Can You Return to Normal Activities After Knee Replacement?

Have you recently had a knee replacement or maybe preparing for an upcoming knee replacement surgery? 

If so, I’m sure that you are starting to wonder about returning to activities.  Will you be able to do all of the activities and exercises that you once loved after surgery?

I understand, after my knee replacement I was so scared – what if I couldn’t get back to my active lifestyle?  I have been a crazy fitness nut for years – what if that was not possible again?

I mean that is the whole reason for doing the knee replacement in the first place!  Isn’t it?

Well don’t worry if you are careful and follow all of your doctor and therapist recommendations after surgery – then returning to your favorite exercises or activities after knee replacement will be a great possibility.

It may look a little different, but still possible.

Read on to find out what I learned and experienced after my total knee replacement recovery.

13 Fun Exercises to Avoid After Recovering from Knee Replacement

Are there activites or exercises that are “off limits” after a knee replacement?

At 6-12 months post op you should be feeling pretty good and most doctors will encourage their patients to try getting back to normal activities.


After surgery you may begin having some increased pain in other areas of your body due to decreased activity.

Yoga and Pilates can really be beneficial in getting you moving and stretching.  

I really wanted to get back to yoga, pilates and plyo as soon as I could.  At first it is difficult due to limitations with kneeling and balancing.

Try starting slowly with chair yoga to avoid bending the knee too much or kneeling. I found this helpful for stretching and strengthening my core, upper body, and arthritic back.

As I was able to move the knee more and kneel down the rest of the poses were then possible and actually made me feel better.

Returning to yoga and Pilates are definitely possible and encouraged!


Workouts like Zumba, Sweating to the Oldies (who doesn’t remember that one!), plyometrics, HITT or other aerobic exercises that require jumping, squatting, jogging or stepping are certainly possible after knee replacement surgery.

Start out slow with some low-impact aerobics first.  

When you are ready, try something more intense, like step aerobics, Zumba, or HITT!

You may not want to do this daily in order to prevent swelling or irritation to the knee.  

Consider alternating with a low-impact activity such as weightlifting, bicycling, or swimming.

I now do an aerobic workout 2 times a week for 20-30 minutes.  So yeah, it is possible!

Weight Training

 You should be doing some weight training during your inital recovery.  Yes, the weights are light but you can build off of that. 

This was one of the activities that I really wanted to get back to doing after my knee replacement. 

I lifted weight until the day before my surgery so I definitely wanted to return after.

Start out slowly with light weights and increased reps.  Once you feel comfortable with higher reps, increase your weights with lower reps.  Then, slowly increase your reps again.  If you want to know more about this check out my article Can you Lift Weights After Knee Replacement.

Before you know it, you will be getting that muscle back!

I have not power lifted for a long time, but I did discuss this with my doctor before surgery. He told me that he had a patient who returned to powerlifting and was tolerating it with a few adjustments.

So, if power lifting is something you are thinking about trying, you may want to discuss it with your doctor at your follow-up visit.   

goblet squat - is it safe to do cycling and squats on the same day


Squats are also something that you probably started doing at physical therapy after your knee replacement.

You should be able to squat to 90 degrees or close to it 6 months after surgery.

It is not advised to go below 90 degrees with your new knee.  Personally, I have not been able to go lower than 90 degrees – my knee stops me.

Again, listen to your body but doing squats is something that your therapist and doctor will encourage you to continue doing.

Weighted squats are definately an option after knee replacement.

There is no magic weight limit that you should or should not lift with your squats.  You will know when you reach your max.

Step Ups

Did you have to limit step ups or maybe stop doing them all together before your knee replacement due to pain?  I know they were hard for me too!

Well, you may want to try them again!  They are so much better now.

Try doing them with light weights and a low step at first.  As you feel comfortable there is no reason that you can’t increase your weights or the height of the step.

Just be careful and advance slowly in order to avoid falls or injury.

cycling after leg day Step up with weights


If you are a golfer or have always wanted to try golfing, now is the time!

Before my knee replacement, this activity was extremely painful by the 9th hole!

I would start limping and my game was off – well that was the excuse that I gave anyway.

After knee replacement, you should find that golfing can be fun and pain free again!


Stairs before surgery can be miserable!

After you recover from your knee replacement stairs should be much easier and should not be as painful.

I have never been one to enjoy running stairs but if it’s your thing go for it!

If you don’t run stairs, like me, but like the aerobic effect of stair climbing – try climbing faster or climb more flights of stairs.

It may be best to use a stairwell with a handrail present just in case you get tired.  The nice thing is you’re on stairs – have a seat and catch your breath if you become tired.


Basketball does entail jumping, running and twisting if you play competitively so you may need to be a little more cautious with this one. 

Maybe take a few extra breaks to give your knee a chance to rest. But seriously we are getting older so a few more breaks can be good all the way around!

For me I just shoot around at home but I am not a big basketball player. 

If it is something that you love, give it a try and see how it goes.  Just adjust accordingly.


Yep, you can do this also. 

However, you may want to wait until you are strong enough to balance yourself on the board. 

It obviously is not a high impact activity but it does require you to stabilize your legs for a period of time on the board.  Falls are also definitely possible. 

I hopped on a board 9-months post op.  It was a little challenging at first – but once you get comfortable it’s a lot of fun!

Just be safe and wait until you are strong enough to try it!

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Oh my gosh, yes!  You can hike again. 

What is better than getting out in the fresh air and exploring new trails.

I’m more of a day hiker and it has been great to get back to hiking without all of the pain.  

Just be cautious, you may want to avoid rainy days where the trails might be wet and slippery. 

You may also want to limit the weight that you carry with you in your backpack. 

Also consider using a walking stick just to help balance you on the trickier terrain. 


I have always enjoyed running – I ran 5 days a week before knee pain took me out. 

I knew that I would never be able to go back to my daily runs but I was hopeful that I wouldn’t have to avoid it all together after surgery. 

Well, I am here to say that you can run again.  Not the longer distances or daily but occasional short runs are possible. 

Every year I do 2 runs – one is a 3 mile and one is a 4 mile.  It makes me feel good to do it even though it does cause a little swelling. 

Most of my running these days are usually while I am playing sports in the yard with the grandkids.

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Soccer Or Football

Why not?  

Yes they both require running, twisting, foot planting and pivoting but just slow down and have some fun. 

You probably won’t be as competitive as you were 10 years ago but who is?

I again do this in the yard or the park with the grandkids – we have a lot of fun and I don’t suffer after.  


Tennis does require jogging, jumping and twisting of the knee but it is still possible. 

Again, just slow down a bit or try to play doubles so you don’t have to cover the whole court.

It is great cardio and just a lot of fun!

So, grab your racket and give it a try. 

Will You Have Permanent Restrictions After Your Total Knee Replacement?

The answer to this question is no, you should not have any permanent restrictions following a total knee replacement recovery.

At 6-12 months post op – depending on you fitness levels and goals – you should be feeling pretty good and should be able to get back to all of the activities that you love!

Most doctors will advise you to decrease the amount of pounding on the knee with activities such as twisting, long distance running or jumping – to avoid premature wearing of the knee.

So, you may have some limitations that you may need to work around but you should still be able to be as active as you chose.

Just remember that we are all on our own journey with different goals, fitness levels and pre-existing health issues or post-op complications.

My doctor encouraged me to be as active as I could.  He encouraged me to try different exercises and activities but stop when my knee tells me to – either due to swelling and/or pain.

At 6 months I was able to participate in a 4-mile run with my nieces.  I don’t run as often as I used too but I am still able to run short distances.  So, playing soccer, baseball and basketball with my grandsons is still something that I can enjoy doing.

How Soon Can You Kneel after a Knee Replacement?

Are you wondering when you will be able to return to kneeling or worried that you may not be able to kneel again after your knee replacement? 

I understand, a lot of exercises such as yoga, Pilates and weightlifting all require some kneeling.  Not to mention fun activities such as gardening and household projects.    

For most people, returning to kneeling can begin as soon as the incision line heals.  However, other people may take much longer. 

Why?  Well, there are several reasons that kneeling may be harder for some people vs others. 

One of the biggest issues is fear of trying to kneel down on the knee.  Other reasons include decreased range of motion before and after surgery and pain.  

All of these issues may require a little more time and work. 

Don’t worry…kneeling after a knee replacement is possible for most people after recovery. 

kneeling on surgical knee - exercises to avoid after knee replacement


Overall, knee replacement surgery is a significant undertaking, but much joy and progress await those who follow the proper routine after surgery.

It can be tough to stay motivated during the rehabilitation process, so be sure to find a support system of family and friends to help you along your journey.

Try some of these exercises as you build up strength and confidence in your knee – you don’t have to do everything all at once!

Good luck on your healing journey – you’ve got this!

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