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Why is Knee Mobility so Important After a Knee Surgery?

Updated: May 10, 2022

Written by: Dr. Lisa Bodratti, PT, DPT of The Green Room Physical Therapy

There are two ways in which your knee can move - extension (straightening) and flexion (bending). After a knee surgery your range of motion, or ability to move from flexion to extension, is usually limited. As a rule, we have to improve your mobility before we can start the process of strengthening to improve your stability, which makes regaining your knee motion goal number one.

So, why does it matter if your knee straightens and bends fully? Well, if we make a list of some important everyday activities, we find quite a few movements that require us to have quality knee mobility.

  • Walking: your knee must straighten fully through the “stance phase” and bend during the “swing phase.” If you do not have the range of motion of your knee, you will likely find yourself limping or walking differently than normal.

  • Squatting: Squatting is a daily activity that, whether you realize it or not, you do quite often! Getting in and out of a chair or the toilet, bending down to get things out of the cabinet, getting in and out of the car are all activities that require knee mobility.

  • Stairs: In order to properly step up onto the next step safely, we must have the ability to bend our knee to lift the foot to the next step, and then the ability to straighten to stand up. Going down stairs also requires significant knee flexion. Often, if knee mobility is limited we find ourselves going down the stairs sideways, which is not safe!

When you are at therapy, your therapist will help to stretch your knee, but here are some ways to work on your knee mobility at home:

Heel slides: With a towel or strap around your foot, pull towards your body to help bend your knee. Try to achieve a comfortable stretch. Try 2-3 sets of 5 repetitions.

Heel slides against wall: Laying with your hips and feet close to a wall, bring your feet up onto the wall. Let your surgical knee bend and slide down the wall. You can try to use your non-surgical leg to help bend your surgical leg. Try 2-3 sets of 5 repetitions.

Heel prop: Sitting in a chair, prop your surgical foot either on a chair in front of you or on top of a cushion/rolled towel so that you feel a stretch under your knee. Try sitting like this for 2-3 minutes. Over time, your tolerance to this stretch should increase.

Standing calf stretch: Facing a wall, place your surgical leg behind you. Lean into the wall to feel a stretch at the back of your leg. Try holding this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times.

Even if you have not had a recent knee surgery, mobility can be an issue. If you feel your knee range of motion is limited and is impacting the way you move, come visit us here at The Green Room! You may request a free consultation or full evaluation using this link

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