Pre-Habilitation: 5 Exercises to Do Before Knee Surgery

Most knee and other joint replacement patients know that physical therapy rehabilitation is necessary for recovery after surgery. But did you know that participating in an exercise therapy program in the weeks leading up to surgery has benefits too? If you’re considering knee replacement surgery, here are 5 pre-habilitation exercises to do before.

Knee surgery rehabilitation (1)

Benefits of Pre-Habilitation

Pre-habilitation is exercise therapy done 6 weeks or more before joint replacement surgery. For knee replacement surgery, these focus on endurance, strengthening, and stretching. Pre-habilitation not only prepares you for the recovery process, but it also has many other benefits, including:

  • Relieving stiffness and stabilizing pain levels before surgery
  • Reducing your odds of needing inpatient rehabilitation
  • Shorter hospital stays since you are back on your feet faster

Preparing for Knee Replacement Surgery with Exercise

Before beginning any exercise regimen, always speak with your doctor or surgeon for a thumbs up. Remember to listen to your body and do each exercise as best as possible. Exercising should not cause excessive pain or discomfort, so if you are experiencing it, stop immediately and consult your physician.

Below are some recommendations by The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons. You should aim to do a combination of these 3-4 days a week for 30-60 minutes:

  • Stretching Exercises- You should begin each exercise session with 5-10 minutes of stretching to warm up and end with a 5-10 minute cool down.
    • Hamstring stretch (3 sets each leg):
      • Sit in a hardback chair and prop your leg directly in front of you on a stool or chair.
      • Lean forward and reach for your toes while keeping your back straight and your knee straight.
      • Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly return to starting position.
    • Strengthening Exercises- These should be done after stretching, and you should rest for at least 5 seconds between repetitions.
      • Quad Sets (3 sets each leg):
        • Lay on your back on a soft surface or mat and place a small towel or pillow below your knee.
        • Slowly push the back of your knee down into the pillow while keeping your toes pointed at the ceiling.
        • Hold the muscle contraction for 5 seconds, then slowly release and return to starting position.
      • Calf Raises (3 sets):
        • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, balancing yourself on a counter or chair.
        • Push up onto your toes, raising both heels off the ground.
        • Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.
      • Endurance Exercises- These should be done after stretching 2-3 times per week. You may need to start with a few minutes and increase to 30 minutes or longer as you build up your endurance.


Walking on a treadmill- Pre-habilitation

        • Walking on a treadmill- Walk at a comfortable pace while maintaining the proper heel-to-toe gait pattern.
        • Stationary bike– Position the seat further away from the pedals making sure you spend time pedaling forward and backward.

Knee Replacement Studies May Be an Option.

Gearing up for knee replacement surgery

If you’re needing a knee replacement, clinical research studies may be an option. To learn more about our upcoming knee replacement studies here at Endeavor Clinical Trials, call us at (210) 949-0807, or visit our website.