Your exercise programme should start from day one and has been carefully designed for safe and rapid progress.


  • Rest your knee between sessions of exercise. When resting keep your leg up on a stool or settee.
  • Walk only short distances for the first few days.
  • Continue using your crutches as shown by the physiotherapist until we tell you otherwise.
  • It is important that you can straighten your knee fully and you are walking without a limp before you stop using crutches.
  • Finally, it is important to continue with the exercise as shown by your physiotherapist.

The early phase of your rehabilitation is below and your physiotherapy sessions should start a few days following surgery. Initially your physiotherapist will assist you to move your knee.

Continue with exercises 1 – 5 as shown until your first physiotherapy appointment.

1. Static quadriceps (thigh muscle)

Position: Lying down or sitting

Action: Tighten the thigh muscle, pull your foot towards you and push your knee down into the bed or chair.  Hold for 5 seconds then relax

Repeat: 10 x every 1-2 hours

ACL exercises
2. Knee bending

Position: Lying down

Action: Slowly slide your heel towards your bottom. Stop at the point of pain and hold for 5 seconds then straighten again.

Repeat: 10 x every 1-2 hours

ACL exercises
3. Straight Leg Raise

You must keep your knee straight and locked out.

Position: Lying down

Action: Tighten the thigh muscle and keep your knee straight, slowly raise your leg off the bed. Do not lift the leg higher than 10-15cm (4-6 inches) from bed. Hold for 5 seconds.

ACL exercises
4. Terminal extension

Position: Lying down with your heel on a rolled towel

Action: Tighten the thigh muscle, pull your foot towards you and press your knee down. Hold for 5 seconds then relax.

Repeat: 10 times every 1-2 hours or rest in this position for 10 minutes every 1-2 hours.

Terminal extension
5. Prone Stretch

Position: Lying on your front with feet over the bed edge.

Action: Place a pillow or towel under your thigh for comfort. Allow the weight of your legs to stretch the back of the knee. Hold position for 10 minutes. Rest in position for 10 minutes.

Repeat: Every 1-2 hours

Calf Stretch
6. Calf Stretch

Position: Lying or sitting

Action: Use a towel or belt around your foot, to pull your foot gently towards you to stretch your calf. Perform 10 times, holding stretch for 20 – 30 seconds.

Repeat: Every 1 – 2 hours

Calf Stretch

Then they will teach you how to do exercise 7 – 13 safely three to six weeks after surgery.

7. Knee Flexion and Hip Extension

Knee Flexion

Position: Lie face down

Action: Tuck your good leg, bend your operated leg to heel, bend your knee to 90 degrees.

Knee extension

If you can bend knee freely to 90 degrees, extend your hip by lifting your thigh off the bed.

Return to starting to position.

Repeat: 10 times every 4 hours

Knee Flexion and Extension
8. Hip Abduction

Position: Lie on your side with your back against a wall

Action: Keeping the heel in contact with the wall, slowly raise your leg.

Return to starting to position.

Repeat: 10 times every 4 hours

Hip abduction
9. Weight transfer and Balance

Position: Standing by a chair for balance if needed

Action: move your weight from side to side over your feet

Repeat:10 times every 4 hours

Weight transfer exercises
Weight transfer exercises
10. Single leg balance

Position: Standing on one leg

Action: Practice standing on your operated leg. Try to increase the time to match your good leg.

Repeat:10 times every 4 hours

Calf Stretch
11. Calf stretch

Position: Stand by a chair or wall for support

Action: Step back with one leg and stretch the calf by pushing the front knee forward. Make sure your feet are pointing forwards and your heels stay in contact with the floor.  Hold for a few seconds.


Calf Stretch
12. Mini Squat

Position: Stand by a chair for balance if needed

Action: Bend your knees ad hips as if going to sit on a chair. Do not bend the knees more than 50 degrees (halfway down). Return to starting position.

Repeat:10 times every 4 hours

Mini squat
13. Heel raises

Position: Stand by a chair for balance if needed.

Action:  Slowly raise your heel up from floor, move up onto your toe.

Repeat:10 times every 4 hours

Heel raises
14. Cardiovascular exercise

Using a static bike and cycle with low resistance. Cycle for 10-15 minutes – before (as a warm up) and following your exercises.


Ongoing physiotherapy

You will attend physiotherapy for at least three months. Your rehabilitation usually takes at least six months depending on goals or sports.