Orthopaedics: The Charles J August Joint Replacement Center

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Exercise Plans


What to Do for Exercise

Choose a Low Impact Activity
  • Recommended exercise classes
  • Home program as outlined in your Patient Guidebook
  • Regular one to three mile walks
  • Home treadmill (for walking)
  • Stationary bike
  • Regular exercise at a fitness center
  • Low-impact sports such as golf, bowling, walking, gardening, dancing, swimming etc.

Consult with your surgeon or physical therapist about returning to specific sport activities.

What Not to Do
  • Do not run or engage in high-impact activities such as contact sports, etc.
  • Do not participate in high-risk activities such as downhill skiing, etc.
  • Do not take up new sports requiring strength and agility until you discuss it with your surgeon or physical therapist.
Pre - and Post-op Exercises and Goals

Activity Guidelines
Exercising is important to obtain the best results from total knee surgery. Always consult your physician before starting a home exercise program. After surgery, you may receive exercises from a physical therapist at an outpatient facility or at home. In either case, you will still need to train daily with a home exercise program until your goals are reached. After each therapy session, ask your therapist to outline any changes to your program that will keep you moving toward the goals listed on the next few pages.

Weeks 1-2

After two to three days, you should be ready for discharge from the hospital. Most joint patients go directly home, but you may be advised to go to a rehabilitation center for five to seven days. During weeks one and two of your recovery, typical goals are to:
  • Continue with walker or two crutches unless otherwise instructed.
  • Walk at least 300 feet with support.
  • Climb and descend a flight of stairs (12-14 steps) with a rail once a day.
  • Actively bend your knee at least 90 degrees.
  • Straighten your knee completely.
  • Independently sponge bath or shower (after staples are removed) and dress.
  • Gradually resume homemaking tasks.
  • Do 20 minutes of home exercises twice a day, with or without the therapist, from the program given to you.
Post-operative Exercise Plan
  1. Ankle Pumps
  2. Quad Sets
  3. Gluteal Sets
  4. Abduction and Adduction
  5. Heel Slides
  6. Short Arc Quad
  7. Hamstring Stretch with Strap Optional
  8. Straight Leg Raise
  9. Seated Knee Flexion
  10. Knee Extension Stretch

Advanced Exercises are listed in the Section 5 under Pre- and Post-op Exercises. Your physical therapist will add these, or other similar exercises at the appropriate time of your rehabilitation.

Weeks 2-4

Weeks 2-4 will see you gaining more independence. Even if you are receiving outpatient therapy, you will need to be very faithful to your home exercise program to be able to achieve the best outcome. Your goals are to:
  • Achieve one to two week goals.
  • Move from full support to a cane or single crutch as instructed by your therapist.
  • Walk at least one-quarter mile.
  • Climb and descend a flight of stairs (12-14 steps) more than once daily.
  • Bend your knee more than 90 degrees.
  • Straighten your knee completely.
  • Independently shower and dress.
  • Resume homemaking tasks.
  • Do 20 minutes of home exercises twice a day with or without the therapist.
  • Begin driving if left knee had surgery. You will need permission from your doctor or therapist.
Weeks 4-6

Weeks 4-6 will see much more recovery to full independence. Your home exercise program will be even more important as you receive less supervised therapy. Your goals are to:
  • Achieve one to four week goals.
  • Walk with a cane or single crutch.
  • Walk one quarter to one half mile.
  • Begin progressing on stair from one foot at a time to regular stair climbing (foot over foot).
  • Actively bend knee 110 degrees.
  • Straighten your knee completely.
  • Drive a car (either right or left knee had surgery).
  • Continue with home exercise program twice a day.
Weeks 6-12


During weeks 6-12 you should be able to begin resuming all of your activities. Your goals for this time period are to:
  • Achieve one to six week goals.
  • Walk with no cane or crutch and without a limp.
  • Climb and descend stairs in normal fashion (foot over foot).
  • Walk one-half to one mile.
  • Bend knee to 120 degrees. Improve strength to 80%.
  • Resume activities including dancing, bowling, and golf.
Recommended Exercise Classes

Joints in Motion
A gentle program specifically designed for individuals before and after joint replacement surgery and those experiencing joint, muscular, cardiovascular, or neuromuscular limitations. The program emphasizes increased flexibility, muscular strength, and cardiovascular endurance to promote balance and improved functional capacity. Participants have the option to remain seated throughout the entire class. Your physician's permission is required.

Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program
Program participants are led by certified aquatic fitness professionals through a series of specially designed exercises that, with the aid of the water's buoyancy and resistance, can help improve joint flexibility and muscular strength. The warm water (86-93 degrees) and gentle movements can also help to relieve pain and stiffness. The Arthritis Foundation has developed the program and your physician's permission is required.

AFEP (Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program)
The AFEP Program was developed by the Arthritis Foundation, but the benefits are not limited to individuals with arthritis. The AFEP Program uses gentle activities to promote increased joint flexibility, range-of-motion, and to help maintain muscle strength. The advanced version helps increase overall stamina through a brief, light, low-impact aerobic component. Participants must be ambulatory and a physician's permission is required. All participants are encouraged to go at their own pace. We recommend that all participants consult with their physician before starting any fitness or exercise program. The programs run continuously. You may start at any time. Students are encouraged to mix and match programs in order to promote a balanced fitness regimen.

For more information, please call the Arthritis Foundation.

Our team earned The Joint commission's Gold Seal of Approval.
Unity Health The Charles J August Joint Replacement Center
1555 Long Pond Road   |   Rochester, NY 14626
(585) 368-4545