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Joint Exercises

Joint Exercises

Starting joint mobility exercises before your orthopedic surgery is a smart thing to do. Continuing the exercises after your orthopedic surgery will also speed up your recovery! The joint exercises only take about 15-20 minutes to do each day. Taking this initiative will prepare you to be as fit as possible going into and coming out of your orthopedic surgery.

The Importance of Starting an Exercise Program

Ideally, you should think about starting an exercise program 4-6 weeks prior to surgery and immediately after surgery (or as your doctor orders). You’ll obtain optimum benefit if you do the joint mobility exercises twice a day, but-- only exercise to your comfort level.

The exercises can be easily performed on the bed if the floor is not comfortable and will strengthen your entire body, including your arms, which you’ll be relying on more after surgery to get in and out of the bed, etc.

Does it hurt to walk? Let's Talk! Call 404.501.TALK (8255) or email letstalk@dekalbmedical.org.

AnklePumpsBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

When to Do: before and after surgery twice a day

How to Do: You can do this exercise while lying flat on your back (on your bed) or in a seated position. Flex your foot up and down at your ankle.

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Supplies Needed: none

Benefit: Increases blood circulation in the leg to prevent blood clotting.

Be sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

Short Arc

short arcHow to Do: Sit with your back against a chair and then raise and straighten you knee so that your leg is parallel to the floor. Hold your leg in the straight position for 5 seconds and then slowly lower it back to the ground. Repeat.

When to Do: before and after surgery

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Supplies: Chair

Long Arc

LongArcQuadHow to Do: Sit with your back against a chair and then raise and straighten you knee so that your leg is parallel to the floor. Hold your leg in the straight position for 5 seconds and then slowly lower it back to the ground. Repeat.

When to Do: before and after surgery

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Supplies: Chair


ArmchairPushupsBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

How to Do: Sit in an armchair and place your hands on the armrests. Straighten your arms and raise your bottom up off the chair seat if possible. Your feet should remain flat on the floor.

When to Do: before and after surgery

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Benefit: Strengthens your arms so you can walk more steadily with crutches or a walker while you are recovering.

Supplies: an armchair

gluteal seatsBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

How to Do: Lie flat on your back in the bed and then contract (squeeze) the muscles in your buttocks. Hold for a count of 5 to 10 seconds. Your pelvis should rise a little during this exercise.

When to Do: before and after surgery

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Benefit: This exercise strengthens the muscles around your hip to provide support of your hip when standing and walking.

Supplies: None

HipAdductionBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

How to Do: Lie flat on your back in your bed and keep your knee straight and your toes pointed up to the ceiling. Slide your leg out to the side. Then slowly return to the starting position. Remember to slide the leg, don’t raise it up off the surface.

When to Do: before and after surgery

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Benefit: This exercise strengthens the muscles on the inner and outer thigh to provide support of your hip and knee when standing and walking.

Supplies: None

heelslidesBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

How to Do: Lie flat on your back and slide your heel toward your buttocks while bending your knee. Then slowly lower your heel back to the position where you began and repeat the exercise.

When to Do: before and after surgery

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Benefit: Strengthens and increases the flexibility of the muscles around your hip and knee.

Isometric AdductionBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

How to Do: Lie on your back in the bed with your knee straight and your toes pointed to the ceiling. Place a rolled up towel between your thighs and squeeze the towel with your inner thigh muscles. Hold for a count of 5-10. Release and repeat.

When to Do: before and after surgery

Benefit: strengthens the muscles around the thigh to provide support for your knees.

Supplies Needed: a towel

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Long Arc QuadsBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

How to Do: Sit with your back against a chair and then raise and straighten your knee so that your leg is parallel to the floor. Hold your leg in the straight position for 5 seconds and then slowly lower it back to the ground. Repeat.

When to Do: before and after surgery

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Supplies: Chair

quadsetsBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

When to Do: before and after surgery

How to Do: Lie flat on your back and begin the exercise with your knee straight. Then contract the muscle on top of your thigh (the quadricep) and hold it for a count of 5 to 10 seconds. Note: It’s o-kay if your foot raises slightly off the flat surface while you are doing this exercise.

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Supplies: none

Benefit: Strengthens the main muscle around the knee for better support when you’re walking.

seatedheelslidesBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

How to Do: Sit towards the edge of the seat with your leg straight out in front of you and your heel resting on the ground. Bend your knee by sliding your front foot toward the chair. Bend your knee as much as you can comfortably without raising your hips off the seat of the chair. Then slide your foot back outward until your knee is completely straight again. Always keep your foot on the floor during this exercise.

When to Do: before and after surgery

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Be sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

squatsHow to Do: Stand with your walker or behind a stable chair so your balance is supported. Put your feet parallel and about 4-6 inches apart. Bend your knees and lower your body down toward the ground about 4 inches. Keep your back and torso up and straight. Note: If you feel pain, don’t lower down quite as far (i.e. only bend down 2-3 inches instead of 4.)

When to Do: before and after surgery

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Supplies: a walker or a chair

Benefits: Strengthens all the muscles in your leg to provide better support when standing and walking.

Standing Knee FlexionBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

How to Do: Stand with your walker or behind a stable chair so that your balance is supported during. Keeping your thighs together, bend your leg up behind you so that your foot raises up towards your buttocks. Note: keep the thigh as perpendicular to the floor as possible when you do this exercise (i.e. don’t let it move forward when you raise your foot behind you).

Repeat this exercise 20 times

Supplies: a chair (pre-operative) or a walker (post-operatively)

Benefit: Strengthens the muscles behind your knee for greater flexibility and better walking.

Knee Extension Stretch

How to Do: Sit in a chair and rest the foot of your surgical leg on a stool. There should be nothing underneath your knee while in this position. Rest in the position as long as you can (from 20 minutes up to 1 hour).

When to Do: before and after surgery

Benefit: Increases the motion and flexibility in your knee. It is especially important if you are currently unable to straighten your knee.

Hamstring Stretch

stretchesHow to Do: Sit on your bed with your surgical leg flat on the bed and your opposite foot resting on the floor. Keep your back straight while bending forward at your hips and reach toward your toes with your hands. Be sure to keep your knee flat on the bed and don’t allow it to raise up during the stretch. You will feel a pull in the muscles behind your knee.

When to Do: before and after surgery


Toe Heel RaisesBe sure to consult your physician prior to beginning your joint exercise program and only exercise to your comfort level. You’ll obtain optimum benefit from your joint exercises if you do them twice a day.

How to Do: Stand with a walker or behind a stable chair. Hold your hands on the back of the chair for balance. Have your feet even with each other and separated 4-6 inches. Raise up onto your toes - hold for 5 seconds. Then lower your foot back to a flat position on the floor. Then slightly rock backward and raise your toes up off the floor. Do not rock so far back that you lose your balance. Try to keep your knees straight for this exercise.

When to Do: before and after surgery

Supplies Needed: a chair or walker

Repeat this exercise 20 times

curb ascendCurb Climbing (Ascend)

How to Do: Walk as close to the curb as you are able with your walker. Place your walker up onto the curb with all four walker legs securely on the upper surface. Step up onto the upper surface with your STRONG leg first. Then bring your weaker or more painful leg to the upper surface by lifting yourself with your strong leg and with your arms on the walker.

curb descendCurb Climbing (Descend)

How to Do: Walk to the edge of the curb with the front legs of the walker as close to the curb as is safely possible. Put the walker down onto the lower surface making sure each of the four walker legs is securely on the flat lower surface. Then step down with your weaker or more painful leg to the lower surface. Make sure this foot is flat and secure on the lower surface. Then lower your stronger leg to the lower surface.


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Emory Decatur Hospital
Orthopedic Services

2701 North Decatur Road
Decatur, GA 30033

    404.501.TALK

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