Pre-Op Exercises for Lower-Extremity Joint Replacement Patients

Seated Athlete

Before you play sports, you stretch your body and warm it up to prepare for the physical strain. When your muscles are prepared for the effort you’ll exert playing baseball or soccer, you’ll perform better as an athlete. You can apply this same concept to your joint replacement surgery. Stretching and exercising before your surgery will help your body prepare for the operation and recovery. With the proper exercises and preparation, you can make a quick recovery and return to your normal activities.

Here are a few of the exercises to do before your joint replacement surgery:

  • Heel Slides
    • Lie on your back with your knees and toes pointed toward the ceiling.
    • Gradually bend your leg while keeping your foot on the bed.
    • Bend your leg toward your body as far as comfortable and hold it there for 5 seconds.
    • Gradually straighten your leg until your knee is flat against the bed.
  • Quad Sets
    • Lie with your back supported and your knee straight. Place a folded towel under your knee.
    • With your knee straight and toes pointed toward the ceiling, tighten the muscles of your thigh (this will cause your leg to straighten further).
    • Hold this position for 5 seconds then relax.
  • Glute Sets
    • While lying on your back, squeeze your buttock muscles together as tight as you can tolerate.
    • Hold this position for 5 seconds then relax.
  • Long Arc Quads
    • Sit on a chair or the side of your bed.
    • With both knees bent, gradually straighten one leg at a time.
    • With your leg straight, tighten the muscles of your thigh.
    • Hold this position for 5 seconds, then relax.
    • Lower your leg back down and repeat exercise with your opposite leg.

You can perform the above exercises two to three times per day at 10 repetitions for each leg or as often as your doctor recommends. You can also prepare your body for joint replacement surgery by walking up and down stairs using handrails and an assistive walking device. Try tackling a few steps at at time and use handrails for both hands if possible. Start by stepping up with your good leg and then lift your bad leg up to meet your non-surgical leg. If you’re using a cane, bring up your cane to meet both legs on the same step. Use this method to climb all the way to the top. On the way, do the reverse. Step down with your cane first, then bring your bad leg to meet your cane, and then finally bring your good leg down to meet your cane and your bad leg on the same step. Continue until you reach the bottom of the stairs.

If you have any questions about how to perform these pre-op exercises or other questions about your surgery, please contact us.