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How to improve range of motion in your knee

Exercises to Improve Range of Motion and Flexibility following Total Knee Replacement

With a large backlog of individuals awaiting elective surgeries to be performed, we would like to share different variations of improving your ability to bend and straighten your knee following a total knee replacement procedure.

Restoring Full Knee Extension Range of Motion

Achieving full knee extension is the first goal of therapy following a total knee replacement. We need to be able to attain 0 deg of knee extension in order to be able to walk correctly without compensation. Here are three ways to improve knee extension following a total knee replacement.

Knee Extension with Heel Prop

  • Place a towel roll under ankle while sitting or lying
  • Completely relax your leg
  • Your knee will move downward towards surface as gravity stretches the knee
  • Try to relax and hold stretch for 2-3 minutes

Knee Extension with Chair Prop

  • While sitting, prop your foot onto another chair
  • Relax and allow gravity to stretch your knee into a more straightened position
  • You should mainly feel this in the back of the knee and leg
  • Try to relax and hold stretch for 2-3 minute
Knee extension with chair

Seated Quad Set

  • While sitting, straighten knee and place heel firmly on ground
  • Tighten the top of your thigh muscle to press back of knee towards the ground
  • Hold contraction for 3-5 seconds
  • Relax and repeat for 20 repetitions

Improving Knee Flexion Range of Motion

Knee flexion is important to reduce hip stress and improve function like climbing stairs, and rises.  Here are three ways to improve knee flexion following a total knee replacement.

Heel slides

  • Place a small towel under your heel
  • Loop a towel, dog leash or belt around your foot
  • Pull your foot towards your butt causing your knee to bend
  • Hold for a deep breath once your knee has bent as far as it will go
  • Allow your foot to slide forward back to the starting position
  • Repeat for 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps multiple times a day

Self Assisted Knee Flexion in chair

  • Place a small towel under your heel
  • Position unaffected leg over the top of the shin of the operated leg
  • Use your unaffected leg to bend your operated knee until a stretch is felt
  • Hold stretch for a deep breath
  • Relax and allow affected leg to slide forward
  • Repeat for 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps multiple times a day

Wall Slides

  • Place a towel under your heel
  • Lay on your back with both legs up a wall or closed door
  • Slowly bend the operated knee so that your heel slides down into a stretch
  • Hold stretch for a deep breath
  • Actively return the operated leg to the original position
  • Repeat for 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps multiple times a day

If you have questions about what you can do to improve your knee mobility after a total knee replacement, contact Cory Tatman, PT, DPT at (623) 248-8830 or email him at corytatman@tstaz.com.   Also you can follow Dr. Tatman on our social media links below.

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