It is amazing how quickly you can start to work your knee after surgery. Often, you can begin the rebuilding process while still in the recovery room. Here are a few good exercises to try with your doctor's permission.
Quad tightening involves sitting or lying down in bed, tightening the muscles in your quad and straightening the knee. Hold the position for five to 10 seconds. Try doing this one 10 times in two minutes.
Leg raises are another beneficial exercise. In bed, tighten your quads and straighten the knee then bring your entire leg up and hold it at a 30 to 45 degree angle for 10 seconds. Do this until your quad begins to tire.
Calf pumps are another good exercise. Remain in bed and flex your toes and foot back and forth, feeling the muscles in your calf and shin contract and release. Do this whenever you have time until your lower leg muscles feel tired.
Perform the knee bend. While still in bed, put a small rolled-up towel or roll of toilet paper just above the ankle so the leg is just up off the bed. Squeeze your quadriceps, straighten the leg and then try to touch the back of the knee to the bed.
Once your surgeon tells you that it is OK to get up and start moving around, you'll want to be careful with the new knee. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the best way to rehabilitate after knee replacement surgery is to start walking around. In the beginning, you'll most likely need a set of crutches or a walker. Your doctor should be able to tell you how much weight you can put on the knee. Once you are ready, start applying weight to the surgically repaired knee joint. Initially, walking will involve placing the heel of your straight leg down in front of you and then slowly moving over it, foot flat on floor until your foot revolves up to your toes. As you get more accustomed to it, you'll begin to be able to move in a smooth motion. Eventually, two or three weeks down the line, you'll be able to move around with the help of just a single crutch.
Once you are able to go short periods of time without the help of a walker or crutches, you can begin building the strength back up in the limb. Since your leg has been out of action for some time, the muscles around the knee have also lost strength. Here are some advanced exercises that will start to get the mobility and muscle back in your leg.
Standing knee bends are relatively simple. Find something to support your standing weight and, using that for balance, bend your knee as far as you can and hold it for five to 10 seconds then bring it back down. Repeat the motion until you feel fatigue in the limb.
Assisted knee bends are another good move. Lay down and, using a towel or resistance band wrapped around the ankle, begin pulling your heel towards your buttocks. Go as far as you can until you start to feel mild discomfort. Hold that position for five to 10 seconds and then let the leg straighten out.
An exercise bike is excellent for both building strength and mobility in the limb. The nice thing about a stationary bike as opposed to actual road biking is that you can set the tension and keep the workout consistent from start to finish.