Early Post-Operative Knee Exercises (Part 2 of 2)

We emphasize the importance of early and effective rehabilitation for post-operative knee surgeries. Our patients begin physical therapy Day One after surgery and see our StoneFit rehab team every day for (at least) two weeks following. This strategy optimizes patient outcomes by building strength, re-establishing range of motion, and improving cardiovascular fitness. 

Early Post Operative Knee Exercises Part 2


In this and our previous post, we feature some of our essential post-operative exercises after knee surgery. While we individualize all of our rehabilitation programs based on each patient’s surgery specifics, functional status, and long-term goals; these exercises provide insight into our philosophy and our core goals for every patient’s recovery. 

Knee Active Assisted Range of Motion 

This exercise allows you to work on the range of motion of the knee. Having a good understanding of your surgical protocol is crucial for this exercise, and will ensure that you are not moving your knee into positions for which it may not be ready. Consult with your physical therapist if you have questions. 

Performance Instructions: 

  • Begin seated at the edge of a table or bed
  • Raise your surgical leg by using your non-surgical leg to assist it through the range of motion by applying pressure behind your surgical foot
  • Perform in a slow and controlled fashion
 Knee Active Assisted Range of Motion

Knee Active Assisted Range of Motion with Ball

This exercise is targeting the same range of motion as the exercise above but uses an exercise ball. This can be a good starting point if your range of motion is limited. You will use your non-involved side to provide most of the pull, while your surgical leg will move with the ball into knee flexion. 

Performance Instructions: 

  • Lay on your back with your heels on the ball 
  • Use both legs to bend your knees, pulling the ball towards you 
  • Return to starting position and repeat 10 times

Knee Active Assisted Range of Motion with Ball

Bridge on Ball 

This exercise targets strengthening the hip extensors. This bridge modification is provided so patients with limited knee range of motion into flexion can continue to keep their hip extensors strong. 

Performance Instructions: 

  • Start with your heel or lower legs on the stability ball
  • Squeeze your glute muscles and lift your hips off the table
  • Hold for 3 seconds before lowering your hips in a controlled motion. Repeat 10 times
Bridge on Ball

Core Strengthening

Our team focuses on using every injury as an opportunity to get fitter, faster, and stronger than before. For our post-operative patients, this means early initiation of core and cardiovascular training into your physical therapy sessions. Here is one of our favorite knee surgery-safe variations, called the DeadBug. 

Performance Instructions: 

  • Apply pressure into the ball as demonstrated below
  • While maintaining pressure into the ball, press your lower core into the mat beneath you. Lift the opposite arm and leg away from the ball in a controlled manner
  • Return to starting position, and repeat with the other arm/leg combination

Core Strengthening

Maintaining Cardiovascular Fitness

For cardiovascular fitness, and to keep our patients in their best shape throughout the rehabilitation process, we like to use modified rowing or well-leg biking. For the rowing machine, we utilize a slider to support the surgical leg throughout the movement. For the biking, we utilize an assault bike and prop the surgical leg on the support bar. This allows our patients to work on their cardiovascular fitness, yet avoids putting pressure on the surgery site.


Post-operative patients should never feel like they are losing fitness during their recovery. If your fitness and recovery goals are not aligned with your current providers, our StoneFit rehabilitation team is here to help you optimize your surgical outcomes and meet your fitness goals along the way. You may also follow us on Instagram @stoneclinic for exercise interventions, patient progress, and more. 

-Your StoneFit Rehabilitation Team 

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Dr. Stone's New Book, Play Forever, is Available Now

Play Forever book by Kevin R. Stone, MD
Dr. Stone's Book, Play Forever, is Available Now
What is Play Forever? Dr. Stone wrote Play Forever to help injured athletes and those with arthritis discover how to stay active for a lifetime.