Total Knee Replacement Exercises – Ask Doctor Jo

Total Knee Replacement Exercises – Ask Doctor Jo

Hey everybody, it’s Doctor Jo. Today I’m gonna
show you some range of motion exercises for your knee after a total knee replacement.
Let’s get started. With a total knee replacement, this is the one big surgery I would say it’s a no pain, no gain
situation. You really have to kind of push yourself through that pain to get your motion
back. And those early stages, the first week after your surgery are the most important
because then the scar tissue starts building up in your knee and if you don’t get that
motion in there, you’re gonna have a lot harder time as time passes. So I’m just gonna show
you some very simple ones, but again, make sure you’re pushing yourself just a little
bit through these exercises. The first one is just gonna be a simple heel slide sitting
in a chair. So you’re gonna start probably in about this position because this might
be a comfortable position for you right now, right after your surgery. Try and keep your
foot flat on the ground, and just start sliding it back towards you. Now you can put a towel
underneath if you want a little more slide, most the time if you just have your socks
on that works as well. You can do a continuous slide back and forth and try and push your
heel back more each time. What’s gonna happen is your heel’s gonna start coming up like
this. That’s your body trying to compensate for that motion. So really try and keep that
heel down. Once you do about 10, then take a little break. But what the next step of
that is, is slide it back and then try and pump your foot a couple times. And see how
that actually makes me get a little more bend in my knee while I do that? And then try and
slide it back a little more. And then pump that foot. Trying to keep that heel down and
then slide one more time if you can, and you probably won’t be able to bring those toes
up quite as high, but really try and pump it. And then come back. So that’s kind of
a two step motion there. Now the next one is to straighten the leg out. This is probably
the one people have the hardest time with. Sometimes it’s one or the other, but most
of the time it’s the straightening out. So what you’re gonna do is prop your foot up
on another chair, or a table, an ottoman something, so you’re probably gonna be about here right
now. So just having gravity push on it is gonna help some, but again, you have to be
a little bit aggressive with this. So you can take your hand and push down. Not on your
knee, you don’t want it to be on the joint, but just above the knee kind of in that thigh
area. And push down for about 5-10 seconds and then come back up. If you’re having a
hard time and it’s really bent into that flexed position and you don’t have that extension
straightening out. You can put a bag of, a plastic bag, and then put some soup cans or
vegetable cans in it, and again put it just at the top and then let it hang. I have a
video for that for the knee extension exercises if you want to check it out. And again, you
can use your hand, just to push it down a little bit, but try and hold it about 5-10
seconds if you can and then relax. Alright, the next ones are gonna be down on the ground.
So now you’re gonna get down on the ground. If you can’t get up off the ground very well,
you can do these in your bed. You can do all these exercises lying down in your bed. So
lying down, the knee that hasn’t had the surgery, you’re gonna prop it up. And then you’re gonna
have your other leg out and you’re just gonna do a heel slide lying down now. So coming
up again trying to keep your foot flat if you can and then coming back down. So just
slide up, and then come back down. So you can do about 10 of those really try and loosen
it up a little bit. You might not be able to get quite that high to start off with.
That’s ok, just go as high as you can. After you get it loosened up, then you can use a
strap, if you don’t have a strap you can use a belt or a dog leash, or a towel and put
it about at your shin level, so it doesn’t slide up, and then you’re actually gonna pull
up a little bit more. So this one, you’re trying to get that extra bend in there, that
extra stretch. So coming up and back. And then if you want to try and hold it for about
5-10 seconds, if you can tolerate it. Then do that and come back down. So again, getting
that pull with the strap, or the belt, or the dog leash. And then the last exercise
is gonna be a quad set. And what that is, is your knee might not quite be straight yet,
and so you’re gonna lay down and then try to push your knee down into the ground. And
that’s squeezing this quad muscle, that’s why it’s called a quad set. If you need a
little target, like a towel, you can roll up a towel and put it underneath your knee.
But you really want to push down and get it as straight as you can. So just squeeze down,
hold that for about 5-10 seconds. Now if you take your toes and pull them up, as you squeeze
down, that’ll help kind of activate all those muscles and give you that extra stretch with
the calf as well as the quad. So squeeze, hold about 5-10 seconds, and then do 10 of
those. So there you have it. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section.
If you’d like to check out some other videos, go to and Remember, be safe,
you’re gonna have to push that knee a little bit with a total knee replacement, have fun.
And I hope you feel better soon.

About the author


  1. ooh, Dr. Jo! I haven't had a knee replacement (broken ankle here) but know quite a few people who have, and I was wincing watching this video, lol. I am still working on my ROM myself and discovered that I have a lot of difficulty with squats. The affected heel won't stay on the floor. Do you have any exercises to address this issue? (I'm 14 months post ORIF and FWB without assistance)

  2. dr. Joe I cannot get out of bed I can't bend my knees very intense pain ankle pain I've been in bed over a week what to do? No help.

  3. Hi Jo , my total knee replacement is fully stiff barely any range of movement, any recommendations? is there a scar tissue surgery out there?

  4. l had undergone TKR Surgery on 21st March 2017.If possible please send physiotherapy exercises videos for speedy recovery to my e-mail.

  5. hi i,m from australia and i,m 56 and i,m having a total knee replacment in a weeks time. I have had a injured knee for over 10 years and i have put on wright, last yera i had a shoulder repair witch is doing great. i have a chronic back problem and some day i carn,t walk with my back pain. my husband thinks that i will be able to do anything after the knee opperation. i,m scard as last time i had a knee and sholder opperation i fell over and broke my wrist.

  6. Hello! I had Total Knee Replacement on my right knee on March 2nd. (i'm 52 yrs old) and i am at about 85%, my doctor told me he wants me at 120% by May 8th or He will do total knee manipulation and I honestly don't want that….It's frustrating. What can I do to get my knee to bend?? 🙁

  7. month ago i had TKR in both in good condition..bending n strenthening bt another one..strenthening is very good bt no bending..only 65 degree..n its after 1 n half month of surgery… my PT said do cycling n will improve automaticaly bt am afraid too me plz

  8. Hello. I had a partial replacement in 2015 and I never got to 0 extension because the replacement came a loose. I just had a fully replacement 5 weeks ago and was told it would be hard to get to 0 extension since I didn't last time. How soon should I get to 0 extension this time around before it's too late? I am still not there after 5 weeks. Thank you!

  9. Thank you for this video. My knee is killing me, I just hope the pain I feel now will be somewhere else after the operation. I will follow you and update again after taking the plunge.

  10. Hello. After my TKR the PT office asked that I walk on the knee to break up scar tissue. I did it twice and the second time my knee felt like it had a rolled up towel accross the center and when it would unroll, it coated the knee, which makes it difficult to walk, etc. Have you ever heard of this? I know I can't be the only one with this feeling. Thanks

  11. Just came from my 2nd PT session.
    Yes it hurts
    I can bend 90°and almost totally straighten.
    Guess what.
    It hurts, lol.
    Doctor told me mechanically it will do full range. So, figure I better do best.
    It does hurt though. Don't kid yourself

  12. mam I can't able to do this after removing plaster of one month from knee….what sould i do to free knee … there is also tight and swelling on knee . It's can't bend after 90 degree help me

  13. Hello doctor! i had undisplased fracture of tibial plateau with posterior crusiate ligament ,kindly advise to speedy recovery exercises and walking tips.
    Now I am on 6th week.
    Thank u.

  14. Dr Jo i just come across your site i had knee surgery almost three months ago with lots of pain esp when walking been doing your excercise and my bending is much better coming to 90

  15. Also i can see my knee locking in which is making difficult to walk . Pls help with tips and excercise i had knee replacement.

  16. I had TKRS,5 months back,I am doing my exercises regularly,but still on pain killers as got stiffness, tightness, swelling & pain..
    Please help,I am from Pakistan 🇵🇰

  17. Waaaaa I'm worrying about my knee replacement I hear so many bad things and some what good. I've been 2 year with a shatter knee .walking isn't fun pain is unreal. Fanilly I get a replacement . I hope is good.

  18. I had bike accident on febuary and had operation on my patella…so what the best excercise for broken patella…please help

  19. I already had a patella fracture operation and now my knee wont be lift up by myself , is my quad tendon and knee can be back to normal again to be lift up by myself? Thank you

  20. This is where I live I am a year and a half out. What exercises at the gym, or sports do you recommend?? I am 36 and had bilateral total knee replacements. It seems like everything I use to love is on the forbidden list and everything boring and meant for 70 year olds is recommended 😭😭

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *