Why You Should Exercise Before Joint Replacement Surgery

Grant Cooper Health Guide
  • If I'm going for a knee replacement for osteoarthritis, should I do physical therapy before the operation?


    If you are going for a total knee replacement for knee osteoarthritis, then presumably the pain in your knee negatively impacts your daily quality of life and is keeping you from doing the things you like to do. Also presumably, you have not adequately responded to aggressive conservative care, including a combination of aggressive physical therapy, improved nutrition, supplements, medications, and injections. So, faced with a surgery date, can you now sit back and wait for the operation that will cure your symptoms? Is there a need to exercise before the surgery?

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    The stronger that you are going in to the surgery, the stronger you will be coming out of it, and the better your post-operative course will be.


    Under the supervision of your doctor, you should seek to improve your strength, flexibility, and overall endurance prior to the surgery. As always, don't exercise through joint pain, but work with your therapist and/or trainer to work around it. If walking or running is painful, perhaps using the elliptical machine at the gym will be less painful (or not painful at all). Water aerobics is a wonderful alternative if you have access to a pool. Strengthening your quadriceps and stretching your hip flexors, knee extensors (quadriceps/front thigh muscles) and knee flexors (back thigh muscles) will also be very important for you. In another blog, we will cover specific exercises in depth that may be worth trying.


    Check with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to exercise and then allow him or her to guide you to the right exercise regimen prior to surgery. You will still have to do some hard work after the surgery, but your body will thank you for getting it as prepared as possible.

Published On: August 22, 2008