8 Exercises to Do Before Knee Replacement

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Cindy Kuzma on August 13, 2021
  • smiling woman in yoga class
    Prepare For Your Surgery With Exercise
    Severe knee pain may make working out feel out of the question. But if you're preparing for a knee replacement, physical activity can actually help. In a recent study, preoperative exercise training helped older adults with arthritis function better after their operation. Here are the best moves to build strength and speed recovery.
  • Walking
    1. Walking
    Five minutes of walking can help you warm up and cool down from strengthening exercises. Do more, and you'll torch calories that will help you shed pounds. If you're overweight, slimming down can reduce your risk of complications and improve your recovery.
  • African American woman and friends exercising and doing squats on basketball court
    2. Squats
    Stand, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out slightly. Shift hips back and bend knees to lower. Continue until your thighs are parallel to the floor, keeping knees behind your toes. Push through your heels and straighten knees to return to starting position. Do 10 to 20 repetitions.
  • Leg Extenstions
    3. Leg Extensions
    Sit tall, feet flat on the floor. Lift one leg until your knee is straight. Hold a few seconds, return to start, and then repeat with the other leg. Do 10 to 20 repetitions each. For a bigger challenge, attach one end of a securely anchored resistance band to your ankle.
  • back of woman's legs with red area, concept image of inflammation or pain in the back of the leg
    4. Leg Curls
    Stand, holding a chair for balance if needed. Shift your weight to one leg and bend the other knee, keeping thighs close. Lift until your foot is about 12 inches off the floor behind you. Return to starting position; repeat with the other leg. Do 10 to 20 repetitions each.
  • Side Leg Raises
    5. Side Leg Raises
    Stand, feet hip-width apart, gripping a chair back if needed. Slowly lift one leg to the side until your legs are 10 to 12 inches apart. Hold for one second and then lower. Use an elastic band or cable to increase resistance. Do 10 to 20 repetitions on each side.
  • Lying Hip Strengtheners
    6. Lying Hip Strengtheners
    Lie on one side with both legs on the floor. Move your lower leg a few inches in front of your upper leg. Prop your head up with your hand for support. Lift your lower leg several inches off the ground and then slowly lower. Do 10 to 20 repetitions on each side.
  • Health Club and Aerobics Gym
    7. Step-Ups
    Stand in front of a sturdy platform about one foot high. Slowly step one foot forward onto the platform and then push off the ground with your other foot to step all the way up. Return to starting position one foot at a time. Do eight to 20 steps on each side.
  • Practice With Assistive Devices
    8. Practice With Assistive Devices
    Ask your doctor whether a cane, walker, or wheelchair can help you maneuver after your operation. If so, get one in advance. Practice getting in and out of the shower, going up and down stairs, and getting on and off the toilet.
  • Young African American male patient look at knee model with Asian American female doctor or therapist
    Ask Your Doctor or Physical Therapist for More
    Your doctor may recommend a visit with a physical therapist to help you prepare for surgery. Either of these healthcare professionals can suggest specific exercises that meet your needs. If there are exercises you'll do after surgery, starting them now can make them easier to complete with your new knee.
8 Exercises to Do Before Knee Replacement
  1. Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00220
  2. Total Knee Replacement. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00389
  3. Standing Hip Abduction. American Council on Exercise. http://www.acefitness.org/exerciselibrary/103/standing-hip-abduction
  4. Standing Hamstrings Curl. American Council on Exercise. http://www.acefitness.org/exerciselibrary/132/standing-hamstrings-curl
  5. Bodyweight Squat. American Council on Exercise. http://www.acefitness.org/exerciselibrary/135/bodyweight-squat
  6. Dumbbell Step-up. American Council on Exercise. http://www.acefitness.org/exerciselibrary/28/dumbbell-step-up
  7. Strength and Balance Exercises. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/CardiacRehab/Strength-and-Balance-Exercises_UCM_307384...
  8. Knee Joint Replacement. National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002974.htm
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Last Review Date: 2021 Aug 13
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.