As your leg strengthens in the days after surgery, you will begin formal physical therapy using specialized equipment and working under the supervision of a physical therapist. The aim is to improve the strength of the muscles as well as the range of motion of the knee by working the muscles against varying degrees of resistance.
It is important to strengthen the thigh muscles following knee surgery. Particular emphasis is placed on the quadriceps and hamstring muscles as well as the inner and outer thigh muscles. The following exercises are useful in the days after surgery:
While lying on your back, bend your knee as you slowly slide the heel of your operated leg up toward your buttock. Slide as far back as you can and hold for five seconds. Slide back to the starting position and repeat again.
While lying on your back on the floor, try pressing the back of your knee flat against the floor. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat regularly.
Straight leg raising:
This is an excellent set of exercises that can strengthen all the muscles of the upper leg. There are four different straight-leg exercises to strengthen the four sides of the upper leg.
- Quads strengthening - While lying on your back, lift your leg straight up to about 12 inches. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly lower. Repeat.
- Hamstring strengthening - While lying on your stomach, raise your leg backward about 12 inches. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly lower. Repeat.
- Abductor strengthening - While lying on your side, raise the operated leg 12-18 inches. Hold for 10 seconds. Slowly lower. Repeat.
- Abductor strengthening - This time lie on the operated side. Rest the good leg on a support about two feet off the ground. Lift the operated leg up to the elevated leg. Hold for 10 seconds and then slowly lower. Repeat.
The same exercises should be done on the healthy leg as well.