10 knee exercises after ACL surgery

Fase één voorste kruisband oefeningen deel 1



After anterior cruciate ligament surgery, rehabilitation begins. Rehabilitation is characterized by various exercises to improve knee flexion and extension and build muscle strength. An overview of 10 knee exercises after anterior cruciate ligament surgery can be found here. Are you already a few weeks on the road look at part 2 click here

Do the knee exercises in consultation with your physical therapist as each rehabilitation is an individual process.

The various components:

  1. circulation
  2. Mobility
  3. Strenght
  4. Prevention secondary complaints
  5. Nutricion


You will notice that the lower leg is swollen and probably discolored from a hematoma. It is essential to stimulate blood circulation. Through the blood, nutrients and building materials are supplied and waste products are removed. After surgery you sit mostly still on the bed or couch, this does not promote blood circulation in the leg. It helps to do regular exercises. The following exercises can help:

Foot pump: move foot up and down as if pressing and releasing gas pedal. Target circulation lower leg and ankle mobility.

Do the exercises one set of 20-30 repetitions every 60 to 180 minutes.

Tighten upper leg muscles. Concentrate mainly on the inner part of the muscle (vastus medialis). Goal: learn upper leg muscle tightening, knee extension and fluid circulation.

Do the exercises one set of 20-30 repetitions every 60 to 180 minutes.


Because of anterior cruciate ligament surgery, the knee becomes stiff and stretching and bending are limited. To regain this mobility, regular exercise is essential. The focus should be on extending the knee. Flexion is also important, of course, but it generally recovers more easily than extension.

Heel slides with the help of the hands. With this exercise, bending as well as stretching is practiced.

Do the exercises one set of 20-30 repetitions every 60 to 180 minutes.

Using the other leg to bend and stretch the operated leg. With this exercise, bending as well as stretching is practiced.

Do the exercises one set of 20-30 repetitions every 60 to 180 minutes.


In the first few weeks, the strength and size of the thigh muscles decrease. You will also notice that it is more difficult to tighten the thigh muscles. Building strength in the first few weeks is difficult because of swelling, pain and immobility. Therefore, the focus is on maintaining muscle strength. 

Straight leg raises zorg voor voldoende voorspanning door de knie goed te strekken, bovenbeen aan te spannen en de enkel te flexen. Lift het gestrekte been op en wissel dit na 5 seconden af met het andere been.

Do the exercises 5 times a day 1-3 minutes. 5 seconds the operated leg and 5 seconds the other leg. Resistance can be gradually built up with weight bags.

Preventing secondary complaints

Most of the attention and time in knee rehabilitation obviously goes to the knee, but don't forget the rest of the body. Sitting still for long days is not good for the body. Ankle, back and/or hip pain due to inactivity and asymmetrical loading is a lurking complication. Furthermore, inactivity leads to a decline in your overall fitness. Exercises aimed at endurance and upper body strength can help with this. Moreover, this also encourages better circulation.

Stretched leg alternate lifting. Note; lift from the glutes and do not bend the knee. This activates the hamstrings and will hurt. If this exercise is still painful, wait a few days.

Try to do 4 sets of 15 repetitions 5 times a day.

With assistance from the non-operated leg bending and stretching the knee. The prone position is a pleasant change from prolonged sitting and/or lying on the back.

Try to do 4 sets of 15 repetitions 5 times a day.

Don't do: leg géén kussens of andere voorwerpen onder de knie. Hierdoor kan een strekbeperking ontstaan.

Do:sag to promote stretching possibly in conjunction with circulation exercises. Always provide a firm surface and do not make the towel too high. A few centimeters is often enough.

Try letting the knee sag for several minutes 5 times a day.

Please note that the above exercises are optional and the list of exercises is not exhaustive. Always consult with your own physio which exercises apply to you.


Eat healthy and varied foods. Be careful with fats and carbohydrates. Because of the inactivity after surgery, your body needs less of these. Eat enough protein to promote recovery and fight hunger pangs. For more information about proteins click here


If you still have questions after reading this blog "10 knee exercises after anterior cruciate ligament surgery," always discuss it with your physical therapist.


blog anterior cruciate ligament exercises part 2

Blogs anterior cruciate ligament

All about the anterior cruciate ligament

Treatment of the anterior cruciate ligament

Experiences of other rehabbers