Prehab Exercises Before Total Joint Replacement Surgery


If you have an upcoming total joint replacement surgery then it is important to get your body prepared in order to have a successful recovery. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Speak with your doctor or licensed physical therapist to determine the best exercises for you.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to start your prehabilitation exercises. You need to give your body and muscles time to build strength and recover from any soreness before surgery. Starting six to eight weeks before surgery is suggested.
  • Start slowly. If you are new to exercise, then it is important to start slow and build your stamina. Going too hard, too soon can increase your risk for injury.
  • Get moving – even a slow walk every day is better than staying stagnant.


Prehabilitation, or prehab for short, is an exercise therapy program started before surgery. Studies have shown that patients who complete prehab exercises before surgery recover faster and achieve mobility goals in a shorter period of time.

Do exercises on your bed or couch – do not attempt them on the floor. Each exercise should be performed 10-15 times, 2-3 times per day, unless otherwise noted.

Quad Sets: Tighten the muscles in the front of your thigh by pushing the back of the knee into the bed or couch. Flex feet to help straighten the knee. Hold five seconds and release. Repeat on the other side.

Gluteal Squeeze: Lie on your back and squeeze your buttock muscles. Hold five seconds and release.

Heel Slide: Bend your knee and slide your heel toward your buttocks. Start easy and gradually increase your motion. Repeat on the other side.

Hip Abduction: Slide the surgical leg out to the side and back to the middle, but not crossing the midline, keeping your toes pointed up. Repeat on the other side.

Heel Prop: Lie with pillow under your heel for 30 minutes. You should feel the stretch behind the knee. Your knee may feel stiff after this exercise. Repeat on the other side.

Ankle Pumps: Flex ankles up and down. Point toes as far down as possible, then flex up until you feel a stretch in your calf.

Short Arc Quad: Place a rolled towel under the knee and raise your leg until it is straight, making sure the back of the knee is in contact with the towel at all times. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly lower your leg. Repeat on the other side.

Straight Leg Raise: Sit and support your back and place your surgical leg flat on the bed while bending the other leg. Raise your straight leg, keeping the toes up, to about 12 inches, and hold for five seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Chair Push-Up: Push down on the arms of your chair while raising your body and straightening your arms and elbows. Then slowly lower yourself back in the chair.

We’ve put together a free guide to help you better understand joint replacement preparation, orthopedic surgery, and recovery. If joint replacement surgery is the best solution for you, The Center’s orthopedic surgeons and support staff are ready to help you prepare for surgery and plan for a successful recovery.

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