Top 12 Best Knee Rehab Exercises | Strengthen Knees FAST

Written By on May 11, 2020 — Medically Reviewed By Kristopher Ceniza

Written by on May 11, 2020 — Medically Reviewed By: Kristopher Cenzia

Exercises for knee pain post-surgery

Many experience knee pain long after surgery has been completed. Some forms of the best knee rehab workouts were listed above, but there are some more specific exercises that you can undertake at home to get function back in your knee joint sooner. 1

Once you are at home there are a few things that you can do in order to regain the range of motion in your knee.

Do not take on too much too soon.

Surgery is quite extensive and often the last resort for knee injuries. You do not want to rush the healing process and risk further injury.

1. Ankle pumping exercise

Knee Rehab Exercises, girl ankle pumping exercise lying on the floor

Ankle pumping exercises will get the blood flowing and can be done lying down with minimal effort. Simply pump your feet up and down, pulling them toward you then pushing them away, flexing at the ankle.

Make sure to do this up to 10 times every hour while you are awake.

2. Sitting knee flexion

knee rehab exercises for knee pain, sitting knee flexion, girl sitting on the chair

The knee bending stretch, or sitting knee flexion is one of the best strengthening exercises that you can perform at home. Sit toward the front of a chair and bend your knee, slowly sliding it back and forth.

Make sure that you rest where necessary and do not overextend yourself. You will slowly be able to move your knee further and further without pain.

3. Straight leg raises

straight leg raises exercises for knee pain, knee rehab exercises, woman lying on the floor exercising for knee pain

Straight leg raises are also a great exercise to undertake in the home. Lay on your back and bend your non-surgical knee so that your foot is flat on the floor.

Gently raise and lower your opposite leg, keeping it straight in the air for as long as you can hold it them slowly lower it back to the ground. Repeat this for up to 10 reps at a time.

Knee Force Knee Sleeve

4. Heel slides

knee rehab exercises, heel slides for knee pain, woman lying on the floor exercises heel slides for knee pain

Heel slides can also help to gain function in the knee more rapidly. Lay back on the bed and take your surgical knee and leg, bending it by sliding it slowly up to the buttock, keeping the heel on the bed.

Before any serious knee pain is felt, slowly slide the heel back down to the starting position against the mattress and relax. Keep the kneecap pointed up toward the ceiling at all times during this exercise.

5. Ankle circles

Knee rehab exercises ankle circles for knee pain, woman doing ankle circles for the knee

Ankle pumps and circles are another exercise that you can do the strengthen the joints. Like the ankle pump, you extend your foot and move it in a circular motion for ankle circles.

6. Lying side clams

Knee rehab exercise, lying slide clams for knee pain, man lying on a bed doing lying side clams for knee pain

For lying side clams you will need to start by lying on your side with your knees slightly bent and positioned in front of you. Now, rotate the upper leg out just by utilizing your gluteal muscles. Do not move your upper body and also do not push off from your toes.

To begin your range of motion will be low but as you continue to practice the exercise, as long as it is done right then you will feel some muscles in the buttocks working.

Perform 10 reps and hold each position for 2 to 3 seconds each. Switch to the other side and complete two sets per side to finish off the exercise.

While practicing the exercise you will want to concentrate on contracting the glutes as much as you can. If you would like a higher intensity exercise then you may want to invest in an elastic to place around both knees in order to increase resistance.

7. Side-lying hip abduction

knee rehab exercises side-lying hip abduction for knee pain and knee injury

Next is the side-lying hip abduction. You will start lying on your side and have your body in a straight line.

Lift the top leg up as far as you are able, leading with your heel. Again, you do not want to move your upper body.

Similarly to the lying side clams, you will repeat for the other leg after 10 reps and complete on each side twice to finish the set.

You can also add elastic between the knees if you want to increase the intensity later on.

8. Glute bridge

knee rehab exercises glutei bridge for knee pain, woman lying on the floor doing exercises for knee pain and knee injury

On to the glute bridge. You may have heard of this exercise and it is great to strengthen your knees especially after an injury. Lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees at a 90-degree angle.

Press your body up into a bridge, with your arms supporting your body on the floor. While you are here contract your glutes.

There should be a straight line from your upper body to your knees. you want to make your hamstrings looser and your glutes tight.

Complete 2 sets of 10 reps. If you want a harder exercise you can try the one-legged glute bridge by having one foot extended in the air.

Concentrate on maintaining the proper position for your upper body.

9. X-band walks

girl doing x-band walks knee rehab exercises, x-band walks for knee pain

For the X-band walks you will need an elastic. Loop the band around your feet in the standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down slightly and start walking sideways.

Move one leg at a time, not allowing the moving leg to drag on the ground. resist the tension on the band around your feet and pick them up as you move.

If you use a stronger band you can increase the intensity of the exercise, or simply pull the band tighter.

Move without using your momentum. Stop at any point and change direction. You may want to take this exercise across the room and back again.

Knee Force Knee Sleeve

10. Frontal thrust

knee rehab exercises girl or woman doing frontal thrust for knee pain exercises

For the frontal thrust, stand on the floor with your legs directly under your hips. Turn the supporting foot out about 45-degrees and bend the knee of this leg slightly. Lift your leg in front of you, locking out the knee. Push the heel forward and pull the toes out towards your shin.

Sit back on the planted leg slightly, but not so much that you lose your balance. Flex the quadriceps of the elevated leg and the glutes of the supporting leg. This will help the hamstring of the elevated leg to relax.

11. Outward rotating lunge

knee rehab exercises outward rotating lunge for knee pain, girl or woman doing exercise for knee pain

Using the previous position, turn with your whole leg by rotating your leg outwards. Lead with the smallest toe, pointing the toes back. The foot of the working leg must be turned outward at a 45-degree angle.

Sit back while keeping your balance and continue to rotate your leg outwards. Exhale once you are stable on the ground, gripping it with your toes.

12. Inward rotating lunge

knee rehab exercises, girl or woman doing inward rotating lunge exercise for knee pain

In the same position as above, leading with your heel and rotating your leg inwards, thrust it back into a locked out position. To maintain the balance you will need to lean forward. Do not forget to exhale and grip the ground with your toes.

Keep your head aligned with your spine in this exercise, looking down.

Walking is also a great tool for rehabilitation post-surgery. It may begin with walking around the home up to five times and day and once the injury has significantly healed a lengthy walk around the block can increase your physical activity while also gaining movement back in the knee.

These are some of the best knee recovery exercises, from the hospital all the way to your home.

How to rehab your bad knees

There is plenty of different information circulating in order to get you up and moving in good time following a severe knee injury.

A physical therapist is the best person to see when it is time to get moving again once a significant period of immobilization has been reached.

This is crucial in most cases and will give the knee joint enough time to rest and physically heal before getting back into a routine of exercise and physical activity.

Some recommended forms of exercise to get patients up and moving again after a knee injury include water-based activities, such as water aerobics and swimming, walking, and low-impact circuits.

Water activities take a lot of the pressure off the knee due to the buoyancy of the water. this can often do no end of good when people are recovering from serious knee injuries.

Swimming and water aerobics are also great for burning large amounts of calories while keeping the body at a cooler temperature.

These are some of the best rehab exercises for knee injuries and should be considered upon recommendation from a medical professional.

It may take anywhere from six weeks to many months for the knee to fully heal, but this does not mean that your health has to suffer.

Staying active and participating in cardiovascular exercise is an important way to stay active and keep your mind and body in check after what can often be a long period of being inactive.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you rehab a knee injury?

Water-based activities are the best way to begin your rehabilitation following a serious knee injury. The buoyancy of the water supports your weight and take the pressure off your injured joints.

It will also burn calories while keeping your body at a cooler temperature which makes it quite comfortable especially after a long period without physical activity.

What is the best exercise after knee surgery?

Water-based activities are the best way to begin your rehabilitation following a serious knee injury. The buoyancy of the water supports your weight and take the pressure off your injured joints.

It will also burn calories while keeping your body at a cooler temperature which makes it quite comfortable especially after a long period without physical activity.

Exercises for knee pain post-surgery
Mitch Torres (PT)
Mitch is a physical therapist, personal trainer, and nutrition coach. Fascinated with the knee joint, Mitch poured that passion into writing about knee pain and how to overcome it with movement. His goal is to teach you how to apply this knowledge into your daily life, so you can keep knee pain away for good.