while keeping your foot on the floor.
  4. Hold the bent position for a few seconds.
  5. Slowly straighten your knee to return to the starting position.
  6. Perform the exercise several times as recommended by your healthcare provider.

Assisted Knee Bends

  1. Sit on the edge of a bed or chair with your feet touching the floor.
  2. Loop a towel under your operated leg’s ankle.
  3. Gently pull on the towel to help bend the knee.
  4. Continue to gently pull until you feel a comfortable stretch in your knee.
  5. Hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly release and straighten your leg.
  6. Perform several repetitions as advised by your healthcare provider.

Best Rehabilitative Activities After Knee Replacement Surgery



Walk post-knee replacement surgery is an incremental process. Initially, patients will need some form of support, e.g., a walker or crutches. Your surgeon or therapist will advise how much weight to put into your leg.

The key is to take your time. Get your foot placement right, and gradually move forward. Don’t drag your legs along. Lift your feet and bend your knees. Remember, the goal is to return to normal knee and leg function.

Going Up and Down Stairs

Once you can walk moderate distances, climbing stairs is the next step. Use a handrail for balance as you climb or descend. Always use your “good” knee to go upstairs and your “bad” knee to go down.

Exercise Bike or Gentle Cycling

Last, as your rehabilitation ends, a static bike is an excellent exercise for knee rehabilitation. Performing 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day can radically improve strength. Gradually increase the time on the bike and even the resistance (if the bike lets you adjust this factor).

What is The Best Option for Knee Replacement Surgery Outside of Ireland

At Kardiolita Hospital in Lithuania, knee recovery is included as part of our rehabilitation. However, we also run a customized rehabilitation program designed to optimize recovery following knee replacement surgery.

The program lasts 10-14 days and involves working with some of the best rehabilitation experts worldwide. There’s a reason Lithuania has the second-lowest number of complications after orthopedic surgeries. Best of all, we achieve these results at a fraction of the price – approximately a tenth of the cost in Ireland.

We encourage you to inquire further about their services and how they can cater to your specific needs. Get in touch today.