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Knee Exercise Post Arthroscopy

Purpose of Post-Arthroscopic Exercise and Rehabilitation

Following any type of joint surgery, it's important to exercise that joint as soon as possible to facilitate the healing process, regain strength and range of motion, and stability. Following a knee arthroscopic procedure, you may undergo some physical rehabilitation, or be directed to perform certain types of exercise on a pre-determined schedule at home.

Benefits of Rehabilitation Exercise

  • Increase range of motion
  • Strengthening
  • Increase endurance
  • Increase function and mobility

Range of Motion

There are two types of range of motion exercise:

  • Active - Performed by you
  • Passive - Performed by a physical therapist

Perform active exercises as instructed by your doctor or therapist, depending on your condition and strength.

Early Exercises

Early exercises gently work the knee joint and should be done in small movements. Do not push yourself and resist any twisting of the knee when performing any post-surgical knee exercise. For example, help loosen and stretch the hamstring muscles on the back of the thigh. Lie down on a bed, floor or exercise table with your knees bent at a very small angle (maybe 10 percent). Press the heel of the affected knee down into the floor until you feel the contraction at the back of your thigh. Hold it for five to 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat as directed by your doctor or therapist.

You can also strengthen your quadriceps or thigh muscles without bearing weight on your healing knee. Lie down on a bed, exercise table or the floor with a rolled towel or round cushion or pillow beneath the ankle of the affected leg. Press downward against the towel/cushion/pillow.

Strengthening Exercises

As your knee gets stronger, engage in leg lifting exercise. For example, lie on the floor, your affected knee straight but not locked in place. Your other leg should be bent. Lift the affected leg slowly about five inches, or less if you feel pain. Hold the contraction for a few seconds and then slowly lower the leg back to your starting position. As you grow stronger, add very light ankle weights over a four-week period, not exceeding five pounds of weight.

As directed by your therapist, perform partial squats holding onto a table, counter or chair. Stand with your feet less than shoulder distance apart to start, gradually widening your stance as your knee grows stronger. Holding onto a sturdy object, bend your knees and lower your torso toward the floor, keeping your back straight. Only go down a few inches to start and never dip so far that your thighs are at more than a 90-degree angle to the floor.


As your knee grows stronger, you'll be able to do more, such as balancing on one foot, performing forward and lateral step-ups and performing seated knee extensions. You may be encouraged to start walking within two weeks of your arthroscopic surgery, but avoid any running or jogging for at least eight weeks, no matter how good or strong you feel.