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A physiotherapist will assist you with exercises to help your circulation and help restore movement to the joint. They will also assist and teach you to walk.

Your surgeon may provide alternative exercises.

Day of operation

It is important that you start with some simple exercises straight after your surgery.

Deep breathing exercises

Lying or sitting down, take a deep breath in through your nose and feel your tummy rise.
Then breathe out slowly through your mouth. Take four deep breaths every hour.

Deep Breathing

Ankle exercises

Move your feet up and down at the ankles.
Repeat 10 times each hour.

This is to help your circulation.


Quadriceps (thigh) exercises

Press the back of your knees down into the bed. Hold for five seconds, then relax.

Repeat 10 times each hour.

03 Quadraceps

Gluteal (buttock) exercises

Lying on your back squeeze your buttocks firmly together.

Hold for five seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times each hour.


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Days 1 - 3 after your operation

Repeat all exercises 4 - 5 times a day. Build-up how many repetitions you do.

Quadriceps (thigh) exercises

Pull your toes towards you.

Press your knee down into the bed.

Hold for five seconds, relax. Repeat five times.


Inner-range quads

Place a rolled up towel under your knee. Keep your thigh resting on the towel and lift your heel so that you straighten your knee.

05 Inner Range Quads

Straight leg raise

Keep your knee straight and your
toes pulled back.

Tighten your thigh muscles.

Lift your leg about 10cm off the bed. Lower slowly.

Straight Leg Raise

Exercises designed to help you stretch your knee:

Knee straightening

Place your heel on a pillow or rolled up towel. Let your knee hang down.

This will stretch out the structures at the back of your knee, helping you to get a straight leg.

Do it for a minute to start with and build up.

Knee Straightening

Knee bends

Bend your knee and slide your foot towards you.

If this is difficult we can give you a board to do it on.

At home you can use a tray or plastic bag.

Knee Bends

Sitting knee bends

Sit in a chair with your foot on the ground. Slide the foot firmly towards you and then release.
Hold for five seconds each time in the fully
bent position.

Do not allow your hips to move, just the foot.

You can use your "good" foot to help slide the "operated" leg back.

Sitting Knee Bends

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Days 3 - 4 after your operation

These exercises are designed to help you to strengthen and stretch your knee.

Knee extension

Sit on a chair (if you like, you can have a small 1-2kg weight around your ankle).

Pull your toes up, tighten the front of your thigh muscle and straighten your knee slowly.

Hold for approximately five seconds, lower slowly.

Knee Extension

Sustained knee extension

Rest your foot on a foot stool, let your knee straighten.

Let gravity pull your knee down

Hold as long as you can tolerate (eg - one minute to 10 minutes).

You need to continue these exercises when you get home from hospital.
Your physiotherapist will give guidance on when to extend your walking distances and when you can move on to the more challenging exercises.

Sustained Knee Extension

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More challenging exercises

Assisted knee flexion

While sitting, bend your operated knee as far as you can.

Then cross your good leg over your operated leg to assist further knee bend.

Hold for five seconds.

Assisted Knee Flexion

Knee flexion in standing

Stand, holding on to a solid support.

Keeping your knees together, bend your foot up behind you.

Knee Flexion In Standing

Mini knee squats

Stand and lean against a wall.

Place feet hip width apart, about 20cm away from wall.

Gently slide down wall as far as comfortable.

Hold for five seconds.

14 Mini Knee Squats

Gentle lunges

Place your operated leg in front. Stand by a step, hold railing for support.

Place operated leg onto step. Gently bend knee and lunge forward.

Hold for three seconds.

 Gentle Lunges

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Getting around

16 Standing Sitting CrutchesStanding and sitting with crutches

Do not stand up or sit down with your hands through the crutches.

Place your crutches together to make an "H" shape. Hold the handles of your crutches together with your operated side hand and place your other hand on the arm of your chair or on the edge of your bed. Push up from the bed / chair and your un-operated leg to stand up.

Once standing, place one arm into one of the crutches and hold onto the other crutch as you put your other hand in it. Then bring your crutches out to each side.

To sit, reverse this procedure remembering to put your operated leg out in front of you when you sit.

17 Walking CrutchesWalking with crutches / frame

Stand up straight and keep your head up.

To take a step:

  • take both crutches forward first
  • step forward with your affected leg and take the weight through your arms
  • step forward with your good leg.

Walk with your feet pointing straight ahead - try not to let your affected leg turn out to the side.

Turning - do not pivot or swivel on a fixed leg, but lift feet up and take small steps.

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A good way to remember which leg goes first when going up / down stairs with crutches, is using the acronyms GAS and SAG.

Going Up Stairs

Going up

Place GOOD leg first.

Then AFFECTED leg up same step.

Followed lastly by STICKS (crutches).

If using a banister/hand rail, put your crutches into one hand in the shape of a cross, and hold the banister with the other hand, as in the first picture.

If someone is with you when using the stairs, please ask them to carry one crutch to enable you to use the banister/hand rail.

Going Down StairsGoing down

Place STICKS (crutches) down a step first.

Then AFFECTED leg on step.

Followed by GOOD leg on same step.

Last updated: March 21, 2019