Stretching after Knee Surgery

Regularly stretching after knee surgery will help you have a faster recovery time. Always consult your doctor before performing any stretches or exercises after surgery.

Begin with a brief aerobic warm up, and stop immediately if any activity causes pain or discomfort. Hold the stretch for 20 to 60 seconds without bouncing, and repeat on both sides.

Ankle Pumps and Circles

These are performed very soon after surgery to prevent dangerous clotting of the veins and arteries.

  1. Pull toes up and toward you.
  2. Bend ankle down with toes pointing away from you. 
  3. Rotate foot both clockwise and counterclockwise with toes pointed up.

Lying Quad Stretch

The quad stretch is the most important stretch in recovery as it tends to help relax the other muscles that support the knee.

  1. Lie on belly with knees together, bending knee to move foot toward the buttock.
  2. With your hand, pull the foot toward the buttock until you feel a gentle stretch on the quad muscle. 
  3. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

Sitting Hamstring Stretch

The hamstrings help to support the backs of the legs, and stretching them will aid in increasing flexibility and preventing muscle spasms.

  1. Sitting in a chair, keep heel on the floor while straightening one leg.
  2. Lean forward at the hips, keeping back straight.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds.

Sitting Inner Thigh Stretch

The inner thighs, hip abductors, help to keep the hips in line from the inside. They are the most neglected, but essential for balance and hip stability.

  1. Start by sitting on the floor with knees slightly bent and feet spread far apart.
  2. With back straight and toes pointing toward you, first lean forward until you feel a gentle pull on the inner thigh.
  3. Then lean towards the left and right sides, holding for 30 seconds each.

Sitting Outer Thigh Stretch

Outer thighs, or hip abductors, move the legs together. They help stabilize the hips as well.

  1. Start in a sitting position on the floor with legs slightly bent.
  2. Cross the left foot over the right knee, putting it flat on the floor on the outside.
  3. Rotate upper body to the left and with the right elbow gently push against outside of left knee until you feel an easy pull in the right hip. 
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.

Hip Flexor Stretch (Front of Thigh)

The hip flexors help to align the knee bones and should be stretched to aid in flexibility and balance.

  1. Stand and put right foot forward, with you right knee bent and left knee slightly bent. 
  2. Hold for 30 seconds, keeping your back straight.

Calf Stretch

The calf is a major supporting muscle, and like the hamstrings, stretching it after surgery will help prevent muscle spasms.

  1. Step one foot forward, and bend forward slightly at your hips.
  2. With toes pointed straight and heel flat, bend front knee until you feel the stretch. 
  3. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Iliotibial Band Stretch

The iliotibial band helps support the outside of the knees, and stretching this muscle will minimize friction over that area during exercise.

  1. Sitting in a chair, bring right foot to the outside of the left leg as if trying to cross your legs.
  2. Pull the right knee towards the left shoulder so that the knee crosses the center of the body. 
  3. Hold for 30 seconds.

Gluteal Stretch

The gluteal muscles are also hip stabilizers.  Besides helping with flexibility and balance, gluteal stretches help to relax the body.

  1. Stand about two feet in front of a chair.
  2. Put left foot on the seat, leg bent.
  3. Bring chest toward knee, keeping back straight.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.

Finally, to reduce inflamation after your exercise session, elevate the leg and apply ice to the knee.


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