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Knee Pre-Op Exercises

author image Stephenie Labandz
Stephenie Labandz is a physical therapist currently specializing in pediatrics. She received her Master of Physical Therapy degree in 2002 and her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2009, both from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn.
Knee Pre-Op Exercises
Pre-operative exercise can smooth the post-operative course. Photo Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Patients who maximize leg strength prior to surgery increase the rate at which they regain function post-operatively. The number of hours spent in post-operative rehab can be decreased by taking time to exercise before surgery. Physical preparedness also has a positive effect on mental coping following the procedure. Perform exercises two to three times per day and strengthen both legs. Avoid motions that result in sharp pain. Maintain breathing at a consistent rate.

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Ankle Pumps

In a comfortable position, bend your ankles so that your toes alternate between pointing up toward your body and down away from your body. Repeat the motion 10 times. It is beneficial to develop a habit of performing this motion several times a day. This not only helps strengthen the lower legs, but increases circulation to decrease swelling and the risk of blood clots following surgery.

Quadriceps Sets

While lying on your back or in a reclined position with leg supported, tighten your thigh muscle. It may be helpful to place a rolled washcloth or hand towel behind your knee and concentrate on flattening it. Press the back of knee downward and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Straight Leg Raises

While lying on your back, bend one knee and place the foot flat on the support surface. This stabilizes your body and minimizes the strain on your back while you exercise the opposite leg. Straighten the knee you are exercising. Keeping the leg straight with kneecap and big toe pointing toward the ceiling, slowly lift the leg until the heel is about 12 inches above the support surface. Lower the leg back down to the support surface slowly. Repeat 10 times.

Hip Abduction

Lie on your side. Bend the bottom leg for your comfort and to help with balance. Keeping the top leg straight, lift it up toward the ceiling about 12 inches and lower it with control, like a scissor slowly opening and closing. Repeat 10 times.

Knee Extension

Sit upright with both feet on the floor. In a motion similar to kicking, slowly straighten your knee as much as possible, then slowly lower the foot to the floor. Repeat 10 times.

Knee Flexion

Stand with your hands supported on a counter or the back of a chair. Lift one foot off the floor, bending the knee and bringing the foot upward toward your buttocks as far as possible. Slowly lower the foot back down to the floor. Repeat 10 times.

Keep Moving

Participate in low-impact aerobic and strengthening activities such as walking, bicycling, and swimming as tolerated and as supported by your physician. This maximizes your overall level of fitness and keeps the knee joint moving through its available range of motion.

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