TKR Leg Straightening Exercises That Make a Difference

Hi everyone. I’ve been receiving numerous emails about tkr leg straightening exercises. It seems that an update to a previously popular article is in order. I am leaving the original comments intact so you can gain further insight.

Leg straightening was of particular interest to me during my initial tkr recuperation stages. I had to spend extra time working on this area to make my leg (knee) lie flat on any surface. You are probably the same way.

Hope the following information is useful to you..

Search online and you will notice that there have been a number of blog posts written about ways to straighten your leg after undergoing a total knee replacement. I have used them and they work well. Even though the basic exercise maneuver and format is there, it is always interesting to see these exercises from a different perspective. All variations can be individualized to suit individual needs.

I love sharing insight from my readers. In this instance, it is from Monique, one of my favorite contributors who just underwent a tkr herself. Her helpful suggestions put a different spin on some traditional leg straightening exercises to do during the tkr recuperation process. I thought her variations would be helpful to share with everyone. I have tested each maneuver and can attest to its legitimacy. They are as follows, in her words:

1) Lie on the bed and extend the TKR leg and place the heel on a rolled up towel so that the leg is slanted, not touching the bed. Then take a phone book, open it in half and place it across the knee. Stay in position for about 4 minutes. (I had to work up to this because it hurt when I first began doing this.)

2) Another exercise for straightening the leg…Lie face down on bed and let your leg hang over the edge of the bed about at the knee. Add a weight on the ankle of the TKR knee. I put the strap of my purse on my ankle and let the bag hang down. Stay in position for about 4 minutes or as long as your can stand it.

I like the idea of the phone book as a weight in exercise #1. And, the idea of using a purse strap in exercise #2 is very ingenious, in my opinion. 🙂 Since I have tried both and received positive results…I am sharing with you!

Thanks, Monique. I’m sure others will enjoy these exercises as well. Well, maybe not enjoy them (due to pain, you know..), but will get great use out of them. 🙂

Hope this helps others going through the same thing.

Find this total knee replacement blog post about tkr leg straightening exercises interesting? Kindly share…Thanks!

AUTHOR NOTE: Booktoots’ Healing helps total knee replacement patients find support throughout recuperation and beyond. Its mission is for patients to understand they are not alone in their ordeal with either a tkr or other health concerns.

The site is owned and operated by Marie Buckner, a published author and tkr patient who has been living with various health conditions for over 40+ years. She enjoys sharing her experiences to help others going through the same thing.

Marie is also a proud WEGO Health Patient Leader.

17 thoughts on “TKR Leg Straightening Exercises That Make a Difference”

  1. I had a TKR on my right knee in October 2008. I have rehabbed diligently at PT 3 times a week since then. I still cannot fully extend my knee. I use the technique of placing my heel on a rolled up towel and have evolved to placing 55 lbs, of weights on my knee for 10 minutes with no improvement. I also use the “hang over the edge of the bed” exercise, again with 55 lbs, of weights for 10 minutes. I have been doing this for 2 month with no improvement. I also recently had manipulation to improve my ROM with no improvement. Any suggestions, as both my doc and pt guy are running out of recommendations?

  2. my recommendation david would be to get another opinion, and another and another until someone figures it out. there is definitely something wrong. good luck.

  3. One of the ways that was effective for me, was to sit in a chair, place a footrest far enough away so that just the foot was on the footrest. Place something soft on your knee they pile the weights on and sit with the weights on the knee for as long as you can. I often watched a tv show that way. Give yourself time, it will improve. Laying on your stomach on the bed with the weights on your ankle will help, just continue to do that.
    ROM is something else. I am at 19 month out and still have range of motion problems. Rock in a rocking chair, etc all help. but the best is to get on a stationary bike. Also climbing stairs helps. It loosens the knee and improves the stiffness and ROM.
    Good luck and keep up the exercise.

  4. Hi, I had TKR in August 2011 and went to an outside PT. My ankle was placed on a bolster and the PT placed his hands on my knee and pushed down to the count of 10 five times. It was very painful, but really straightened my knee. I feel great after 4 months.

  5. I am 7weeks post-op TKR. Have been at PT every day since. I can only straighten at 4 degrees and bend on my own at 100. I have been doing everything I can do to fix this problem. The Doc also manipulated the knee at 4 weeks and only improved maybe 10 degrees on bend and nothing on straight. He could not get it straight under manipulation. Any ideas would be welcome.

  6. Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for visiting my site and leaving your comment. I didn’t have a manipulation, but did need to work on straightening my knee. I found placing a light weight onto my knee when my leg was outstretched very helpful. Perhaps other readers will share what worked for them.
    Good luck and keep in touch..

  7. My therapist places a roll of hard foam under my ankle and then presses down on my shin and above my knee; she applies more and more presssure then holds it when I can’t take it no longer for a slow count of 5. It hurts a lot but it works. She does a similar thing when I am on my belly with my leg bent up; she manipulate stye knee pushing so hard. Last Friday there was an audible click which she thought was great. When we measured my ROM it was 123 the previous wednesday it was 119. I am at a 2 straight wise. Had my TKR 7 weeks ago and am having the other knee done this January.

    I had an epidural and a nerve block with sedation during my op but i woke up to hear drilling and sawing and am really freaked out about having the second one but have decided I just have to be very firm about them not hitting nerves during the epidural and beg them to get the sedation right

    Any one else wake up? I have spoken to several people this happened too now.

  8. Hi David,
    Thanks for dropping by and leaving your quite interesting tkr comment. I did the same exercises during pt. Great stuff.
    As far as the waking up during the tkr, yikes! That is the perfect example of why I chose a general. No way, shape or form I wanted to see, feel, or hear anything that went on during my surgery. Call me a wimp, I don’t care. I have heard other people mentioning waking up with a local anesthetic.

    In fact, waking up and experiencing those things was explained to me by the anesthesiologist during my pre-op period. It was mentioned as a common occurrence. As soon as I heard that and started squirming, grimacing, and being horrified..I heard…”You seem to be a good candidate for a general anesthetic.” Got that right!
    Hopefully, others will share stories here.
    Keep in touch and good luck!

  9. My surgeon does not like to use general because of increased risks; however I have had a general on 3 other operations with no problem. I am going to speak to him about it and the anesthesiologist because although I felt no pain on waking during the operation it was not pleasant and the fact that I had PTSD before this surgery has ramped it up a notch. At the dentist the other day as soon as he switched his drill on I literally jumped out the seat. It took me right back to the operating theater.

    Anyway good luck to everyone who is going or gone through TKR and keep doing your PT.

  10. Hi David,
    My surgeon also explained the increased risks, preferring the local option. After seeing my reaction, the general comment was made. 🙂

  11. Catalina Perrin

    This post is really a nice one that helps new internet viewers wishing
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  12. 4 months since TKR. PT 3 x week. ROM 133. But can’t get below 4 to straighten. PT guy presses on quads to counts above 50. I try to suck it up, but I get tense for next round with hardly a break. Anyway, getting disgusted, disappointed and depressed. Thinking of going to Chiropractor. Also doing exercises at home and have floor bike. I feel like I’m pulling out all the stops. Wondering if my knee going to be stuck forever. Makes me want to stop everything.

  13. Hi Juju,
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your tkr comment. You are doing much better than I was at four months post-tkr. PT is very painful and difficult. Keep up the work and it will pay off. Promise…Good luck!

  14. Hello. Im new to this group but looking for encouragement. I am 7 weeks post op from a tkr and worried about my motion. I didn’t start PT until 2 weeks post op due to a snafu at the PT office. I have been doing PT since with little results. I’ve had one post op manipulation with help with bending, not straightening. And straightening is my issue. Now my doctor wants to a 2nd manipulation this week. I’m wondering if it’s worth it. I’m wondering if medical message could help.

  15. Hi Lynne,
    Thanks for visiting my site and leaving your tkr comment. As I state throughout my site, I am not a medical professional who dispenses advice. I am simply a tkr patient who shares my experiences. I have never had a manipulation…nor would I.
    I do know from personal experience there are times throughout pt where it seems no forward movement is being made. Just stay keep at it. If anything, I would talk this issue over with your pt. He/she is truly there to help you. Doctors encouraging manipulation view it as an additional income stream. imho.
    I have written other posts about straightening the tkr knee on this site. Take a look around! Simply put “knee straightening exercises” in the Search Box to find articles.
    Keep in touch and good luck!

  16. Hi, I had TKR 12 july ‘21 so it’s over 6 months. Leg isn’t completely straight so placing strain on it when walking. Was doing quite well, still a lot of stiffness in knee and can’t go down stairs except one foot at a time. However in the last month I have started to get pain in my shin bone, arch of my foot, soles of my feet and general feeling of numbness around knee, especially where drain was on the side. Now I can’t sleep as my feet either feel very hot or freezing cold inside( while feeling warm on the outside). It is very painful. Any suggestions as to what is going on?

  17. Hello Elaine…
    Kindly pardon my delay in responding. As I have stated throughout this site, I am not a medical care provider who dispenses advice. I am a patient who shares my experiences. .It does sound like you are experiencing some of the things I did at your state of tkr recuperation. You may find my book ‘Dealing With Insomnia’ helpful.
    Stay in touch and remember to check back often to realize you are not alone.

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