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Early knee exercises

Patient information A-Z

General advice:

If you have wounds, keep them clean and dry. Do not soak in a bath until the wounds are healed. Wear a waterproof dressing to take a shower.

Avoid limping. Use a walking aid if required. Your physiotherapist will advise you on this.

Repeat these exercises as directed by your physiotherapist. Aim to gradually increase the bend of your knee each time you carry out the exercises.

A small amount of swelling is expected in the early days after an operation. If your knee becomes hot, red or uncomfortably swollen, please contact your G.P.


1. Ankle exercises

This exercise is for your circulation. Lie or sit with your back supported. Pump your ankles up or down. This should be performed regularly.

image showing ankles raising and lowering

2. Heel slides

Lie on your back, in a comfortable position. Bend your knee, keeping your heel close to the bed.


Image showing heel slides

3. Knee bends

Sit on a chair, with your thigh supported. Bend your knee until a mild stretch is felt. Hold this position for __ seconds then relax.


Image showing knee bends

4. Static quads

Lie on your back. Tighten your thigh muscles by pushing your knee down into the bed and pulling your toes towards you. Keep the knee straight. Hold this position for __ seconds.


Image showing static quads exercise

5. Inner range quads

Lie on your back. Place a rolled-up towel under the knee. Tighten the muscles at the front and back of your thigh to straighten knee and lift heel off bed.


image showing inner range quads

6. Straight leg raise

Lie on your back. Tighten the muscles on the front of your thigh. Keeping the leg straight, raise the whole leg off the bed __ cm. Hold this position for __ seconds. Slowly lower the leg.


Image showing straight leg raise

7. Knee extension

Sit on a chair. Tighten the muscles on the front of your thigh. Raise your foot and straighten the knee until the leg is fully straight. Slowly lower the leg.


Image showing knee extension

8. Lunges

Stand with one leg slightly forward and both knees bent. Lunge forward ensuring that you control the alignment by keeping the middle of your kneecap over your second toe.


Image showing lunges

9. Wall Squats

Stand leaning with your back against a wall and your feet about 20 cm from the wall.

Slowly slide down the wall until your hips and knees are at right angles. Return to starting position. Have something steady to hold on to close by for safety.

Image showing wall squats

10. Balance

Stand on one foot. Keep your balance. Hold for as long as possible. Have something steady to hold on to close by for safety.

Image showing balance on one leg

Pain relief

To help us optimise your treatment, it is important that you have adequate pain relief. If you are suffering high levels of pain please seek advice from your pharmacist or GP.

Further advice

Please be aware that this handout is to be used as a guide. If you find these exercises painful, please seek advice from your physiotherapist or GP.


Please contact our reception on 01223 216633 to leave a message for your physiotherapist or to enquire about appointments.

This information has been compiled by the physiotherapy team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. You may receive this information during an appointment with a physiotherapist, from your GP or via our website.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

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Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151