Exercise After Leg Surgery

Patient at physiotherapy

The leg is made up of a variety of bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments that are crucial in your ability to stand and move. Sports, accidents and falls can cause injury to your leg. Injuries can include sprains, strains, muscle tears, dislocations, fractures and damage to cartilage and ligaments. Injuries can occur in the foot, ankle, hips or knees. While some injuries heal on their own, others require surgical repair to restore normal function to your leg. Depending on your injury, your healing time can be weeks or months. Exercising after leg surgery can help improve strength, flexibility and range of motion in your injured leg.

Obtain permission from your surgeon. The timeframe in which your doctor allows you to participate in exercise is going to depend on the type of surgery you had. It takes time for your bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments to heal. You also need to be sure your incision has healed before beginning exercise following leg surgery.

Ask your doctor about physical therapy. Physical therapists can help determine exercises that are best suited to the type of injury you had and can also help determine the appropriate exercises to get you back to your regular activity level. Your doctor will write you a prescription for physical therapy when and if he feels it is necessary.

Perform simple exercises to avoid the risk of blood clots. Regardless of the type of surgery you had, pumping your ankles or making circles with your ankles can help increase the circulation in your legs. If you are unable to move your ankle, ask your doctor about alternative simple exercises.

Practice increasing your range of motion. Slowly work to flex and extend your injured body part. Make circles with your ankle, write the alphabet with your toes, perform leg raises for your knee or work on hip abduction -- moving your hip away from the center point of your body.

Work on strengthening. Ask your doctor about resistance band exercises to help strengthen your injured leg. Resistance bands can be used to strengthen your hip, knee, foot or ankle. They come in a variety of resistances and are lightweight.

Practice your balance. When you are weight bearing, perform single-leg balances. Try to stand on your affected leg for as long as possible. Count as your stand on your injured leg. Try to improve the amount of time spent balancing on this leg daily.

Start low-impact exercises as soon as your doctor sees fit. You can use an indoor bike, swim or use an elliptical machine. Start out slowly and work your way back up to your normal activity level.


Early exercise following surgery improves circulation and reduces your risk for developing post-operative complications. Exercising can also help speed up your recovery process. However, only complete exercises as directed by a medical professional.


Never complete any exercise to the point where you experience extreme pain. If pain persists, contact your surgeon immediately. If you experience bleeding or drainage at your incision site while exercising, contact your surgeon as soon as possible.